Friday, December 30, 2011

For Beef Lovers: Bryan's Fine Foods, Corte Madera, California (NO, YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO THERE!)

Bryan’s Fine Foods ( is a wonderful location to shop on line for products that are shipped overnight, to any location in the continental USA. For my Canadian readers, if you are fortunate to rent or own a residence in the United States for a time, and love to cook, Bryan’s is for you!!

Here, you will find, what I believe are among the "best of their kind" meat products available anywhere – as in anywhereBryan is extremely passionate and knowledgeable about every item offered. He is serious to the point of compulsion. I will try to describe some of the products that he offers, to show you what I mean. The products I have selected below to describe, are selected principally from the products I typically order.

In regards to shipping, at the end of each shipping day, they individually package and freeze their products because, as they say, when they ship, “they are at the peak of perfection and trying to keep them fresh for a day or two will add nothing to them. Freezing on the other hand will not hurt them but rather stop them in time when they are perfect. It allows us the ability to manage inventory and be able to ship multiple units on the spur of the moment.” From my perspective, I have not found the freezing of their product detrimental.

Mid-western prime and also California small producer’s prime beef ( "California Reserve"), all dry aged for a minimum of 30 and up to 50 days, depending on the cuts. Each California Reserve prime piece (but not the mid western prime) are eyeballed and hand selected to be the best of what it should be. The mid-western prime is not because Bryan is not at those plants to eyeball and hand select the items he buys. But, he does review everything that he receives and downgrades anything the he feels is not exactly prime grade.

Bryan supplies Northern California raised lamb. dry aged anywhere from 7 to 20 days, depending on the cut. Now, NOONE in Toronto or vicinity, to my knowledge, dry ages lamb, and trust me, this process separates good flavour to great, from extraordinary! I have discussed dry aging lamb with my 2 principal butchers, but neither one has done this, they had not considered it and it seems a good deal of pushing would be required to get them to do this except on a personal basis.

And, FOR YOU TRUE BEEF LOVERS,  Bryan supplies the “deckle” (my very favourite cut of beef and the one I personally request to present large on all of the rib steaks that I order from my Toronto butchers). Bryan butchers and ties it in the shape of a long roll (WOW.....a great big piece for deckle lovers!!), which he refers to as “mid-western rib cap” . This little known cut will amaze you for it’s wonderful strong beefy flavour, juicyness and tender texture and for me, must be cooked medium rare to rare (warm centre). This is a very unique piece of meat, and very difficult to obtain on it's own. It is not available in your butchers meat counter. Even a special request from your butcher might elicit a raised brow. This cut contains the absolute maximum amount of flavor that will physically fit into a piece of steak! The rib cap is not a very common cut, and sometimes difficult to explain. Think of prime rib steak and picture how a steak cut from the upper end of the rib will have two distinct sections, an inner one and an outer (crescent-shaped) one. The outer section many times will also be a slightly darker color than the inside as well as have a more intense flavor. This outer section on the rib eye is a slice of rib cap.

To produce this cut Bryan’s starts with their Midwest beef, dry ages it and then removes the entire cap by following the natural seams of the rib. Once removed, you have a piece that looks very much like a flank steak in width, length and thickness. Now while it would be perfectly fine to cook it in this form; to improve the presentation when plated, they roll the cap widthwise and tie it to create what resembles in form a center cut of filet mignon.  

I also love his California boneless, prime short ribs, which make for a very tasty, juicy, tender, steak!

NOW, this next section if for real burger lovers and in this, Bryan’s Fine Foods may be unique!! His web site features the “burger builder” (direct link: making available 26 possible ingredients from which you can select and build your own custom burger. My personal selection is:  25% usda prime hanger steak; 25% usda prime skirt teak; 25% usda prime short ribs; 25% dry aged steak ends. But, look at the available ingredients from which you van build your burger (minimum order 4 pounds, each pound separately shrink wrapped):  choice chuck, prime chuck, wagyu chuck,  prime sirloin, prime top round, choice short ribs, choice tri-tip,, prime skirt steak, prime hanger steak, punta de anca ( an argentine cut, made from a piece sometimes referred to as the coulotte, part of the top sirloin near the area from which the chateaubriand is produced Bryan's marinates this cut in chimichurri sauce for 3 days); prime short ribs, wagyu short ribs; prime brisket; choice filet tail; prime filet tail; pork should; mild Italian sausage; applewood bacon; foie gras blend; beef suet blend; prime brisket fat blend; prime beef cap fat blend; hot Italian sausage blend; wagyu fat blend; dry aged steak ends. WHEEEEEWWW!! TOUGH CHOICE!!

Bryan's also offers very good pork and chicken, but for me, it is the beef and lamb that is truly worth shipping across the USA to my short term vacation residence in Florida. I rarely speak about producers but this one deserves accolades.

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