– Story by Angela Cowan
|Butcher Geoff Pinch with sausage in a meat cooler at his Four Quarters Meats shop in Sidney. Don Denton photography|
Just across the highway into West Sidney is a hidden gem that is a must-stop for any carnivore with an abiding love of succulent bacon, locally raised ham, smoked sausages or salamis, all made with utmost care in traditional European fashion.
Four Quarters Meats, at 205-2031 Malaview Avenue West, owned and operated by Geoff Pinch, is both a wholesaler and retailer, supplying an array of restaurants, catering companies and specialty shops throughout the Peninsula and the entire Victoria area.
“More and more throughout the industry, people are appreciating the artisanal quality,” says Geoff, and his selection of products certainly reflects that.
The shelves at Four Quarters Meats are varied and oh so tempting. Local pork from Omnivore Acres gets cut into chops, dried sausages, a whole range of specialty cured meats and even a selection of Christmas hams — be sure to get your name down now if you want one for the holidays.
Smoked sausages range from southern chorizo to a kielbasa flavoured with garlic, nutmeg and marjoram, to turkey cranberry with rosemary, and Andouille Cajun sausage with thyme, allspice, garlic and black pepper.
There’s bacon and cottage rolls and smoked beef. Asian duck sausages. Bratwurst and blood pudding sausages. It’s enough to make a carnivore light-headed with delight. Perhaps the spot where Four Quarters really shines, though, is in the selection of dry-cured salamis.
Geoff spent some of his formative years working in a Serbian deli in Vancouver, surrounded by dozens of cultures and languages, where he learned traditional European methods for curing salamis.
Amidst the rest of the already sought-after meat selection, the salamis have found welcoming homes with many of Victoria’s high-end chefs.
“I came from the restaurant world, and there are a lot of great chefs keen on doing these things,” says Geoff. “It’s nice to make them, but it’s also great to have that connection with them. We’re making the products that, if they had the time and space, they would be making.”
|Butcher Geoff Pinch slices ham at his Four Quarters Meats shop in Sidney. Don Denton photography|
He has a passion for taking his time and creating the best product possible, perhaps influenced by seeing small scale and local food producers and butchers from a very young age.
Geoff grew up surrounded by small game and livestock, thanks to a hobby farmer mom and two sisters in 4H.
“We had rabbits, chickens, lambs, the odd pig,” he says. “I remember going to the local butcher, the abattoir. It was just normal to me.”
Now, Geoff works with myriad local farmers, including a number of folks on the smaller islands.
“We do a fair bit of custom cutting and processing,” he says, noting they send back the finished products for the farms to sell.
This February marks five years for the shop, and it’s hit a good balance between having enough supply as a wholesaler and keeping the quality impeccably high.
“It’s hard to be a wholesaler when you’re little,” he says, adding that wholesaling was the primary reason he chose the spot in the more industrial West Sidney. But the shop hit the ground running, and soon had relationships with a number of restaurants and specialty shops throughout Victoria.
“Irish Times has almost been partners with us,” he laughs.
Now, he’s got a staff of three (Brian, Marty and Shawn) as well as his wife Sally, who acts as a “behind-the-scenes partner,” he adds with a smile.
“I’ve been really lucky with the staff I’ve got,” he adds.
As the business has increased, he’s added a new staff member just about every year, and it’s grown into a tight-knit team.
With the holidays (and all their glorious celebration of food) just around the corner, the conversation turns to favourites in store. Though Four Quarters Meats supplies quite a few spots nearby – The Farmer’s Daughter, 10 Acres Farm, The Roost, The Butchart Gardens — for the best selection this side of the Root Cellar, the shop on Malaview is the best place to go. It has some great grab-and-go options if you’ve got family and friends coming over for the holidays. (And honestly, just get a box for yourself even if you don’t plan on company. You won’t regret it.)
|List of products for sale in Butcher Geoff Pinch’s Four Quarters Meats shop in Sidney. Don Denton photography|
The breakfast box has all the morning classics: bacon, sausages, ham. Everything ready to go for a hearty morning. Break out your frying pan and try not to finish it all off in one sitting. For later in the day, the charcuterie box has a variety of pre-sliced cured meats, salamis and smoked sausages.
“It’ll have all your entertaining cheese and cracker type things,” says Geoff.
Asked what he personally recommends, and he offers up three suggestions: the Spanish dried chorizo, the chicken liver pate, and the Lemon Drop salami, flavoured with lemon zest, sweet white wine and fennel seed. And if you’ve got something special in mind, give the shop a call at 250.508.7654. The team regularly does custom orders. Retail hours are Wednesday and Thursday 10 am to 4 pm, and Friday and Saturday 10 am to 6 pm.
Check out the shop here.