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mmm zgodbe: MEAT BUSINESS

What do a showcase full of meat and a playful mix of jazz have in common? Perhaps the fact that they both remind us of the brutality of the world, or perhaps an awareness that every product, even a seemingly improvised one, is based on skill and experience. On the basement level of Bežigrajski dvor at Dunajska 56, surrounded by a lively and varied mix of boutiques and service providers, Marko Butalič plays his own tune in his recently opened Meat Business Shop. The shop offers an excellent range of meats against a background of exquisite music.

"Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself."

Marko Butalič shares a similar experience to Miles Davis, as he has worked in butchery for over three decades despite being only forty years old. While some might say his love for the profession was born in the cradle, the reality is that he had little choice as the only son of a butcher. Marko's initial work at the plant in Metlika was hard and brutal, with a meat production and processing capacity that jumped from an initial 17 to a projected 40 and finally a massive 80 tons of meat. This prompted Marko to seek new approaches that would be sustainable for himself, the animals, and the environment.

As with the jazz that plays in the Meat Business Shop, the key to working with meat seems to be a free spirit and openness to new ideas. Leaders of the Slovenian culinary scene note these as key features of working with Marko. Chef Jorg Zupan, in particular, enjoys working with Marko to produce aged porchettas for Aftr and blood sausages and pečenica sausages for Breg. The chefs of Gostilna Mihovec, Domačija Novak, OPA Resort, and JB Restaurant, who work with Marko regularly, emphasize the importance of using quality meat from the Govc-Vršnik farm in Robanov kot and other trusted suppliers from Styria, Prekmurje, and the outskirts of Ljubljana, as well as Marko's technical know-how.

Meat Business Burgers are available at occasional pop-up events at Du Bop and Prulček bars, and meat lovers can sample a wide range of delicacies at workshops developed by Marko and his best friend, chef Tomaž Bratovž. Marko hopes to have more of these workshops in the future, especially if he succeeds in his plan to enrich his shop with late-afternoon bistro food and drinks, expanding the current selection of natural wines recommended by experts from Kletvica and Dobro vino wine shops.

"To create, you need to be able to change."

Marko believes that embracing change is essential to saving the butchery profession in decline. He has never killed an animal himself and treats every piece of meat with respect. Marko developed a vision around the concept of premium cuts that play a supporting role on the plate. Key steps to a brighter future include raising the quality and level of supervision over the work of butchers and using the meat of older cows more often. Recently, Marko worked with the Dutch-Swiss food designer Carolien Niebling and chef Igor Jagodic to develop the Slovenian sausage of the future, made of buckwheat, mushrooms, and wild garlic, with an algae casing, which was presented at the Biennial of Design within project BIO27.

At the Meat Business Shop, customers can find something to their liking, whether they prefer the comforts of tradition or less conventional harmonies of taste and texture. Customers can listen to the wagging tail of the good-natured giant Ernest as they step inside the shop, laugh at the savoury and unsavoury jokes of his owner, learn new ways to prepare meat or about life in general from the tricks and tips written on the white tiles, try a piece of sausage with ginger, garlic, and honey aged (and invented) at the shop itself, and select a nice cut of meat to enjoy at home.



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MMM stories is a series of online articles introducing unique local shops, small producers, farmers, and restaurants from Ljubljana and the surroundings.

Photos: Suzan Gabrijan



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