Ben’s Meat & Deli – Edmonton, Alberta

Ben’s Meat & Deli
15726 Stony Plain Rd.

Ben’s Meat & Deli is yet another one of those places I’ve been meaning to bring the camera for some time. Part deli part store, this Dutch establishment is proud of it’s heritage and offers both fantastic goods and service. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve been reading quite a bit about this store from The Celiac Husband as of late.

With very limited store front parking (2 cars?), I was surprised to see a a large lineup when I walked in. This didn’t stop the  staff from a warm welcome though, and after explaining that I was going to have a quick peek around, they let me know to holler if I had any questions.

There is definitely more than just meat in this store. From candy to crackers. Smoked cheese to smoked pig ears. And don’t forget, a freezer of gluten free offerings courtesy of The Celiac Husband and the GF Patisserie in Cochrane. There is also a selection of orange items, in case you were wondering who they would cheer for in Vancouver.

Stepping back up to the deli counter, I discovered everything from lamb to chicken to aged beef to bison and enough tubes of meat to challenge the Italian Centre. After sampling more meat than I can remember, including things like Macaroni and Cheese Loaf, Liver Loaf, Dutch Salami, I was read to order. As my order was being prepared, the staff informed me, I was like an old European man. Ha! Once I stopped laughing, I donned my had and was out the door and on my way home.

Remember, pictures don’t lie kids. Which means I was home with 200 grams each of Blood & Tongue (bottom left) Head Cheese (bottom right) and Smoked Horse Meat (top). How about a closer look of these paper thin slices of awesomeness.

Blood & Tongue

Head Cheese

Smoked Horse Meat

After locking myself in a room and indulging in these culinary delights all by myself, I couldn’t decide on a winer. The structure of the Head Cheese was just like it should be, but the overall flavour was too basic for me. Think bologna. There is nothing wrong with that of course, I just think this would be fantastic for lunch meat. The Blood & Tongue was really good and tied with the Smoked Horse Meat for my favourite. Quite different from each other of course, the horse was extremely salty while the blood & tongue had a greasier sausage feel.  After my meat session, my hands and lips looked like I was sucking on Vaseline jar. But boy was it a tasty jar!

I sat two of the homesteaders down for a blind taste test (they wouldn’t touch the items if I had told them), the responses were good with the horse being the least favourite (too salty). After explaining what they just ate, and discussing it the next day, it seems that the meat was no longer good. Just goes to show you how your eyes (reading the label/seeing the meat) really screw with your stomach and head.

Sure you can get your turkey breast and smoked ham at Ben’s, and maybe you should if you live near by, but why not try something different next time you are around. From the service to the products, I know I’ll be back for steaks in the summer…and maybe some more of that tongue!

14 thoughts on “Ben’s Meat & Deli – Edmonton, Alberta

  1. Great article. I didn’t know he had horse meat… just wasn’t looking, I guess. Or, is it something he rarely carries? What kind of horse? Was it risen for its meat? How old was it? What other kinds of horse meat does he carry… This is such an unusual find, that I have to go and ask Ben these questions, unless you can tell me. Horse meat usually isn’t so tasty, I had understood… and because of man’s affinity with horses in the west, it is unusual to find it for human consumption. You’ve sparked my curiousity, for sure!

    • My understanding is that the smoked horse meat is a regular item. I don’t know where they get the meat, but know that horse meat is available all over Canada (including a farmer in southern Alberta). From horse sashimi (basashi) in Vancouver to horse tartare in Quebec.

      Eating horse meat and steaks in Central America would have me believing quite the contrary from your thoughts, as it was always tender and delicious. I know a lot of stigma is involved here in the west, but with a better health record (free of things like tuberculosis and tapeworms, and thus safer than beef to eat raw) its a wonder why more people don’t eat it.

  2. Cool post.
    Thank you for mentioning my Blog.

    Coincidentally I am up there tomorrow to stock up Ben’s freezer. And then hit the giftshow at Northlands.

  3. Chris, are you sure you aren’t an old European man? Because those meat choices are precisely what my Opa would have ordered!

    I’m with A Canadian Foodie, I was surprised at the horse meat option… but I’m now curious and might have to make it out there. I’ve passed by Ben’s Meat and Deli, but never made it in… perhaps now’s the time! (Or perhaps I’ll wait until all that Orange is out of there.)

  4. So funny! I used to work around the corner from Ben’s! I’m so surprised you didn’t mention their killer sandwich deal. Okay, more like a bun with cold cuts on it – but still! At $3.50 (when I was buying them), you can’t buy a fresher, cheaper, more delicious lunch. And the chocolates….oh the chocolates. Next time you’re there, pick up a cold cut bun and make sure they put hot mustard on it! And grab a roll of Drost white chocolates. I seriously lived off of that lunch for about a year! Good times.

  5. I will find out about the horsie… Hey, Chris, I know other cultures relish horsemeat, and as a multicultural nation, that we would be selling it somewhere. But, I know of no horsemeat farmers in this province. None is sold at any of the Farmer’s Markets around here, and I think I have heard it is tough meat over the years because when it was eaten, “in the good old days”, it was out of necessity, and the horse was usually old. And I would be the last person to criticize anyone for eating anything (almost), but am always curious. Always! 🙂

  6. A friend of mine (Famous Bruno) picks up fresh horse meat at the YYC Airport, just before the load goes over to Europe. He has a deal with the producer.

    Now Valerie, I had horse meat twice at his house, once Sashimi, once steak, though a bit mentally challenging to eat, the flavor was excellent and so was the quality.

  7. DId I ever find out a bunch after my horsie research! Chris ignited this great learning experience for me… did you now that the last American Horse Meat Slaughter house closed in 2007 and that all American Horse meat is sent to Canada? And that we had 2 horse meat packing plants in Alberta (the only province to have 2): one in Fort McMurray and one in Lacombe. That the safe and humane transportation of live horses to the Canadian slaughter houses is under fire as not following Canadian guidelines, and that Canada (according to one article) is one of the top horsemeat eating countries. I wasn’t asking any questions to be derogatory. I was so surprised, and still really want to know who the horse farmers are, what kinds of horses they raise for meat, and what kinds of horses make the best meat. Honestly, I would have no aversion to eat horse meat raised for meat.
    H. Peter – next time Famous Bruno has horse sashimi, invite me over! 🙂

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  9. Actually, live American horses are sent here for slaughter… it’s not their meat that is sent here. They are made up of every type of horse available… carriage, race, lesson, Amish, pleasure, hunter/jumpers, riding ranches, PMU, any and all horses are being slaughtered for human consumption and the same goes for the type of Canadian horses being killed. Approx 1% of horses in Canada are purpose bred for meat, with a vast majority of those being shipped live to Japan, where they are slaughtered and the meat eaten raw. The horsemeat in this deli is probably a former recreational horse, which by the way, does not require production records like cattle, pork, etc. There are 4 slaughter houses still open in Canada, 2 in Quebec, 2 in Alberta. Ontario had a fire and I haven’t heard if they’re slaughtering horses again or not. Saskatchewan was shut down for either food safety violations or financial reasons.. maybe a bit of both. A think there may also be a small one in BC. Go to the website for more info.

  10. And we’re not one of the top horsemeat eating countries. We’re one of the top horsemeat EXPORTING countries. We export the majority of the meat to the EU…. Italy, France, Belgium, etc.

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