This past Saturday, I had a grocery list of items that I needed to obtain for a family gathering the next day. Since it's National BBQ Month, my goal was to head outdoors and grill skirt steak and fish for tacos to feed about 12 people with a variety of tastes (including one partial-vegetarian that I reluctantly accept as family). I was really hoping my favorite butcher (Gillespie's Meat Shoppe) on Silverton Road would have some skirt steak handy, otherwise I was going to try LingFarm's stand at the Salem Saturday Market. I had a lazy day planned, so I had time to meander around town to find just what I was looking for.
My first stop was at Gillespie's Meat Shoppe, which shares the building with Norman's Farmer's Market. This is exceptionally handy, because it's a single stop where you can get fresh local meats, along with farm fresh produce that is usually local (although I noticed some garlic from China when I was there). I spent $4 at Norman's for a cabbage, some roma tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, and green leaf lettuce. I thought it was a good deal, but as many of you know I'm not very experienced with produce pricing, so maybe that was expensive.
The other half of the building is where I spent a majority of my time. Most of Gillespie's meats are from Hill Meat Co. in Pendleton, or Carlton Farms in Carlton. And Speaking of Bacon! I have no problem sticking my neck out and saying that Gillespie's has absolutely the best bacon in Salem. It's actually the best bacon that I've ever purchased at a grocer or butcher shop (it's true that I've eaten better bacon elsewhere, but none that I've cooked myself). If it's between the hours of 9am-6pm right this moment, you need to stop reading and go RIGHT NOW to Gillespie's to pick up a pound or two of their smoked bacon. I'll wait.
See? Was that worth it or what?? Makes my mouth water. Anyhow, back to the skirt steak. They didn't have what I was looking for, but when I asked the fellow behind the counter as he rang-up my package of bacon (which, like beer, is always on my grocery list), where I might find some good skirt steak, he directed me to Salvador's Bakery which is just down the street on the other side of Lancaster. Take a look at the Eat Salem review on Salvador's to see that this place is no secret to Eat Salem readers. I love when one local shop recommends another -- I put a lot of weight behind that recommendation.
While I was there, Salvador's was serving up tacos, tortas, and other dishes to hungry patrons. I almost couldn't resist, but I had several other stops to make and didn't want my beef sitting out of the fridge longer than it had to.
Before I got back on the road, I did a quick search to see what other meat shops I might find in the area -- specifically ones that would carry halibut or another white fish which would be good for fish tacos. I came up with El Torito Meat Market.
El Torito was immediately attractive to me because there was a guy out front grilling 4 or 5 whole-chickens on a big charcoal pit. Yep, this is my kind of place. It's a Mexican market with a small produce section near the front, and a pretty large butcher shop at the back. I was surprised at how large the butcher case was for the size of the market. Sadly, while they had some seafood, they didn't have the fish I was looking for. However, while I was there, I figured I might as well get some tortillas, as it just so happens that they have their own in-store tortilleria! And there happened to be a bag of warm white corn tortillas that were hot off the press, sitting on the counter, waiting for me. Quite honestly, I have no idea how much I paid for them, because once I had that bag of soft, warm tortillas in my hands, it didn't seem to matter.
Fitt's Seafoods (and I'm still kicking myself for not taking the time to go) but my lazy day was running a bit longer than expected, and I had a couple of other tasks to accomplish on the home front. I never did get down to Saturday Market, but I'm pretty satisfied with the results of my hunt.
On the way home, the sign on Cordon Road for Willamette Valley Fruit Company's new store just east of Salem caught my eye and I decided I could spare a few minutes to swing by and check it out. As it turned out, I needed a marionberry smoothie. I didn't know that until I saw it on the menu board and it called out to me. The little shop is very nice inside and has a freezer row of berries and pies for a reasonable price. You can get 8-lbs of blueberries for $9. My breakfast-smoothie-loving wife tells me that's an awesome deal.