By Kylie Meyermann
Six months ago I moved into my new apartment in Old Town Toronto, with the communal words of wisdom from my friends, “You must find the famous peameal bacon on a bun.” It has now been six months, but I finally trekked my way through the winter snow on a solo mission to locate and devour this true Toronto treasure.
Once at the St. Lawrence Market, I was directed to find the Carousel Bakery. Even amongst the 120 other merchants and store fronts, Carousel Bakery is hard to miss. Located on the top floor of the market, Carousel Bakery is definitely the brightest and cheeriest of storefronts, decorated with a pinstriped canopy and miniature sleigh-pulling horses. The store’s menus and sinage are very gimmicky, with much emphasis on Canadian stereotypes (and many an exclamation point). This is not a bad thing.
I arrived at Carousel Bakery around 11 am on a Thursday and was shocked to discover that a lunch line of several people had already formed. While the peameal bacon is the bakery’s speciality, Carousel also offers an assortment of classic Italian sandwiches like veal parmigiana and eggplant focaccia – each for under $10. I noticed that every one of the customers queuing before me had ordered the famous peameal, so I followed suit.
It takes an orchestrated staff of five people to operate the Carousel. The bakery has an open concept kitchen that allows customers to watch their order sizzle on the grill and then be dumped into the centre of a fresh bun. Owner and day manager, Robert Biancolin was working the service bar and he happily indulged me with the history of his family-owned bakery. For over 35 years, the Biancolin family has been serving locally sourced peameal bacon at the same location in the St. Lawrence Market.
Three minutes after I handed my $7.50 to the friendly cashier, I was given an individual-sized carton of chocolate milk and six succulent strips of peameal bacon, piled high on a freshly baked kaiser.
The strips of peameal marinate and are seasoned before being thrown onto the grill. They are then served on a bun without condiments. Lined up, one by one on the service bar, are the 12 condiment options. Hot peppers, horseradish, Dijon, ketchup and mustard, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, mayonnaise, honey mustard, chilli flakes, and Amazing Maple. Biancolin tells me that the most popular sauce is Dijon. I decide to be adventurous and chose Amazing Maple, while also applying a few squirts of Dijon.
The sandwich is delicious. The peameal is salty and chewy without being tough. The slices of bacon are large and each slice covers the entirety of the bun, which I presumed would make the sandwich difficult to eat. However, the peameal is tender and rips apart easily with each bite. The bun itself is soft and is delightfully unforgettable. It serves as a pocket to hold the delicious meat.
The Amazing Maple was a sweet and gooey sauce that I thought added a nice texture to the sandwich. The combination of sweet and salty really hit it off. For hot sauce lovers, the Dijon stung my nostrils and I did shed a tear while mowing down.
My only complaint would have to be that the peameal was a tad too salty for my preference. For many people, my slight upset may be their blessing in disguise. Rated the best peameal bacon in the world with Celebrity Chefs Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay returning for seconds, my salt levels must be under-developed. For under $10, this lunch is a steal!