I love a good chunk of steak or a nice thick, plump and juicy burger. I hardly eat meat, but when I do, I like to have only either prime-grade or a top-tier of choice beef from the US, or a thick cut of the superior, fully marbled Japanese Kobe or Matsusaka beef.
There has been a steady influx of excellent beef into our country. But a problem has cropped up. Competition has become nasty. Many establishments claim to have the most superior beef just to attract business.
There are two popular and overused words to attract steak lovers: Angus and Kobe. But as soon as you bite into that steak, you know you’ve been had.
Angus and Kobe are varieties of cattle. There are various grades in each, from good to superior. So, watch out.
When I was a student at Cornell, the agriculture school grew its own prime-grade beef. This was in turn offered in the most sosyal restaurant on campus, a dining place called What’s Your Beef?
The place served the most outstanding roast prime rib with Yorkshire pudding. Everytime I had some extra dollars, I would dine there.
From my exposure to all fine prime rib dinners since then, I must say now the place was one of the best. Its beef was thick, juicy, tender and most delicious just with au jus.
I also remember a friend who got a gift of imported boneless Japanese Prime Kobe. It was a whole prime rib. The meat in that cut looked almost all white with the high marbling content.
I remember slicing a chunk, searing both sides to a medium without any seasoning and taking a bite. Even without the salt, it was crazy delicious with all the flavors supplied by the marbling. (Marbling is the white fat between the red meat. This is what gives beef its flavor. The more of this, the higher the grade.)
Out of that chunk, my friend’s waiter also took a cut, ground it and made it into hamburger. Aray!
American food, wine fest
Last week, I was blessed to be invited to a steak lunch. It was a certified Angus beef lunch.
Having been burned from those overused words Angus and Kobe, I wasn’t really expecting much. You may have the best steaks, but cooking it properly is still another aspect. They should be cooked with precision.
We started off with a thick, rich and creamy cup of New England clam chowder. It was made very well. With an overgrating of fresh pepper, it was a nice start to awaken the palate for the coming steak. It tasted even better with chilled Chardonnay.
We were given hot plates and made to go to a carving table. There before us were two whole slabs of certified Angus beef tenderloin and striploin, done medium.
I got a slice of both with a gentle request to the carver for a thicker slice of the Striploin or the New York cut steak.
I noticed the striploin was roasted to perfection. On our table were sidings of mashed potato, sauteed mushrooms, French beans, creamed spinach and broccoli au gratin.
Also on the side were three sauces: Bearnaise, Charon or tomato-based béarnaise, and Green Peppercorn.
The tenderloin brought me back to the days of Au Bon Vivant when our French chefs would make what to me was the best-tasting béarnaise sauce.
The tenderloin béarnaise combination that day was super sarap. You could taste the superior butter and vinegar-laced tarragon in that sauce.
I also sampled the Charon sauce which I thought was also good (but I preferred the first sauce). The Peppercorn sauce was also divine. With the New York cut, I wanted to savor the pure taste of beef so I just salted a slice a bit. Too salty. The rub was perfect even without the seasoning. I could not believe there existed this quality of meat.
I also learned that in my host’s kitchen hides a low-key French chef who makes all these incredible sauces. I was so stuffed, but being the glutton that I am, I ordered another slice of the tenderloin with the béarnaise sauce. Incredible!
I sampled all the sidings but the ones that stayed on my warm plate were the creamed spinach and the mashed potatoes.
With both steaks, we had an exceptional glass of Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon. What a perfect combination.
This was one of the best steak meals I have had in Manila. It’s the real certified superior Angus. And, as MacArthur says, “I shall return.” I will go back for that attractive burger on the menu.
Check out the All-American Food and Wine Fest at the Oakroom of the Oakwood Hotel, 17 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City until July 26. Call 9107888.