I first met Rian Rinn about 10 years ago, when we were both living in Healdsburg. I had my first place (and therefore a kitchen) without roommates, and was just learning to cook. Rian was peddling meat out of his garage in an ad-hoc CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I’d come home with random cuts every week or so, and then search my cookbooks and troll the internet on how to use this new-to-me piece of meat.

Just like my cooking, Rian’s meat providing has evolved over the years. Today, along with his partner Jenine, they run the Sonoma County Meat Company. This custom butcher shop, located at 35 Sebastopol Ave. in Santa Rosa, opened in Spring of 2014. Since then, they have been serving the people of Santa Rosa and surrounding communities with high-quality, locally raised and sustainable meats.

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I regularly turn to SCMC for whole chickens, assorted cuts of beef, rabbit, sausages and bacon. They do their own smoking and make their own sausage, and there is always a new flavor of something to try. The staff is always friendly and happy to cut something smaller, or piece out my chicken for me. I like asking for recommendations on how to use a particular cut I’m not familiar with. If they don’t have what you’re looking for in their case, make sure to ask if they have it in the back. If not, they are always happy to make a suggestion for something similar.

img_6686One thing that I love about the Meat Co is that they don’t shy away from nose to tail. If you’re looking for a head to make headcheese or blood to make blood sausage, or fat to render for lard, they won’t give you a blank stare and think you came from crazy-town. Try asking for something like that at Safeway. I haven’t yet mustered up the courage to make headcheese, but it’s on my list of culinary experiments, and I am glad to know where I can source such a thing.

In addition to providing meat for retail customers like me, people can bring in their livestock and game for processing. They are the county’s only USDA inspected facility, making it possible for small farms and ranches to have their animals processed and packaged for sale at their own farms. They also offer a meat CSA, providing customers a monthly allotment of locally sourced meats.

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Make sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram for notifications of sales, classes and events. When you visit, check out the collection of knives on the wall, all procured from customers over the years in exchange for sausage. My vintage curved butcher’s knife is down there on bottom row.

There are plenty of places to visit them online, too.