America has a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb… Well, more than a little, really. Approximately 6 million sheep call the United States home. Lamb is raised in all fifty U.S. states. Over 40 different breeds of sheep and 68,000 sheep ranches exist in this nation. Most of them are family-owned and family-operated. And sheep are natural-born environmentalists: grazing sheep help suppress soil erosion, fires, and weeds and promote soil fertility and tree growth.
But folks in the lamb biz – like American Lamb – would like to see Americans eat more. Much more. Here are a few more stats from them:
- Approximately 3/4 of all fine dining establishments have lamb on the menu.
- The average American consumes a mere 1 pound of lamb per year.
- Lamb provides such nutrition as protein, Vitamin B12, niacin, zinc, and selenium.
- U.S. lamb is free from Artificial Growth Hormones.
- On average, 175 calories exist in three ounces of lamb.
- Roughly 1/3 of Americans have never eaten lamb.
Enter the Fans of Lamb Jam and their annual tour. This year’s 2011-2012 Lamb Jam Tour kicked off with Seattle Lamb Jam, held earlier today (technically yesterday) on Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center. (Your Hedonista attended as media.) The other cities on this tour include Boston, MA (February 19, 2012), Washington, DC (May 20, 2012), and San Francisco, CA (July 5, 2012).
This event was brought to Seattle by American Lamb to benefit the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance. Those who paid the $50 a ticket got an etched wine glass and access to swag like a lamb reusable bag and other lamb-themed items like stickers, lip balm, magnets, and temporary tattoos, as well as access to nineteen of the greater Seattle area’s top eateries divided up the four cuts of lamb that are NOT the rack: shoulder, shank, leg, and loin. Dessert bites were provided by Cookie Box and coffee by Starbucks.
In addition, some thirty-two wineries (plus Pike Brewing Company) joined forces to help wash down all of the lambalicious goodness. Bites like the one from Chef Jay Bartleson of the Bell Harbor International Conference Center, who concocted whimsical “lamb cones” constructed with lamb topped with either yellow parsnip purée, purple potato, or orange red garnet yam and then finally drizzled with huckleberry demi and basil oil. Or Chef Gavin Stephenson of The Georgian: Native American lamb BBQ made with Fairmont rooftop honey and served on Pike Ale rubbed rye bread. Or Bastille Café & Bar’s Chef Jason Stoneburner’s lamb paillard, served atop gnocchi torchon, and spiced heirloom Nantes carrots, who won the People’s Choice Award for the leg cut category.
The People Choice Awards went to the following, in each lamb cut category:
- Shoulder: the sumac masala rubbed lamb shoulder with cauliflower purée, royal pine mushrooms and honey crisp apples by Chef Andrew Wilson of Portals at Suncadia Lodge.
- Shank: the “Final-Final” – braised lamb shank crepinette served with truffled Yukon gold potato purée, chanterelle confit, and pickled cipollini onions by Chef Bobby Moore of Barking Frog;
- Leg: the lamb paillard by Chef Jason Stoneburner of Bastille Café & Bar; and
- Loin: the smoked lamb Carpaccio, complete with truffled white bean skordalia by Chef Liam Spence of LOLA.
Another highlight of the event was a lamb butcher demonstration by Tracy Smaciarz, butcher and president of Heritage Meats, who discussed the various cuts of lamb and, in what seemed to be a blink of an eye, quickly butchered the 100% grass fed lamb provided by Hawley Lamb Ranch of Cottage Grove, Oregon.
“I wasn’t taught to butcher slow,” Tracy informed me post-butchering.
The demo was facilitated by The Chef In The Hat Thierry Rautureau of Rover’s and Luc.
(Check out the Twitter hashtag #LambJam for today’s tweets. They also have an American Lamb Jam Facebook page, too.)