New butcher on the block

MEAT AND GREET: Meredith and Casey McKissick are partnering with area farmers with hopes that their new butcher shop will help grow the local meat movement. Photo courtesy of Cindy Kunst.
MEAT AND GREET: Meredith and Casey McKissick are partnering with area farmers with hopes that their new butcher shop will help grow the local meat movement. Photo courtesy of Cindy Kunst.

Meredith and Casey McKissick are bringing fresh-from-the-farm meats to Black Mountain with their new shop, Foothills Farms and Butchery, located across the street from Dynamite Roasting Company. The owner of the space, Endre Pazstor, got behind the shop because of his fond memories of a local butchery in his native Dominican Republic, says Meredith. “People long for the nostalgia of a neighborhood butcher shop,” she observes, “even though there are few who actually remember them.”

The McKissicks began discussing the idea for the shop several years ago, hoping to scale up the local-meat movement, which is limited by federal and state regulations. “Some local producers here send meat to Pennsylvania just to have it smoked,” Meredith says. The butcher shop is able to operate under county inspection like a restaurant. It can cure, smoke and cook meat on site, offering customers a smorgasbord of local fare. 

The McKissicks envision elevating local meat to the next level by partnering with nearby farms, including Dry Ridge Farm, Brasstown Beef, Apple Brandy Beef, Summerfield Farm, East Fork Farm and more. “It’s not realistic for our farm to produce all the meat we want to sell,” Meredith explains, “and it gives those farms an outlet where their meat can be showcased in ways it cannot be at the tailgate markets.”

The McKissicks have been running their farm — Foothills Pasture-Raised Meats in Old Fort — since 2003. They raise beef cattle and heritage hogs, and currently provide pork for Asheville-area restaurants. “We feature pasture-raised meat because we believe it provides the most consistent, quality flavor profile, while favoring the animal’s natural tendencies,” says Casey. Pasture-raised animals have access to fresh grass throughout their lifetime, and may be given high-protein grains as a supplement.

“We’re fortunate to have a great partnership with Black Mountain’s Pisgah Brewing Company, allowing us to take spent organic barley from their brewing process and blend it as feed for our animals,” Casey explains. All of the meats at the shop will be free of added hormones and routine antibiotics, he says. And some staff work double duty on the farm and in the shop, giving customers a rare level of transparency.

The McKissicks’ goal is to educate people about how to use every ounce of the animal. Visitors will be able to chat with butcher and chef Karen Fowler, whose cooking experience with local restaurants such as The Admiral and Cucina 24, combined with butchery experience at Greenlife, Earthfare and The Chop Shop, have prepared her well for this unique position. “I’d like to do some things you don’t see anymore, like potted ham,” Fowler says. “European peasant food and old-school Southern cuisines overlap; both incorporate the whole animal rather than just the premium cuts.” By initiating customers with a sampling of prepared dishes, Fowler hopes to inspire them in their own cooking.

Besides a stunning array of meats, the Butcher shop will offer deli sandwiches made to order, as well as grab-and-go cooked items such as pulled-pork barbecue, boneless short ribs and even oddities like pig tails, all prepared by Fowler. There will be a refrigerator with North Carolina creamline milk, buttermilk, yogurt and butter. Local eggs and cheese will also be available.

In the spirit of community, the store’s grand opening will coincide with Dynamite Roasting Company’s five-year anniversary, and Pisgah Brewing is creating a special-edition smoked beer for the event, aptly dubbed “Butcher Babe.” Promising some old favorites as well as unusual amuse-bouches, or small bites, Fowler advises, “Come with an empty belly and an open mind.”

Foothills Farm and Butchery Grand Opening Block Party will be held noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, at 1196-B Old U.S. 70, Black Mountain.

For shop hours, visit Foothills’ Facebook page or go to foothilllocalmeats.com.

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About Toni Sherwood
Toni Sherwood is an award-winning filmmaker & writer of articles, screenplays, and fiction. Recently she wrote, produced & directed two sketch comedy films soon to embark on the 2014-15 film festival circuit.

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