My dinner routine at home can get a little boring every now and then as I rotate between steak and chicken with the occasional pork chop thrown into the mix. So last week I expanded my palate a little and went to a lamb dinner at Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca, where I learned some basics about butchering a lamb (not that I’m trying that at home anytime soon…) and tried some great lamb dishes.
It’s not every day that you get to see an entire animal butchered right before your eyes. Not to mention done in such a precise, efficient manner as Chef Nick Stefanelli does it. I’d be lying to you if I told you I didn’t get a little woosy, even though I rationally told myself that this shouldn’t have been any different than seeing someone break down a chicken. But the foodie in me found the whole process pretty interesting, and it was especially important to hear that Stefanelli uses all of the lamb brought into Bibiana (down to serving the heart as a special on the menu occasionally). Plus, the lambs are raised humanely by farm owner Craig Rogers at Border Springs Farm in Virginia.
Rogers has a flock of 600 sheep at Border Springs Farm, and it’s clear when you hear Rogers speak that he puts his heart and soul into raising sheep. In his booming voice, he recounts how it’s always a solemn day when sheep have to be taken to slaughter. He jokes about his wife naming the sheep when they first started the farm, before the number of sheep grew too big to name each and every one of them. He even characterizes a rack of lamb as “sexy.” I’m not sure I see it, but I suppose there might be some other farmers or chefs who could agree.
So if you’re looking to branch out from the humdrum standards of drumsticks and filets, I’d recommend trying some of the lamb dishes over at Bibiana. My two favorites are the ravioli with lab, almonds, mint and chili as well as the lamb loin and tenderloin duo. And chances are if you go with any of the lamb specials, you won’t be disappointed either.