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Weeks ago, saffronjan asked me where there were good butchers in the city. At the time, I had no idea, but I had every good intention of sending her the gist of whatever Toronto Life recommended, since they're usually good about that sort of thing. Now, however, thanks to a guided tour of St. Lawrence market provided by lemur_catta and chickenfeet2003, I can recommend the market enthusiastically. The downside is that it's not particularly close to the person who needs it.

Meanwhile, for centralish-westish Toronto, Toronto Life recommends the Bloor Meat Market (way west at 2283 Bloor West), Cumbrae's Naturally Raised Fine Meats (481 Church at Wellesley), Grace Meat Market (644 College St. at Grace), Happy Meat Market (340 Spadina at Dundas), Nicola's Choice Meats (298 Eglington W at Avenue), Talho e Salsicharia Rui Gomes (713 College at Grace), and the Kensington Market staple St. Andrew Poultry (17 St. Andrew St.).

Meat is not something I know a great deal about; rather, I don't know a great deal about buying it. How do you recognize good meat? I can buy and cook meat (although usually I delegate meat-cooking to C. - he's good at it these days). But how can you recognize a good piece of meat by looking, shy of buying things which smell fresh?

In Halifax, I ordered an assorted game entrée for dinner one night: red deer, caribou, quail, and game sausage. The red deer was tasty, a bit watery, but would make a good staple meat. The caribou was rich, full of flavor, delicious, a treat.


I was very sorry to hear that Julia Child died on Friday.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 15th, 2004 07:13 pm (UTC)
If you're not looking for the fancy stuff, but want better-than-supermarket quality meat at much-better-than-supermarket prices, I like European Meat Market in Kensington Market on Baldwin and Kensington. I can't claim it's organic or free range or anything like that, but it's a lot of chuck for the buck. High turnover too, you can be sure-- it's a bit of a zoo. Also features a snack bar grill for a cheap, tasty lunch.
Aug. 16th, 2004 03:32 pm (UTC)
I've been there a few times and it's always very crowded. While that's fine for buying reasonably priced and enormous pieces of meat (two meals from one chicken breast!) it means that it's awkward for me to ask about the meat much. I feel rather ignorant and keep buying the same few things there.

I haven't tried their grill there - thanks for the recommendation!
Aug. 15th, 2004 10:56 pm (UTC)
how to buy good meat
how to buy good meat (tm)

red meat should look red. It should not look greyish or brownish at all.
It should have a nice deep color. It should be moist but not slimmy to the touch. Marbling, a nice piece of beef should look like it's got little flecks of fat through out it. You want alot of little flecks and NOT big chunks. The little flecks melt, creating flavor and mouth feel. The big chunks just kinda stay there and are icky.

Poultry should be paleish yellow, depending on the feed used. It should definitely be paleish, it should be firm to the touch and not slimmy. If you're buying a whole bird, you want a nice white or yellow skin. Additionally, you do NOT want the wing tips to be discolored in anyway.
Poultry doesn't marble at all. What you want though is a good meat to bone ratio if you're buying whole. Skinny chickens are more money per pound of edible meat, than a nice big roaster.

Pork should be a pale pink color (or a redish color if it's dark meat) It should look moist and not be slimmy to the touch. You also want some good marbling on Pork if you can, but loins tend to be very lean actually.. so it's unlikely you'll see it.

lamb and game meat should look really burgundy in color.
Marbling is also your friend here.

Hope that helps..
btw.. the most important tip to buying good meat. Talk to your butcher, go back often, and be NICE to him/her.
Aug. 16th, 2004 03:30 pm (UTC)
Re: how to buy good meat
Thank you for all of the useful advice!

I've never been sure how to choose a butcher shop, so I've always shyly just bought prepack meat in the supermarket, even though I knew there must be better options. Part of the problem is crowds. I've gone to one of the butcher shops in Kensington Market a few times, but it's always very crowded, very busy. Now normally a busy shop is a good shop, and a recommendation, but it equally means I have to yell across the heads of others to talk to whichever whirling dervish of sales assistant is helping me. This is neither a good way of establishing a relationship with a butcher of any sort, nor an easy way of asking for advice, because the crowds also mean I can't see the display cases very well.

The other market, St. Lawrence, looked more promising in terms of being able to consult with the butcher about the meat for sale; it might also behoove me to check out some of the shops I went to the work of typing up for someone else's sake. Now, at least, thanks to you, I have a better sense for the incentives in finding a butcher to trust.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )