Rolled tightly in wax paper, a caramel made with lard reveals the unlikely pairing that is Rose's Meat Market & Sweet Shop, which opened last month in Durham. Unfurled, the combination makes sense, both in a rich candy with the slightest hint of pork, and in the butcher/baker duo behind the confection: Justin and Katie Meddis.
The couple developed their concept for Rose's while living in San Francisco. Katie, a Chapel Hill native, served as pastry chef at Alice Waters' Chez Panisse, and Justin as executive chef at Ame, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the St. Regis Hotel. The two roles required different shifts.
"We weren't seeing each other," says Justin, wearing a metal knife holder around his waist with a sticker that reads "Nice Chops." Catching up on a rainy Monday afternoon, he finishes breaking down a steer, while Katie quietly makes French macaroons in the opposite corner of the shop.
As logistics demand, the bright storefront is split. To the right hangs a large hook and chain for butchering. There's a chopping block and a cooler, which displays an array of meats, including unfamiliar cuts such as pork collar steak. A chalkboard overhead lists some varieties and methods of preparation.
To the left, in a big, sunny window that overlooks North Gregson Street, is a dough rolling area. Cake stands hold galettes and pies. A refrigerator stores pots de crèmes spiced with fennel, lemon, cinnamon and vanilla.
But from a culinary standpoint, the two sides aren't disparate. They unite in offerings like the lard-based caramel, and in a brief, rotating sandwich menu that includes an in-house sausage wrapped in homemade puff pastry ($9). Both aspects of the business intend to demonstrate the abundance of local food. In addition to Katie's ties to the Triangle, that's what attracted the Meddises to settle here. As Justin noted from afar, the area had an impressive amount of humanely raised meat but few butcheries.
Hanging in Rose's walk-in cooler is a side of steer from Braeburn Farm in Snow Camp next to a pig from Matt Hight of Warren County. There's a tray of local blackberries, and flats of eggs from Fickle Creek Farm in Efland. "They aren't skimping when they say they're using local," says Sarah Blacklin, formerly of the Carrboro Farmers' Market and now of NC Choices, two organizations with whom the Meddises have led workshops and demonstrations.
Part of the Meddises' mission is educational, including the butcher shop and its practice to make use of all parts of an animal.
"Everybody wants the ribeyes and such," Justin says. "That's been the first challenge." He ends up offering a lot of advice. "Justin is talking the whole day," says Katie. "I think it helps that he was a chef first."
It also helps that the sweet shop aspect of the business showcases some of the butchery's cuts and byproducts. And that on hand are other goods from the region—Nello's pasta sauce, Farmers' Daughter Brand pickles and preserves, Anson Mills' farro and stone-cut toasted oats and 12 Bones barbecue sauce, among others—displayed near a small shelf that houses signed copies of Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food ($35).
"We want people to be able to pick out a meat and pick out a grain or sauce, too," Katie says of the supply. A sampling of vegetables is also for sale.
Everything at Rose's appears to be coming together—or almost everything. "I feel like I'm alone," Katie says, working on her side of the shop. "But I can look over and see him."