Foodies live here

The Venerable Saint Lawrence market on Front Street, Toronto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There I went today after my sausage mission to St. Catharines, arriving at the market at the height of noontime traffic.  One 0f the possibilities was to find a table at one of the market restaurants and to pull out my old-fashioned phone list of my Saint Catharines market customers that do not use email and to contact this extremely loyal group of 77 and take their market orders for the March 17 Saint Catharines market.  Entering, past the jam-packed Fish and Chips restaurant | realized that happily this would not be a work environment but that I was free to pursue my own market purchases ignoring those soon in need of sausage.

eating in basement of Saint Lawrence market
CSIS came up in my neighbours conversation so I surreptitiously took a selfie including them and made an entry into their permanent file

 

I have made regular pilgrimages over the years to the Saint Lawrence market (downtown Toronto).

  • 1977 on a visit to my oldest brother, Steve, at his Purple Sageway residence I finched a ride down to the subway at Finch and did quite the extensive walking tour of downtown Toronto using an architectural guidebook I had acquired somewhere along the way
  • 1985, for part of a week at Riverside Community Church which is nearby I actually stayed with a family at a Regent Park apartment.  I remember eating wieners and spaghetti (yes, that latter day Sheldon  Cooper favourite). and on the same day hearing the family’s young teenage daughter remarking on the blueness of my eyes.  I don’t know where she might be now but my prayer for her is that there are a pair of blue eyes so true looking after her..
  • early 1990ish I did some shopping for a Thanksgiving dinner at the same market, considering but not, in fact, buying the fresh gooses that were proferred by the foul vendors there
  • 2014? Denis Bell and I shop at the market as he is a both a fellow foodie and lives only a dozen or so blocks away
  • jump to 2015, days before Christmas and I am with my brown-eyed-girl-who-loves-my-eyes-too at One King West for a few days and I’m shopping to supply the kitchen in our suite apartment there

my first trip to downtown T.O. at 15 years old included a picture of this iconic Front Street building

 

Today, I have  until 3:15 when my train leaves from Union Station, so why not shop the Saint Lawrence market?

Vanity Fair

On Friday, I decided to end my work day with a walk downtown for a much-needed haircut.  It’s always a pleasant experience for me at Icone Coiffure.  Brenda Desmarais has been cutting my hair for approaching ten years now  – it’s a sure thing.

Another sure thing is that afterwards I take the Sainte Catherine street route home.  Contrary to my wife, Carol, I really like visiting the shops.  So I went that way.

I must say I was disciplined to walk right on by the audio shop where I most recently purchased a centre speaker for my home theatre system.  I considered whether I should look at the next possible addition to the home theatre system, but, like I said, I was disciplined and stayed away on the other side of the street.

Immediately after, I crossed over the street for the H & M store where they promised special one-day only bargains.  H & M specializes in cheap fashion.  When I found the men’s ware – moved from the top floor to the basement floor I thoroughly investigated. I tried on one dark green shirt – seeing if it would go with the dull green pants I was wearing and also enjoined a blue shirt and similarly coloured T-shirt.  Trying them on was a revelation.  Not a pleasant one – my belly, which Carol used to comment on as “cute” now was making me take a pledge to cut down on the food that I’m eating as well as maintaining the winter skating and skiing.  So I decided to leave H & M with no purchase.

Next block – H.M.V.  The liquidation signs in the window were real.  Montreal is losing its last dedicated music store – I mean for CD’s and now DVD movies and TV series and concert DVDs and all kinds of frivolous music and movie merchandise.  I really thoroughly looked through DVD’s.  (Why would I want to own a movie or TV series when I can stream it on demand?)  Descended to what was left of the music industry on CD’s in the basement.  (Why would I want to own music on CD when I can have anything I want for $10 per month on Spotify?).  Left H.M.V. with nothing but a mild depression about the limited revenues left to artists (like Jireh) from recorded music.

When I skate or ski, there is nothing better than to have the right clothing for staying outdoors comfortably for hours.  Decided I might need a better toque and sought to fill that need at Sports Experts.  Up to the third floor where I found where they were hiding winter apparel.  Contemplated the high prices and inadequacy of the toques available.  Looked at high quality long underwear.  You can never have too much of this stuff.  Prices in line with what I might have spent at the audio store.  Decided that the old-fashioned Stanfield long johns that I got from dad were retro-cool.  Left this store down the stairs (they were renovating the escalator) with nothing.  Woops – why do I still have this knit neck warmer still in my hands.  Back up to return it….and exit with no purchase, and no criminal record.

I had a reason to go into Indigo Books, but I don’t recall at the moment what it was.  They have some reasonably-priced books…$6 or so and I looked through those.  Remembered when it used to take a lot longer for this sale browse.  Remembered when I used to occasionally buy books before the e-books at the library became so conveniently available on my iPad.  Similar reflections about the limited revenues left to writers as I had in the H.M.V. store about recorded music.

Then I left Sainte Catherine street and went inside to the parallel underground inter-connected malls.  I can’t remember stopping much here.  Briefly in Winners – but they had no winter-ware.  Into the McGill metro station skipping the last couple of malls and then a brief last chance past racks of clothes in the men’s section at the Bay, up the elevator and north toward home.

At the supermarket just 2 blocks from home I refreshed my memory of my earlier belly-reduction resolution and didn’t buy the 10 lb. bag of potatoes for $2.49 or any of the clearance baked goods.  A bag of quick oatmeal and a can of coconut milk (Kayin’s rice cooked in coconut milk made an impression) and I was on my way home.

Market and me

Pen & Ink sketch of Kitchener Farmers Market

This pen and ink print signed “Paquette 72” hung on the wall just above some Group of Seven prints in my parents dining room. It was well placed near the table where we celebrated special occasions as the meat business that the Dettweiler family has been associated with for several generations was founded on taking our meat to market and we still continue doing that.

My father remembers his earliest market experiences at the Preston market.  Sales began with the ringing of a bell at, I’m going to say, 6 am.  Seems early, but in that era the first sales would already be lined up for waiting purchasers and with the bell the money could change hands.  Farmer vendors like my grandfather had work to do at home and in the day of early morning markets they may have been back home by 9 am.  If you weren’t an early riser in that day, you did not get to buy the meat and produce brought to market by hard-working farmers.  At St. Catharines market, if you want Dettweiler’s sausage in the 21 century, you can come as late as 11 am – but no later, as at that hour I will already be packing up in order to get on with the work of my Niagara-on-the-Lake deliveries.

My father would make deliveries of meat after the brief market hours, perhaps to customers in the neighbouring town of Hespeler and certainly in the other direction from home to Breslau customers.  When he eventually built his own meat shop, maybe 1/4 mile down the road from the family farm, he called his business “Midway Meat Market”.  This name took advantage of the name of the Breslau telephone exchange.  When you picked up your telephone in those days you didn’t need to know any numbers.  You spoke to the operator and asked for the “Midway” exchange and then asked to be connected to the meat market there.  Presumably, picking up the handset and specifying “Midway Meat Market” was all it took to be connected to my dad in those days.  There you could order a pound of bacon, a nice chuck roast and 2 pounds of pork sausage and my father could arrange to deliver it to you at your home.

If you would like to order some of Mennonite smoked sausage these days you can contact us by emailing “info” followed by the domain name of the website you are presently looking at (which is our family name) and the “.ca” ending of Canadian domains.  We also have a store on Victoria Street, just across the Grand River from Kitchener and the phone number for this Breslau, Ontario location is the exact same one we have had since the day that they discontinued telephone operators for local calls.

Many things have changed over the years, but you can still get quality meat from the Dettweilers which will make your meal times to be special occasions.

Prepared for a cottage vacation

Hammock

 

The above view is a good summary of what I expect of my 10 or so days at the cottage this summer.  Taken from the hammock where I read, read, read, it looks over the water where I swim, swim, swim and when conditions are right – Windy, mais pas TROP venteuse – I set out on my Laser sailboat.

Today, I am all packed, as when I did the wash yesterday I assembled the appropriate clothes directly into my suitcase.  I kept telling myself that this year I will keep my expectations of what I am going to do at the cottage simple – besides the above, we’ll be eating, running or walking a lot (1/2 marathon to prepare for this fall) and after expending all that energy, sleeping so soundly, like only the cottage environment allows me to do.

Other years I may have included non-traditional cottage tasks, which strangely, I never accomplished.  Some of them:  Learning another language, making speakers – an alternative sound system for my truck, doing calling for an August market (this year it is Sept. 10); so many projects / so little time – the cottage is not conducive for THAT!

It is always a pleasure to make the 6-8 hour drive to the cottage.  Because of the anticipation.  Passing familiar places that you just see once a year.  Much of the route is itself cottage country.  Once past Ottawa we’ll be passing lakes on the left and the right, past Round Lake (Camp Mishewah – camp of my youth), through Algonquin Park, and stopping to provision along the way (but not over-doing the food purchases this year).

And arriving – unloading the trunk – it is all going to be in the car trunk this year – but for the canoe paddle which must go in the back seat. It will be such a quick unload; and then we’ll put clothes in a drawer and pull out one of three bathing suits and swim in the lake – just for fun – we’ll leave the laps of exercise up and down the shore for tomorrow.

To throw you off my trail a bit...
To throw you off my trail a bit…

Harold Teaches Steak

These comments about choosing a good steak are a combination of my own experience buying steaks at my local supermarket ever since I’ve been married and the wisdom of my father, Harold, who cut a steak or two in his day.

The first thing my father taught me (I just listened when he spoke) was that the best steak is a Porterhouse.  Now, if you go into your local supermarket or restaurant you are not going to see this name on the label or on the menu as this steak is simply called a T-bone.  That’s all right, let other people buy the T-bones – I’m going to choose the T-bone that is a Porterhouse cut every time.  In the image you’ll see two steaks exactly as I found them cello-packed on their styrofoam tray.  I drew in black line approximately where the one steak ended and the other began.  The steak at the top of the image has it’s rather large bone at the top, while the steak at the bottom of my image has its bone toward the bottom

What is a Porterhouse steak? It is a steak from the hindquarter of the beef, from the loin that has the T-shaped bone but the vertical part of the T is much shorter than the true T-bones and the horizontal part of the T is quite large.  But the best way of identifying is not so much the bone, but the tenderloin.  The vertical part of the T separates the tenderloin portion from the – well, the rest of the steak.  If the T-bone had no tenderloin at all and no bone we’d call it a strip loin – that is the tenderloin has been stripped off – to be sold plus cher as filet mignon.  Going back to identifying the Porterhouse steak among the T-bones.  The Porterhouse has a much higher percentage of tenderloin than the T-bone does.  In my image the steak at the top has its tenderloin on the right while the steak on the bottom has its tenderloin on the left.  I’d estimate that the steak at the top has about 40% tenderloin while the steak at the bottom of the image has about 35% tenderloin (which is a higher percentage than your average T-bone steak).  A sure way of determining which side is the tenderloin side and which is not is that the side that is NOT tenderloin will have some fat on the outside while the tenderloin side will never have fat on the outside.  That fat on the outside makes the non-tenderloin side (a strip loin steak) pretty enjoyable too – I know my dad would never despise some nicely seasoned fat on the outside of a steak or roast and I, well, I am my father’s son in that respect.

The tenderloin part of the steak is the most tender.  You can take your fork and easily pull it apart without needing to cut it with a knife.  When you are placing your Porterhouse on your barbecue – put the tenderloin side away from the heat as it doesn’t need to be cooked as much as the not-tenderloin part of the start.

When choosing your steak try to optimize the amount of tenderloin and then look for fat marbling in the steak – that is where there is a pocket of fat surrounded by lean meat or sometimes a line or streak of fat between the lean.  Fat helps tenderize meat (which is why that round steak needs some marinating as that cut of beef will never have fat marbled through it) and, when barbecuing the fat drops on the hot coal or metal and the smoke produced gives it that barbecued flavour.

You know, recently I’ve become quite dissatisfied with the lack of flavour in the steaks that I am buying at the supermarket.  I don’t believe that they age the beef at all.  A week hanging in a cooler before being cut would help it a lot.  Maybe I need to go on a quest to find a butcher who will sell me steak that tastes like something more than my Montreal steak spice.

I will start my find- an-alternative-to-the-supermarket for steak tonight as that is what is on our menu for this Friday night.

I have MUCH more to pass on about steak that I learned by virtue of being a butcher’s son.  Enough for more blogs in the future, I’m sure.

SupermarketTBones

Garden Stew

stew contents
stew contents – fresh from the market or rescued from the fridge

I was able to finish up work soon after 1pm today, which usually means that I’ll stop somewhere on the way home.  Very near to the sausage plant in Laval is the Marché 440.  I don’t know if it is the only market in Laval but it is an excellent place to buy fruits, vegetables, honey and much more.  Wanting to make it quick – just needed a flat of raspberries while they are in season locally – I transacted for the fruit at the closest vendor, one of the best – but since I had to pay across the aisle where they have an extensive selection of vegetables, I quickly added a cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, carrots, string beans, tomatoes and new potatoes to my bill.  And then I stopped at my favourite supermarket on Avenue du Parc  where I have learned to speedshop. 50 cents of metred parking only buys me 10 minutes. Let’s just say that I didn’t have to use any of my time today in the produce section.

The original idea was to make raspberry jam when I got home, but since neither Carol nor I had had any lunch and I was bringing home some freshly smoked sausage from work, I knew I had all the ingredients on hand for a hearty lunch on a rainy day.  Put the berries on ice and pulled out some cooking pots (des casseroles, comme on dit ici).  I think I have a garden stew recipe posted on my original personal website. Yes, still there at:

http://home.ican.net/~clarkent/ted/porksausagestew.htm Continue reading