Silicon Valley meat market thriving despite recession

April 26, 2010 7:07:01 PM PDT
The recession has been tough on small Bay Area businesses, but every so often one beats the odds simply because of its loyal customers.

The signs outside do not offer many clues on what to expect one gourmet meat market in Silicon Valley. Inside, customers at Dittmer's find themselves transported to Germany.

Butcher Mark Bubert speaks German and makes more than three dozen kinds of sausage from recipes his father Dittmer brought from Germany. Through the years, the small shop in Mountain View has developed an international following.

"We have people coming from Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Canada, West Coast, East Coast, pretty much all over," Bubert says.

Smoked meats, from ham to poultry, are also featured. Demand keeps two smokers busy in the backroom as the aroma permeates the store. At lunchtime, hungry customers have a hard time deciding what to order.

"I've actually had 'Sausage of the Day' sometimes. They have specials, different kind of sausages. Sometimes I'll try those," Mike Faster of Morgan Hill says. "But, my standby is the smoked turkey and smoked Gouda, no, smoked cheddar on Dutch crunch."

There is one customer who knows the shop well. Her name is Gerda Albrecht and she has been shopping there since 1978. There is one big draw that keeps her coming back.

"This meat is for us. I only talk for me. The best, the best," she says. "I don't say the price alone, but what goes in my body. I like to have the best."

Bubert always shares a favorite recipe with anyone unsure how to use some of his gourmet meats.

"I have a lot of chefs who come in the store here. I listen to what people have to say and then I'll do a little mix of my own style of cooking and try it at home, or try it on my friends, my guinea pigs so to speak, my neighbors," he says.

Thanks to Bubert, Albrecht recently went home with a new twist to an old German specialty.

"Today he told me he was making roulade, but not with mustard, but with meerrettich. What is horseradish in English? Meerrettich. So, I'm going to try this," Albrecht said.

Dittmer's offers a taste of Germany in the heart of Silicon Valley.


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