Sunday, 13 November 2011

Bon Ton Meat Market

Have you ever known someone at work, or maybe a parent of another child on your kid’s soccer team, that you talk to on a semi-regular basis and then suddenly, when trying to get their attention from across the boardroom or playground, you realize you don’t know their name?  Surely you were given their name when you were first introduced months ago, but you didn’t use it right away, immediately forgot it, meant to ask for it, and now it is simply too late.  What’s worse, when you do catch their eye, they say those three dreaded words:

“Oh hey, Darin.”

This often happens to me, and it is not unlike other familiar “faces” I see frequently but haven’t made any attempt to get to know better.  For example, there is a meat shop I pass nearly every day on my commute called the Bon Ton Meat Market.  It’s been at its current location for nearly 20 years, and even though I used to live within 2 blocks of the shop, I have never darkened its doors until last week.  And I am embarrassed to say that I wish we had gotten acquainted years ago.

I suppose the name might have had something to do with it; I always assumed it was a specialty Asian butcher.  Usually, if I ever feel the urge the watch a row of barbecued ducks sway gently back and forth by their necks, there are plenty of other Asian markets I frequent (which also sell bootleg DVDs; trust me, you can’t really appreciate The Empire Strikes Back until you’ve seen it in the original Cantonese!), so I have never found any reason to try another one that only sells meat.

"Only sells meat."  Listen to me.  I was so young and naive two weeks ago.

Alison went to Bon Ton’s for the first time about a month ago, and it turns out that the name was chosen by its founder, Ed Roberts, to mean “the proper way to do things”.  (The phrase “bon ton” is French, so I only missed it by a continent and a few thousand miles.)   Bon Ton’s is an upscale meat shop located near the University of Calgary that has just about everything imaginable (except, ironically, Daffy and Donald on the gallows), and Alison has been eagerly waiting for a weekend when we would both be home so she could take me there.  We drove over last Sunday afternoon, walked under its unassuming blue & white plastic storefront sign, and entered a carnivore’s version of nirvana.  I was greeted by counters full of the best cuts of pork and beef I have ever seen, rows and rows of ribs (back and side), a wall of coolers filled with elk, bison, and caribou, and even an 8 foot long display of cheesecake slices in more varieties than I thought possible. (Did I just see a cheesecake with a crust made of sirloin?  Can’t be.  I must be hallucinating from the overwhelming selection of edible animals surrounding me.)  To a foodie like me, this place is the equivalent of a meth lab.  Just plug an IV into my arm and fill me up with a full paycheque’s worth of prosciutto, baby back ribs, and filet mignon.  Oh, and wrap it all in bacon.

By the way, yes, I know that cheesecake isn’t a meat, but you have to admit it’s a real nice touch to offer it at a meat shop.  After all, every meal should include some vegetables.

My only complaint about Bon Ton’s is the first display that confronts you as soon as you enter the shop: chew snacks for dogs.  It was pretty unappetizing to be accosted by wire racks filled with unwrapped pig offal, particularly ears.  That’s right, ears.  Big hairy ones, too.  I suppose they must be appetizing to the Big Bad Wolf and his domesticated descendents, but it’s a very unpleasant first impression for non-canine customers.   It only took me a few minutes to regain my appetite, but they should simply put out a sign and keep the critter snacks in the back.

We left without doing too much damage to our grocery budget, buying some hot n’ spicy paprika salami, pepper-jack cheese (I know, also not a meat), some thick pork chops (I didn't even know pork chops could be thick), and blueberry bison sausages.  I already can’t wait for next year’s BBQ season; Bon Ton and I will be having a torrid summer romance. 

Well, I'm going to leave you with a strange bit of meat trivia: my favourite candy is Sugar Babies.  (I know, still not a meat.  Be patient.)  Sadly, I can only find them south of the border, usually when I'm down at the cabin in Montana.  (If you google "Canadian Sugar Babies", you'll find something that doesn't remotely resemble bite-sized caramels.  "Tarts" come to mind, though.)  However, my co-worker, Beverly, just got back from Miami and brought me back a large box of them.  While chewing on a few (their chewiness is one of their best features), I decided to look up their origins.  You won't believe what I found: until 1988, Sugar Babies contained bacon! 

Is this a beautiful world, or what?

1 comment:

  1. sugar babies? hmmm.... I guess we want what we can't have, eh?


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