bou·tique / bu ‘tik / boo-teek /
1. a: a small fashionable shop | b: any small, exclusive producer
2. a small business that offers highly specialized services or products
3: a small business, department, etc., specializing in one aspect of a larger industry
I’ve always been a sucker for a good boutique. The merchandise laid out just so; the shiny surfaces buffed within an inch of their lives; the way you find something new at each turn; the small touches that whisper ‘come on in, browse a bit, just take a look around’.
On Tuesday evening RJ and I went to a local shop opening – a meat boutique to be exact. Yep, I said ‘meat boutique’, and I don’t mean the place Gaga went to for her infamous dress – although they may well oblige here if you asked nicely… I could have said butcher shop, but that wouldn’t do it justice. And I could have said providore but that is really just a fancied up grocery store. And I could have said deli but that certainly isn’t quite right either. So instead I’ve settled on ‘meat boutique’ because Hudson’s seems to meet the criteria [no pun intended] quite appropriately.
I had been into the Hudson’s in Cammeray a few weeks earlier, wandering around as I do in food boutiques and kitchen stores with a dreamy look in my eye, RJ gently leading me out to whatever it was we were probably late for, so it was good to have a bit of time to really look around and ask questions, and of course taste test.
Mosman is the fourth location in Sydney for Hudson Meats – the original opened in 2007 in Surry Hills, kicking off the boutique butcher trend in Sydney, and was followed by Cammeray and Lane Cove shortly thereafter. The Mosman store has taken over a space occupied by butcher stores for decades and they even discovered a bit of North Shore heritage during renovation in the form of a wall of decorative tiles behind the old cool room. The design feature takes pride of place directly opposite the front door and the colours and craftsmanship of the tiles are just beautiful.
You may be sitting there drumming your fingers thinking ‘but you don’t eat meat…’ and you would be correct, however as indicated by my excitement at the Meat Masterclass a few weeks back the ‘not eating’ has nothing to do with ‘not cooking’ and nothing at all to do with legs or eyes or whatever, but that’s another story for another day. From roast chicken to slow cooked lamb shanks to steaks with mushroom sauce – it all comes out for RJ, so a new high-end butcher, yeah, pretty exciting. Anyway…
We went and mingled, and RJ ate meaty bites like Lamb Meatballs on Cous Cous, thin sliced Beef on Yorkshire Pudding, Piri-piri Chicken, and Chorizo Sausage Rolls…
…while I was treated to the very more-ish antipasto specialties like Dolmades with Lemon Marinated Green Olives, Flatbreads with Goats Cheese, Honey and Walnuts, and Salmon Mousse tartletts. And although they didn’t make an appearance on the night the Spanish White Anchovies were calling my name from the corner of the display.
The lovely staff did a fabulous job of ferrying the non-meat dishes my way at every opportunity [thanks guys!] and we had a chance to taste some of the sauces and dry goods they carry in the store as well – although a lack of labels on the platters means that we don’t really know what was dipped and spread to make it all taste so good.
Hudson’s owners Colin Holt and Jeff Winfield are hands-on at all the stores and pride themselves on following a ‘paddock to plate’ philosophy and maintaining relationships with the farmers who supply their products. According to Jeff, it is about knowing where the product comes from, knowing how it was raised and being educated about the animals and the meat. Hudson’s predominately carry grass fed beef, although some grain fed is stocked, and salt-bush lamb and rare breed pork products take pride of place amongst other ‘not readily sourced products’.
The shelves are stocked with specialised deli products, dry goods and cookbooks that follow the same principals of quality and there are some lovely bits and pieces I’ve not seen elsewhere in Sydney. I definitely got my fill of packaging-porn! Colin – a former multi-hatted chef and restaurateur – even hosts the in-store ‘Talk and Taste’ nights, I’ll let you know if we make it to one.
As meat goes, Hudson’s is by no means a budget venture. But for Jeff and Colin it’s all about the quality, small-provider sustainability, paddock to plate philosophy, and providing the best products to discerning customers. Since RJ has cut back on red meat it means that the occasional splurge is more than possible so we will definitely be trying some bits and pieces soon.
HUDSON MEATS – MOSMAN
900 MILITARY ROAD
MOSMAN, NSW AUSTRALIA
I attended the shop opening as a guest of Hudson’s, however I have in no way been compensated for this post – well, not unless you count the Dolmades and Goats Cheese with Honey that made up my dinner that evening. Yum.