Ultimate Steak, Part 1 : The Gunter Brothers Saga

Gunter Bros 1Every 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*

Far Side CowsMy 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.

Gunter 2For 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 3Gunter’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.

6 Comments

  1. Judy August 26, 2014 5:46 pm Reply
    • Shawn August 29, 2014 4:01 am Reply

      Gilmours! Yes! It’s very much like Gunter’s.
      I could do a whole post on how influential Gilmour’s Butcher shop was on me as a kid… First down the street by the video store (was it called Gilmour’s back then?) and now at it’s location over the Zwick’s Island birdge.
      Thanks for reminding me!

  2. Brenda De Castris August 26, 2014 7:57 pm Reply

    Sounds like a great place for meat lovers. I’m wondering if these Gunter Brothers are in my family tree. Several Gunter families left Ontario before WWI and went west. first to Saskatchewan, but have now spread right to the West Coast.

    • Shawn August 29, 2014 4:02 am Reply

      Anything’s possible!
      It’s a great family-owned business, and like you mentioned a mecca for meat-lovers!

  3. lisa mastrangelo August 27, 2014 7:49 pm Reply

    When an animal had a life where it can walk in pastures, breath the fresh air, and feel the sunshine, you can feel better about eating that meat because they had a quality life. We need more farming like this. We would pay more, most likely eat smaller portions because of that but we would be healthier for it!

    • Shawn August 29, 2014 4:05 am Reply

      Very well said Lisa!
      It’s hard to find places and people who will go out of their way to take care of their animals. Price is always a factor, but when you try it… It’s impossible to go back.
      Thanks for the insight!

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