April 12, 2011

On the Hoof

Black Angus

A black angus cow walking in a green pasture with a forest in the background at Black Bird FarmsWhile based at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska during the early 1970’s, I would, once a month after pay day, treat myself to dinner at the Black Angus restaurant.

This one meal would severely chew into my meager Specialist 5th Class pay, but the monthly break from mess hall chow was well worth it because, as the name implies, the Black Angus served great steaks.

Recently my wife and I headed to Blackbird Farm in Smithfield, Rhode Island to visit one of the very few local breeding farms of authentic Black Angus cattle. Owner and proprietor Anne Marie Bouthillette graciously spent time explaining the meticulous dedication to detail which is required to raise fine pedigreed Black Angus.

“Quality and integrity,” Anne Marie stressed several times during our visit. Blackbird Farm is very selective about the types of grain and feed they buy and only use steroids or hormones if it is a medical necessity. Their herd numbers 70 head of the distinctive pure black animals roaming peaceably on the over 100 acres of the Bouthillette’s property. Land, which Anne Marie and her husband Kevin proudly say, would have grown “colonials and capes” if they had not purchased it through the years.

Much to my surprise and delight, when Anne Marie gave us a tour of their charming, rambling farmhouse, I discovered her beautiful kitchen was outfitted with Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances. An avid cook, she even has been known to give a cooking class to show customers the best methods of preparing their cuts of beef.

The reputation of Blackbird Farm is spreading throughout the region as top restaurants such as Tallulah’s of Newport, Nicks on Broadway, Chez Pascal, Castle Hill, Tini and the soon-to-open Avenue N in Rumford all proudly serve their beef.

Homeowners can also enjoy the genuine Angus Beef of Blackbird Farm. The Bouthillettes operate a farm stand, which is open about 5 months out of the year, at the intersection of Douglas Pike (Rt. 7) and Limerock Road in Smithfield. When not open, retail purchases can still be made by calling 401-232-2495 to schedule a pick up at he farm. Fresh cuts are also available at Persimmon Provisions in Barrington, Rhode Island.

Anne Marie informed us that, unfortunately, supermarket beef need only contain 10% Angus to be labeled as “certified.” One taste of the genuine Blackbird Farm Angus will be all you need to discern the difference.

Nothing like a Black Angus meal!

As we were saying goodbye to Anne Marie, her 19-year-old son Brandon trotted down the path on his horse. Brandon is heavily involved with the breeding process at Blackbird Farm and the pride he shows in carrying on this family tradition is quickly evident. With his siblings Samantha, 22, and Troy, 15, also involved with the operation, the future of these 100 plus acres is in good hands. For more information, visit: www.blackbirdfarmri.com