For many people, lamb is a favorite meat, usually enjoyed in the spring. This month, 12th Avenue Grill gives patrons an additional reason to enjoy it: lamb has a role in Hawaii’s sustainability, and we should be aware of that role as we celebrate Earth Month.
“Cultivating local meat sources leaves a smaller carbon foot print than importing Colorado or New Zealand lamb and also helps increase demand, which we hope will increase production in our islands, thus moving us a little closer to food security,” said 12th Avenue Grill owner Kevin Hanney, who often tries to raise awareness of local farmers through his special menus. “Chef J. schoonover is butchering the whole lamb to make use of every possible cut and interesting flavors (as well as bones and a few organs) so nothing is wasted and sustainable practices are preserved.”
Hanney gets his lamb from Maui Cattle Co., a co-op of ranchers who share similar sustainable practices: Cattle, sheep, venison and goat are grass-fed and pasture-raised with no hormones or pesticides. They also employ micro-herding, which involves moving the cattle and sheep more often in smaller areas of pasture in order to give drought-affected areas more time to recuperate. Since the areas are smaller, the sheep have to be trained to bond with the cattle, basically to get along and graze in the same place. This also cuts down on the need for herbicide to kill invasive species of plants.
Maui Cattle Co. also tests every batch of meat for tenderness and consistency, which is a plus. How does it taste? You can be the judge. Every Monday in April, 12th Avenue Grill will feature lamb on the menu. Since they are using every part of the animal, the special will change each week. I had the leg last night (see gallery, below); April 8 will be smoked, slow roasted shoulder with Manoa honey and kumquat marmalade, baby Big Island fennel, and kabocha farro; April 15, try Maui Brewing Co. Mana wheat beer-braised lamb shank with Anson Mills toasted stone-cut oats and lotus root chips; and April 22 will simply be rack of lamb. They’ll also be holding a butchering class later this month, which Nonstop’s Ed Morita will take part in.
Confit Shinsato Farms pork belly (1 of 5)
Okay, I didn't go straight into the lamb. We started with a small plate of confit Shinsato Farms pork belly with Kunia Country Farms dandelion greens and a Ka Lei egg, drizzled with Kula strawberry-green apple-Thai basil jus. It's like eating bacon and eggs...very hearty bacon and eggs. I'd recommend this to share.
12th Avenue Grill
1145C 12th Avenue