Could you say that I'm a discerning consumer? Possibly.

The meat vending machines are open 24 hours a day.

While for the most part, I am ok with purchasing grocery store meat to cook with at home, I long for more. More what? Let's start with more flavor. Yes, the grocery stores do a good job at getting you value-priced options to feed your family, but does the meat taste good? Really good?

I have found that going to a place that specializes in just meat, can really change the quality and taste of the meals that you serve your loved ones.

There are a few places that I have been shopping, from Marbled Meat Shop in Cold Spring to Elias Meat Market in Highland to The Meat Market in Great Barrington and Hahn Farm on Salt Point.

This weekend I finally made it to Applestone Meat in Stone Ridge and their meat vending machines. I have been following these guys since they had their shop, under a different name in Rhinebeck, but had not made it to either one of their 'new' locations in Stone Ridge or Accord. The meat vending machines are open 24 hours a day.

Meat vending machine, you say? Temperature controlled, auto-mat style machines that take credit cards and dispense you with taste cuts of lamb, pork or beef that you take home and cook.

The Stone Ridge location also has a customer service window that is open from 11am to 6pm.

I left there happily with everything from soup and marrow bones to suet to gyro hot dogs to multiple braising cuts of beef. Will I be back? Most certainly.

Not sure if a butcher is for you? Make time to go into one near you and have a conversation with them. Ask about different cuts, how to prepare a specific item or just what the specials are. Remember, they are doing this because they love to do it. They are the experts, and they can help you make the most out of the toughest cuts or take the most tender pieces of meat to tasty nirvana.

There is a reason that there are more butchers in the tri-state area than there were even 10 years ago. Check them out.

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