Every time we drive through Black Creek, I stare out at the rolling pastures packed with cows and think of Gary Larson’s Far Side comic strip.
You know the one: A field full of cows are standing on two hooves, conversing with obvious intelligence when one yells “Car!” Just as two humans drive by they drop down on all fours and pretend to be witless bovines. When all’s clear they stand back up and get on with their day, the humans never suspect a thing. *chuckles*
My wife and I were those silly humans, bombing into the Comox Valley for another food-related adventure. This time, it’s a self-indulgent little experiment (aren’t they all?) to find the perfect cut of meat for a summer, birthday BBQ.
The Ultimate Steak Dinner! The quality of meat, the size of the cut, amount and type of seasoning, cooking technique and so on… All was taken into careful consideration to produce the quintessentially meat-centric experience! I wanted this to be a special meal, one that would define my family’s conception of a steak dinner thereafter. The kind of experience that makes people go, “Hey could you make it that way again? You know, that one with the sauce and that thing…”
The road to “that way”-level perfection is long and arduous… Well, not actually arduous, but definitely long. It’s taken a couple years to get all my steaks in a row and decide which cut is superior. Then the question became what cooking method, sauce and so on.
The first and most important step was to get the best meat possible and to that end we entreated the services of the Gunter Brothers Meat Co. The Comox Valley’s finest (and closest!) custom meat processing facility. They’re out in Black Creek, deep in the heart of cow country. Just a half hour drive from our house.
For 25 years Gunter’s has been serving the hungry Vancouver Island community’s need for locally-raised beef, pork, venison and whatever else is in demand. I had been to Gunter Bros. many times in the past and had actually taken a tour of the facilities way back in my school days. I’d always been impressed with their work, the quality of their product and the level hospitality behind the counter.
A lot of the meat that they process lived right outside their door… literally! The cows that reminded me of that cartoon were living their short, delicious lives in a wide pasture under the shadow of the Gunter Brothers turnoff sign… If only they could read…
*laughs* Is that too dark?
I know that my growing interest in staring my meals in the face may strike some people (most notably my wife and extended family) as strange and more than a little morbid. But I assure everyone that I’m still the same goofy optimist that I’ve always been… I’m not into torturing animals or sharpening knives in locked rooms.
But, I eat meat… And that means animals die.
It’s been a project of mine recently (a little more on that in a later post) to really get hands-on when it comes to my meal’s last days as a thinking thing. I want to meet my cow, or crab, chicken, or whatever and know that it was given a proper life and end, because so many animals don’t inside the cement confines of the industrial food production system.
So to the slaughterhouse we went. And maybe you should too!
Gunter’s had exactly what we were looking for, from exactly the cow we were looking for, from exactly the farmer down the road that we were hoping for. The kind of luscious, well-marbled pieces of meat that are worthy of saga and song. Ultimate steak awaits!
To find out exactly what constitutes an “ultimate” steak, you’ll have to wait for Part 2 of our epic late-summer BBQ exstravaganza-ganza-ganza-ganza.