Walking into Durham’s butchery-meets-pastry-shop known as Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop, you’ll see chocolate tartlets with hazelnut praline lovingly displayed alongside fennel caramels, smoked Spanish chorizo, shoulder brisket and liver pudding.
Although cake and pork may at first seem an unlikely pairing, proprietors Katie and Justin Meddis make it work, creating the perfect marriage of meats and sweets in their shop display and even in individual dishes such as their meat sandwiches on puff pastries or caramels crafted with lard.
Luckily for Triangle food lovers, the couple decided to move from their former home of San Francisco, where they both worked as chefs – she making pastries at Chez Panisse, he working with meat at another highly rated restaurant – to Durham a couple of years ago, with the dream of opening Rose’s. They envisioned a storefront where they could both sell amazing pastries, lunch sandwiches and entrees, and run a full service butchery, to process the abundant local sustainable meats being raised in our area.
There weren’t any other local butcher shops focusing on humanely and sustainably raised animal products, and the Meddises wanted to fill that need. Katie said, “As we got into researching meat and factory farming,… it’s turned into something we just had to do for the community – make these better meats available for people” all week, rather than only once a week at a farmer’s market or via a Community Supported Agriculture program.
They also intend for their shop to help educate the public about local meat, and about the importance of using all the parts of an animal, not just the brisket or tenderloin, from both a health and sustainability standpoint. They offer regular classes on butchery and sausage making as well.
So why incorporate sweets using quality local ingredients? Because, as Katie says, ” desserts make people happy.” Also, when they were working on the west coast, she and Justin worked opposite shifts and basically never saw each other. They didn’t want to give up on their passions for creating great food, but they needed to find a way to spend some time together. And thus, the idea for Rose’s was born.
They’ve been in business now for just over a year, so we caught up with Katie this week to see how the shop is getting on, and to find out more about the magic behind their delicious and popular offerings, and to get ourselves excited about ordering one of their holiday turkeys, hams or galettes.
Abundance NC: Do you get a lot of good feedback from customers or farmers who appreciate your mission-driven business?
We have a lot of regulars for which we are thankful. I think a lot of people come in because they believe in what we are doing. We have formed a lot of wonderful relationships with farmers who sometimes even go out of their way to help us out because they want to help us be successful. I think a lot of people come by because of the quality of the products we serve but also because we have built relationships with our customers and many are now considered friends.
Moving from San Francisco to Durham, have you found that, on average, people here are less familiar with the importance of sustainable farming practices, or the benefits of using all cuts of the animal? Do you find yourself doing a lot of education around these topics at the shop?
Whole animal butchery is something entirely different, and it requires a lot of explaining on our part. We are frequently asked if we carry beef tenderloin or, “do y’all carry brisket?” Explaining that we have the whole animal hanging in our walk-in is an everyday conversation. People are accustomed to seeing abundant meat cases in the supermarket and are not used to thinking that hard about what they are looking for. It’s getting easier for both us and our customers though, now that we are over a year in.
Everyone loves your delicious house-cured bacon. What makes your bacon so freaking delicious? What do you do to it? Or is it about the sourcing of pork and ingredients?
It’s the pork for sure. Pasture raised pork is more flavorful than commodity pork. But we also have several recipes that really help elevate the bacon, whether it is being soaked in a mixture of black beer and molasses or simply covered in salt, sugar, and other spices for a week. We smoke the bacons with cherry wood chips as well.
Mmmmm. I love the idea of pairing meats with sweets. And the beautiful rows of tarts and pastries immediately takes the edge off any grisly vibe some people might have in their heads when they think of butcher shops. But it’s also a natural pairing, because everyone knows a good cut of meat is made more delicious by a chutney, fruit dish, or something sweet. Now to the sweets. What do you love most about making pastries and confections?
Creating pastries is so satisfying. It’s about taking simple but high quality ingredients and turning them into something much greater. Not a pastry, but bread is the best example of this. Flour, water, yeast, salt and there are limitless variations of breads out there. It’s just the technique that differentiates them. I try to focus on using the best ingredients that I can find and help them shine. And besides dessert just make people happy.
What pastries are you most proud of that you’ve created since you’ve been open?
I love the White Miso and Gingersnap ice cream combination. Salty and sweet, and I could eat it everyday. I am also a big fan of the Mochi Cake. Between the chewy texture, subtle coconut and lemon flavor, and the fact that it is gluten free, makes it one of my favorites. It make the gluten intolerant people excited and that really makes me happy as well.
Where did you get the idea to serve sandwiches in puff pastries? Do people love this combination?
Justin saw the recipe for sausage rolls in a book one day and thought that was a perfect marriage of meats and sweets. We starting testing recipes at home, we both consumed way too much butter, and we decided that it would be our signature sandwich.
When you started the shop, part of the intention was to be able to spend more time together as a couple. You had opposite schedules in San Francisco, with Katie working as a pastry chef at Chez Panisse and Justin working at another renowned restaurant. Has it been nice to work together, or hard, or both?
It’s both. It’s nice to be together and be in this as partners, but it’s not easy either. We are closed on Mondays, and we say that we are married on Mondays. Otherwise we are business partners and chefs, and we only talk about work. It has been an adjustment, but I think we would both rather have it be this way, rather than never seeing each other.
What do you like best about living in Durham?
We felt a great deal of support opening a business here. People are always willing to help, and we are overwhelmed with kindness on an everyday basis. What more can you ask for?
Order your holiday meats, cakes and pastries from Rose’s, and impress your family and friends with your good taste and support of your local foodshed. They’ve got turkeys, hams, holiday roasts, cakes, tarts and galettes. More about Rose’s holiday ordering here.
Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop is open Tuesday – Saturday, from 11 a.m to 7 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are located at 121 N. Gregson St., Durham, NC.