South African Meat Shop, CalgaryMy cousin-in-law Ralph, who was born in Mozambique, had mentioned a South African meat shop to us a while ago. We finally got a chance to check it out a few weeks ago.

A family-run venture in a Kensington strip mall, SA Meat Shops is a tidy place that sells a mix of frozen and fresh meats, including signature items such as biltong (air-dried beef jerky), boerewors (farmer’s sausage), and droë wors (air-dried sausage sticks). There’s also a small selection of South African groceries.

If you’re a jerky fan, the biltong is definitely worth trying. Made from AAA Alberta beef, the biltong has a delicious flavouring from “secret herbs and spices,” most likely coriander, black pepper, vinegar, and ground chili peppers.

I can’t remember exactly how much it was but we got four long sticks for about $7. Not as cheap as the gas station jerky but can you say that stuff has no MSG, sodium nitrate, or artificial preservatives? Nope! SA’s version can.

SA has a fantastic, and reasonably priced, selection of fresh Alberta lamb cuts (including shanks, racks, legs and shoulder chops) that they receive fresh from a farm every Thursday. We got a butterflied leg of lamb, already marinated and ready to throw onto the barbecue, for about $18. It was fantastic.

South African beef samosaI want to go back to try a chicken flattie, which as you can guess is a flattened chicken (bones still in), usually marinated in peri-peri sauce, for the grill. SA’s chickens are grain-fed, and free of hormones and steroids.

SA also sells homemade beef samosas, influenced by South Africa’s East Indian population, which we loved. The pastry dough isn’t as “puffy” as Indian samosas; SA’s is more like a flat wonton wrapper. The filling is almost all beef with hints of spices (allspice?) I don’t normally taste in a traditional Indian samosa. You can cook them in a frying pan, in the oven, or on the barbecue.

SA also sells meat pies and does catering.

SA Meat Shops, 106-2120 Kensington Rd. NW, Calgary, (403) 270-0739. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.