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Now Serving Kangaroo on the Barbie

Jordan Wright
By Jordan Wright
Posted on Mar 11,2009
Filed Under Food And Wine , Local Tastes,

photo by Roy Wright/Local Kicks
The rough-hewn Steve Gatward opened his butcher shop "Let's Meat on The Avenue"
 in Del Ray a year ago. Born an Englishman, he migrated to Australia where he lived
for 25 years, becoming well versed in the culture, and picking up a bit of charming
Aussie twang.

It’s been less than a year since Steve Gatward opened his butcher shop on Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray.

The rough-hewn Gatward took the circuitous route to get to our shores. Born an Englishman he migrated to the land Down Under where he lived for 25 years, becoming well versed in the culture. It seems that there he picked up a bit of charming Aussie twang.

I had heard that his shop “Let’s Meat on the Avenue” had kangaroo meat and, inspired by the recent balmy weather, I thought it might be fun to throw some “on the barbie”.

Chalkboard at "Let's Meat on the Avenue"

It was late afternoon and golden shafts of sunlight filtered into the sparkling shop beaming down on an old wooden cutting block where lay the largest oven-browned dog bones I had ever seen. Alexandria is one of the ten top dog friendly cities in the country and to our beloved canines coming here must be like making the Hajj for pilgrims.

Shelves of gourmet spices, grill sauces and accompaniments were martialed together waiting to be paired up with your choice of meat. The rosy loins and chops were aligned side-by-side awaiting a sheet of crisp white butcher paper before the rush home for supper’s preparation.

This old-fashioned butcher shop felt as though it was 1955 and the world was still buying their meat cut-to-order without the plastic padding and styrofoam trays. I inquired of the kangaroo meat. Yes, he had it. Yes, he had ground and filets. This was getting better.

I discovered that kangaroo is free range and comes from the wilds outside Queensland in the northern part of Australia. Licensed shooters bag the animal, which is then taken to a government-registered site, and sold through a cooperative that sets fair market value. The truly amazing thing about using kangaroo meat is the sustainability and farm-less raising.

According to a recent study by the journal Conservation News kangaroos emit less than 7 pounds of the dangerous methane greenhouse gases as compared to eleven pounds from sheep and cattle. Apparently their stomachs are far more efficient.

Australian Salt

There is currently a proposal calling for Australian farms to convert by 2010 to the more natural semi-arid rangelands that the kangaroos prefer from the artificially grown grasslands that are needed for sheep and cattle. They hope to increase the existing 13 million kangaroos to five or six times that amount. This is the new age of environmentally-sound farming.

Gatward showed me around the shop where he also carries Greg Norman’s New Zealand Wagyu beef (we know it as kobe) steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs and Niman Ranch’s, all-natural, hormone and pesticide-free beef.

He is proudest of his own in-house made sausage, no preservatives and no fillers, and on the day I was there he was featuring English, Spanish Lamb Merguez, Sweet Italian and Serbian, which was made with lamb, beef, pork, onion, garlic and cayenne. I could hardly wait to get some home and “fire up the grill” as we say here.

If you go…
Let’s Meat on the Avenue
2403 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301

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