It seems that the most important thing in life is food. When I started this blog, I had this grand idea that it would focus on the beautiful tourist (and non-tourist) elements of this wonderful city. Alas, I have become a food reviewer. I say that like it’s a bad thing. It’s not for one simple reason – there is some SERIOUSLY good food in Jozi for people to enjoy. Sadly, most people are much happier going to Col’Cacchio and Adega, because these are good quality chain stores, instead of trying out the little boutique on the corner of your road but I can’t do much about that. Also, those two make some seriously good food but I digress. To convince myself that I am not a food critic, this blog is about the source rather than the end result of cooking. Yes, this blog is about a butchery. I don’t believe that a butchery has ever been the subject of a blog in the history of the internet but hey, Finding Jozi is about firsts you know!
Larnie Meats has been around for just over a year. They are, what you can call, an Indian butcher. Back in Durban, these butchers were everywhere selling only mutton (lamb) and chicken so to ensure that both the Hindu and Muslim population were quite happy that the meat they were buying is indeed fit for consumption as per your beliefs. In recent times, this has become quite an issue with the whole Orion scandal (and others) which really shows how people are more interested in profits than anything else. Beliefs have taken a back seat and I’m sure it is entirely possible that the meat packer for Pick n Pay or Woolworths will mistakenly use the same utensils to cut the lamb and pork or fail to clean a common machine properly. Or they could package something wrongly. This is why specialist butcheries win. You know exactly what you’re getting and you will get it in exactly the form you like. I’m sure if you speak to the guys at Larnie Meats, they will tell you as much of the origin of the meat as you want to know. It personalises the experience so much more and it does make the entire cooking experience that much better. There are quite a lot of these specialist butcheries around town with their focus on specific cultures. I’ve seen Jewish, Portuguese, Muslim and Italian butcheries around and a few of Durban Indian origin although these are few and far between.
As with most Indian butchers as per the Durban model, Larnie Meats is strictly halaal and only focuses on lamb and chicken with their burgers and sausages being made in-house. And you know what – the meat is seriously good! Good for curries, good for braais and good for whatever else you do. I don’t know what they do to the meat but it really is just good. Unlike your Spars and Checkers, you will get properly cut curried pieces which taste better. I really don’t know how this works! Like seriously!! Its meat – how can it differ from place to place??
One of the sounds which you probably will remember from your childhood which is missing at your chain store is the cutting machine thingy which they use to prepare your meat. I was quite excited when they allowed me to actually go back and take a look at it. I was even more excited when I got some really cool pictures. I’ve always wanted to use one but I fright for my life as I am sure I will perform a self-amputation if I ever tried it.
I’ve never been in a cold room before. I am naturally squeamish so at might be part of the reason. It actually is pretty interesting. One thing I learnt from the food channel is that to be a good cook, you need to see the source of your products. So unless I go to an abattoir, I’m guessing this will do. Anyway, if you do want to check out what you are buying, just ask the butcher and you can go in and pick exactly what you desire.
The best part of specialist butcheries and Larnie Meats in particular is the sausages and burgers. Make them and you’ll be taken back to those succulent, juicy mutton burgers on a toasted bun with soggy lettuce with melted, nuclear yellow cheese and that AWESOME chilli sauce that you ate from one of those dodgy corner tea rooms in some road in town that you remember going to when you were a kid but when you tried going back to as an adult, you just couldn’t find the road!
One of the reasons I actually wanted to blog about this place is that this is quintessentially Jozi. This city is marvellous and ever so cosmopolitan. It’s nowhere as mixed as London but gosh, there are so many different cultures and people that call Jozi their home. Each one of these cultures brings this rich heritage with them from wherever they have lived last. It all comes together like a curry where you put in a multitude of spices which, when brought together, create this aroma and taste that is more than the sum of their parts. This butchery is basically just like one of those independent, quaint little bistros in the heart of old Jozi which gives you something that the big corporates cannot. These independent stores are all the authentic ingredients that make Jozi the great curry, I mean city, that is is. I’m a very vocal advocate of stores like these which offer a product of great quality. It beats going to any chain store. So yeah, if you are in the Randburg area (or even if you aren’t) go check them out and get some meat from here for your next braai.
When to go: The store is open daily from 09:00 to 17:00 during the week and 09:00 – 18:00 on Saturdays and 09:00 – 13:00 on Sundays. If you live in Randburg, you don’t even have to go to the store as they offer free delivery!
How to get there: They are situated at Shop 7, Fontainebleu Value Centre at 155 Republic Road in Randburg. It’s situated near the Plumblink which is quite hard to miss if you know the area. If you’re coming from beyond Randburg, Larnie Meats is easily accessible from the N1 via Malibongwe Drive which intersects with Republic Road.
Cost: Lamb is the most expensive of the common meats with it usually selling at around R100/kg when you’re buying half lamb at Pick n Pay. Even at this price (and the even higher price at Woolworths) I still would rather braai lamb than any other meat. Anyway, the general trend is that Larnie Meats is cheaper and the quality is better. I suggest joining their Facebook page, twitter and checking out their site for specials.
Anything Else: They have quite a large selection of chicken products, soya products and fresh vegetables and herbs that are brought up from Durban every Thursday. They also are quite active on social media which is quite innovative for this business type. I found out about them through this route so maybe you should reconsider your business’ social media strategy.