Meat and Greet

Gryffon's Aerie farm gives new appeal to old-world animals

When it comes to grilling, you're only as good as your chops. Increase your chance of success with meat from Gryffon's Aerie.

This Virginia farm specializes in heritage breeds of livestock that are naturally raised on a 240-acre farm near Charlottesville.

Until this year, Gryffon's Aerie products have only been available at the farm and at places like Quill and Bourbon Steak. But now owner Collins Huff is selling directly to the public at the White House farmers' market.

The farm's deeply marbled beef comes from Devon cattle, a breed that dates back to Colonial times. In addition to the cattle, Huff also raises Tamworth hogs, which develop a nutty flavor from their diverse grazing diet. Cotswold and wooly, horned Karakul sheep round out the menagerie.

Huff and his wife, Ramona (who has been dubbed "the cow whisperer" for her caring approach), have hit the sweet spot in raising plump, happy animals. The cattle are fed an all-grass diet, which leads to more-flavorful cuts of meat than those that come from their grain-fed counterparts. With richness, higher vitamin content (including omega-3s) and less gristle, these steaks bear little resemblance to wan beef from the supermarket fridge.

At tomorrow's farmers' market, Huff will debut with an all-beef stand, selling his burger-perfect ground beef, sirloin, New York strip and other popular cuts. As the season progresses, he will introduce a range of heritage pork products, including spareribs, bacon and sausages, as well as whole lambs by special order.

Through the Freshfarm Market by the White House, Thursdays from May 6 through Nov. 18, 3 to 7 p.m., 810 Vermont Ave. NW, between H and I sts.; freshfarmmarkets.org