When I first discovered heritage meats in the Spring of 2011, it was like unearthing a buried treasure, a total accident (though it felt like it was meant to be found, and that I was meant to find it—and that is an encouraging thought!). Thinking that Duba & Co. would be the first heritage meat merchant in the United States, it wasn’t until August of that year that I stumbled on Heritage Foods, USA, based in Brooklyn, New York. At that time, CEO Patrick Martins and his team had been at it for nearly a decade. The company, run by a small team of dedicated individuals, moves upwards of 60,000 pounds of heritage meats each week and has been named Company of the Year by Bon Appetit, House & Garden, Newsweek, Saveur Magazine and The New York Times Magazine.
While away with my family last month seeking more buried treasure, this time in the form of Belted Galloway beef in the Allegheny mountains of Virginia whose tree-lined summits were awash in golds and reds, we navigated to the northeast where, in the heart of Brooklyn, Mr. Martins hosted my wife and me for a cup of coffee in his headquarters. While our daughter watched Tommy the Train on television, Martins and I became acquainted. Martins launched Slow Foods USA, the national chapter of the international Slow Foods movement based in Italy. After a misprint by the New York Times that Slow Foods USA would be selling heritage turkeys, the company was born to meet the demand for heritage meats.
Heritage Foods is the creator of the Heritage Radio Network, a national radio station that hosts almost 50 programs dedicated to the Slow Foods movement. Its recording studio is in Roberta’s, the rustic Italian restaurant just around the block from the company headquarters. There, guests can watch the recordings live. Martins invited us to attend that morning’s recording session and invited us back to Roberta’s the following day, a Friday, for a heritage foods tasting event. Even now, as I write, I feel the regret of not being able to accept either invitation. We traded pizza at Roberta’s for a sandwich in Grand Central Station, boarded the train which whisked us back to our car, and drove west until a warm October evening closed in on us.