Sanagan's Meat Locker
Sanagan's Meat Locker on Baldwin Street might be easy to miss from under the red Max & Son-branded awning, but one should not overlook this new kid on the Kensington block.
I found Sanagan's, my new butcher, through a more unconventional route: Twitter. Toronto's network of foodies like to tweet, and it's the best place to find the latest Toronto food news (like what Jamie is serving for lunch at Gilead Cafe; when tickets for the Daily Bread Food Bank's annual fundraiser, "HohoTO", are on sale; and what Corey Mintz made for supper last night). So when someone mentioned something about the deliciousness that is Sanagan's cheeseburger sausages, I just had to know what all the fuss was about.
Peter Sanagan, a former instructor and alumni of George Brown College, has had some big shoes to fill, what with the former Max & Son having been a Kensington staple for over 50 years. And fill them, he has. In the few short weeks they have been open, Sanagan's has crafted out an identity based on their commitment to supply meat products from small Ontario farms. And through the use of social networking mediums like Twitter and Facebook, they've found an audience that is on a quest for locally-sourced food and meat.
Toronto is in the prime of the local food movement. With community organizations like The Stop and Slow Food Toronto demanding attention, homegrown celebrity chefs heavily pushing the local agenda, and books like "The Edible City - Toronto's Food from Farm to Fork" being launched at the Gladstone, urbanites are catching on.
For someone new to the game, it can be tough; there are so many buzzwords floating around - organic, local, sustainable, grain-feed, grass-fed, free-range. It's hard to know what to look for. People want solutions, and Sanagan's offers the best way to start: knowing where your food comes from.
On a cold and windy Friday affternoon at Sanagan's, business is bustling. Everyone seems to have skipped off work early and is hanging out in Kensington, catching the last rays of sunlight. I slip into the clean and brightly-lit store and am greeted with an even brighter smile. As I wait my turn, I consider my meals for the week ahead: a fresh batch of chicken stock is definitely needed for a week's worth of risotto and soup-concocting, but I'm looking for something a little heartier for tonight's dinner guest.
I ask for a chicken carcass or two ($1.50/lb), and Derek, Sanagan's right-hand man, offers to cut it up into pieces for me. We chat about osso bucco, how one ought to utilize cow trotter in soup, and when I can get some of those aforementioned cheeseburger sausages.
Service is efficient, the advice is knowledgeable, and the cooking tips are creative. Ten minutes later, Derek has sold me on a couple pounds of stewing beef ($3.99/lb), which I have decided is destined to be slow-cooked with a bottle of dark St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout and a dozen fingerling potatoes. When I ask, I am told that my beef is from a farm in Meaford, Ontario, within 250 kilometres from Toronto.
I hit the busy Baldwin Street minutes later, my tote bag laden with purchases; feeling inspired to cook and satisfied to have done my duty as a locavore for the day.
Sanagan's Meat Locker is open Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 7 pm, on Sunday from 12 pm - 5 pm. Follow them on Twitter @Sanagans.