The whole beast

I went to the brand-new Cherry St. T&T’s today. It does seem like it should have a place in our grocery routine, though I’m still working out what it would be. TMQ and I cook from a set of ideas that are mostly English and Italian, while T&T as far as I can tell is assuming a Cantonese kitchen.

My point of comparison is the Leslieville Loblaws, as our sort of comprehensive regional grocery store:

– Their seafood counter is far better than Loblaws, though the dead catfish floating in the tank didn’t inspire confidence (in fairness, I’ve seen the same kind of thing in the lobster tank in Loblaws). It’s about as good as the one at the Ancaster Fortino’s, where watching the seething eel tank is a Christmas treat.

– Their butcher counter is quite a lot better. Loblaws never seems to have any braising cuts, let alone the one I actually want in any given case. The last time I braised a cut of beef, I had to go all the way to these people to buy it. I’m happy to support an old-fashioned butcher, but it’s miles out of the way.

Anyway, T&T has:

– fresh goose. Loblaws never has goose, though I’m sure you could order it, and they certainly never have fresh duck.
– whole chickens graded by age, heads still attached. Is the idea that the younger ones are for roasting, and the older for stewing? I assume so.

I do see the thrifty logic of including the head to add to broth, but the one time I made broth with a chicken head, it kept floating to the surface and eyeing me impassively, which was a bit creepy. That probably doesn’t reflect on anything except my own lack of honesty as a carnivore, but there you are. The broth was fine.
– fresh duck hearts and tongues (we have an Italian recipe that calls for duck hearts somewhere; I’d have to look for it. At the time, I didn’t think we could source them.)

I guess where this is going is pointing out the odd paradox that T&T is the better option for Western-style meat preparation that goes beyond a few familiar North American ideas, because of their willingness to butcher and offer the whole animal in any given case.