My favorite part of scouting out the next great slice of bacon is deciding on which market to visit. My goal during the Holidays was to somehow get to Iowa so we could feature a meat market before the 2014 Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines the first weekend in February. As luck would have it, my “9-5” job would require me to travel through east central Iowa during the middle of January.
Gilbertville is a small town located approximately 7 miles southeast of Waterloo in east central Iowa. As I drove into town the steeple of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was like a big hand waving at me to keep coming, keep coming. The church/school campus was bustling with activity as people and cars moved about. As I made my way to the center of town, I found the post office, The Dew Drop Inn and what appeared to be the Gilbertville Locker. As I pulled up to the front/side door tucked off the main drag on a residential street, I was surprised and intrigued to see a gooseneck livestock trailer backed up to a chute located near the rear of the building. A young boy was standing on the side of the trailer watching as his critter was unloaded into what I assume was a holding pen inside the building. After seeing the boy and the trailer, I knew I had made the right decision to visit Gilbertville.
While most of the meat markets that we have reviewed to date cater to suburban families or tourism customers, the Gilbertville Locker is a farmer’s meat market. The animals are unloaded off the trailer into the back of the building and sent out the front door wrapped as steak, hamburger, roasts and more. There is no cute caricature of a pig wearing an apron adorning the front door. No milk or groceries to be had. Just meat and lots of it!
The Gilbertville Locker not only provides custom processing for local farmers and a small retail counter, they also provide wholesale meat products for local restaurants, schools and other institutions around the Waterloo area. Customers can purchase a wide variety of meats such as traditional cuts of beef, pork and chicken but also nontraditional proteins such as buffalo, goats and rabbits.
With only one flavor of bacon to choose from, I settled on 1lb of smoked bacon. I must admit, in a world where the “options” can be endless, it was refreshing to have only one option.
Time To Eat
As the temperatures plummeted to record lows in Minnesota yesterday, my skillet slowly warmed to SIZZLING as the sweet smell of smoke and pork belly filled the air. The package of thick cut bacon was a little more than a 1lb and was more than enough to feed the family. As the pictures will tell, the marbling was weighted more to the fat side than meat. This was evident in the shrinkage and the abundance of grease that was left after cooking. But, the thick cut helped balance everything after the cooking was finished. The smokiness and salt flavoring were balanced perfect providing a pleasant eating experience. The bacon was similar to how the folks at Gilbertville Locker do business; straightforward and simple.
BaconScouts would no doubt recommend a visit to the Gilbertville Locker. Check them out online at www.gilbertvillelocker.com.
Once again, thank you to America’s livestock families and butchers for providing us with the best meat products in the world.