A month ago Rworange and I were swapping emails, talking about hot dogs and other meat related news. I said while I really enjoyed a good dog, I really don’t keep track of who made what dog for what restaurant and where these people might be. Using a fair amount of zeal, RW mentioned Dittmer’s down in Mt. View. I put it on my list of todo’s and thought it sounded like a good Meat Adventure.
I mentioned it to Chilebrown, we mulled it. Turns out Uncle Franks BBQ is right around the corner, so we set a date to visit both places.
Are you ready for a Meat Adventure that left a warm homey feeling that I feel even 3 days after? Can you handle it?
Okay, you’ve come this far and I have something to say before we get started. This adventure took place the morning after St. Patrick’s Day. Both CB and I were hung over and moving kinda slow. He forgot to bring his camera and I brought the wrong lens for mine. So, the images aren’t quite right and lacking.
Through all the fuzz CB showed up a few minutes early and I was ready to go. We piled in to my pickup with a large cooler in tow. Cooler for meat, not booze, this time. Then headed out towards Berkeley, first. Why Berkeley? Because Fatted Calf’s special this week was a little lamb leg roast stuffed with an olive tapanade, I needed one. Our first meat score!
CB said we should stop off at the Alemany Farmer’s Market. I’d never been and he needed his asparagus fix. He likes vegetables.
Out from Berkeley, over the bay bridge and in to San Francisco we flew. It’s a quick trip around 101 to the market. We shot off the freeway and parked, made our rounds (he got asparagus) and back on the freeway we went. Sure I could spend some blather on the market, but lets get to the good stuff.
Next stop, DITTMER’S !!!
Dittmer’s is about 20 some miles down hwy 101 from Alemany and at noon on Saturday, it was 70 mph all the way.
Once in Mt. View, we did a few turn arounds. The street numbers ain’t linear and we didn’t have a cross street. But good ol’ male determination pointed us back on track and we pulled in to the parking lot a little before 1pm.
What you notice first is that Dittmer’s is in a building shared with a stop & rob. I thought for sure it would look like Disneyland, only for meat. Off to the left and around the corner we go. mmMMm, smells like fresh cooking corned beef. The place isn’t that wide, maybe 4 feet for patrons. But the damned meat counter must be 45 to 50 feet long !!! The back wall is absolutely smattered with little jars and packages of imported goodies, all neat as a pin. As we walked back and forth in front of the meat, from one end to the other, it was obvious we came to the right place.
Listen up, I may not be a chef or a college degreed photographer (Craig Lee would have been fired for showing up with this dumb lens), but ol’ Dittmer knows his business and displays it better than well. CB and I both walked up and down that meat counter at least 3 times. The cured salami, smoked ham, slab bacon, sausages both fresh and cured, smoked turkey & pork & fresh veal, pork & beef are first rate. We’re talking Prime cuts of beef, oh yes. You can SEE the meat under the sausage casings is fresh & bright in color. Every piece of anything in that counter was carefully placed and primped, each damned piece. It makes you grin.
While we were scoping out the land, one of the things I noticed was that most of the staff & patrons were not speaking English. Not Spanish, not Cantonese, not Hindi, no not even Linear B (which I think is written, but you get my point) … it was German. Dang, not used to that, so cool!
Here I was, in a real German Wurst Haus, surrounded by meat. A dream come true. CB and I pulled a number, mine was 00, a good sign. He and I were pacing back and forth, pointing and stepping. We were 2 of about 6 people in there so the line went quickly, my number was up. What do I do? Okay, simmer down Biggles. Start with bacon, 2 pounds. I did the peace sign and pointed towards the bacon piles. The woman waiting on me was young with dark hair and seemed as though she was in a good mood, as was everyone. She cut the bacon and offered up either side, in German. COOL !!! I understand German when in a wurst haus, it’s universal. Meat, the universal language of love.
I noticed the fresh Garlic Sausages and asked for 4, then 4 Weisswurst and one of those Ukranian sausage rings. See, I chose the pudgy little garlic sausages first because it’s what my father used to prepare for my sister and me when we was young. I really hadn’t had any since and thought if I was going to buy some, this is the place and now is the time. I had quite a decent load already, but wanted a few more tasty treats. I asked for some help and was presented with a few slices of a wonderful paprika sausage. Oh man, it lolled about in my mouth with this bright, almost fruity spicy smoked meat flavor. Okay, I’ll take 2.
It was here I asked if she thought it would be okay if I took some pictures. She asked the manager and he was thrilled. He offered up some printed recipes and wanted to make sure I got a shot of all their awards on the back wall.
Geez, all won since 1978. Okay, I’m impressed, nicely done!
I can’t remember what all else I purchased, we haven’t eaten our way to the bottom of the bag yet. I’ve got some images of a few of the sausages and bacon coming later in the post, hold tight.
I finished up my turn and was told I needed to wait and have Dittmer show me the back. Alright, meat tour comin’.
Dittmer came out and greeted me, many times asking me to be careful. Safety first!
First stop was this huge cooking pot that had a substantial amount of netted meat. Man, this thing must have been about 35 gallons or so.
Here’s a hook loaded down with freshly smoked hams. I didn’t get one this time, but considering the quality of the other items, this is a must have. I think CB bought one for a friend of his, I’ll have to check in and see.
Here we see Dittmer showing us a load of bacon that just went in. They’ve got two 8 foot tall smokers, one very old. He pointed and showed me the new one. But he smiled with a twinkle in his eye and said the old one was where all the good flavors come from. This bacon will smoke at a low temperature, below 160F I’m guessing, for 48 hours. I think I need one of these, don’t you agree?
Before I go on to show you the product I purchased, I want to stop for a moment and reflect. I get pretty picky when rating grocery stores, meat counters, charcuterie and whatever else a snob can be a snob about. If your garlic is growing green sprouts and is soft, you suck. If you’re meat is fresh, tasty and well taken care of, but the butcher is a gruff pain in the ass? Well, you have good meat and watch out for the guy behind the counter. If you serve me pale, odd colored nasty sausages? I will not be returning. Here I am 4 days out and I can still remember the warm feeling of visiting family and being well taken care of. I believe if I’d asked the wonderful woman, whose name I didn’t get, if she’d cook dinner for me and show me how it’s done, she would have. Dittmer’s in every sense of the word, is a Destination Meat Encounter. Oh and a short mention about the prices, probably about half of what you are expecting. I could go on, but I don’t believe it’ll sharpen my point.
Let’s go have a look at a few of the tasty wonders that you could try. First up, since I did make the trip for the bacon, let’s start with the bacon!
Here we find a smoked portion of belly bacon, slices up nice. The bacon fries up very cleanly, no sticky residue on the bottom of the pan. I cooked the first portion medium, not floppy and not crispy. It’s a very clean and mild bacon, Mama said, “This is really good bacon.” The smoke flavor is a little light for me, but a good solid performer. The cure is a little tiny on the nice sweet side with NO salty burn afterwards. In fact, 10 minutes after the last piece, you’d be hard pressed to know you just ate bacon. Some day when I make my own, I hope to have it this good with a little more on the smoke side. I bought 2 lbs and it cost me about 7 and a half bucks.
Next up let’s take a look at the garlic sausages.
I am so glad I decided to buy these little guys. These were a suprise. 30+ years ago I remember them being a nice fat hot dog. But no, they have far more rich flavor, the texture of the meat is a tad coarser and they’re the juciest damned things ever. The casings were interesting, tore kinda like paper. Preparation? All you gotta do is boil them for 5 minutes and you’re done. Serve with a good German brown mustard.
Dinner #2 delivered the Weisswurst. A blend of veal, cream & egg. These are so mild, so creamy, it’s like eating a meat cloud. Whatever you serve with them, be careful because it’ll over power them quickly. So, we served them with a fine German beer and that was about it. They go quickly, so buy a few extra. I will most certainly buy again. Preparation? Boil for 5 minutes and serve.
The only reason I picked this little guy out was because I’d never had a Ukranian sausage before. Reason enough, don’t you agree?
I had no idea what to expect here, I didn’t ask, I didn’t want to because I was having fun. The last few sausages we had, I boiled. They were already cooked and just needed to be warmed. Unlike the others, this sucker sank right to the bottom when I plopped it in and it took 10 minutes to warm instead of the 5. This told me it would stand up GREAT on the grill or in the smoker. Once sliced it kinda looked like a kielbasa, but seemed to have a substantial amount of cracked black pepper. Yup, grill or smoker for this sucker. It was still outstanding gently warmed and served with good German mustard.
Wow, we’ve been eating Dittmer’s sausages for 5 days now and it’s only getting better. How better? Mama bought her OWN six pack of good beer to enjoy with dinner. How many of you can say the meat you served was so good your wife went out and bought booze to enjoy with it? Okay, a few of you. In any case, Dittmer’s is a slam dunk destination meat locale.
There you have it, the first leg in Chilebrown and Biggles’ Meat Adventure #2. Thank you Rworange and thank you CB for a grand day.
Next up will be Uncle Frank’s BBQ. Hold tight.
Dittmer’s Gourmet Meats & Wurst-Haus, Inc.
400 San Antonio Road
Mountain View, CA
(650) 941 – 3800
Store Hours: Monday-Friday 9-6 and Saturday 9-5
Dittmer’s web site