Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Steak Tasting of Steak Tastings

What made this purveyors steak tasting so exceptional was that some of Toronto's finest beef purveyors were primed well in advance, to not only select the best beef for this event, but to dry age the beef truly well. We had our serious amateurs (there were 5) and our serious experts, selected from the "Beef Boys" such as myself, the ever witty food and resto writer, Jacob Richler and Nota Bene chef David Lee, a chef whom I consider one of the most perceptive and organized of his profession, a person with a most highly discriminating palate.

For this tasting, we selected 3 purveyors of the finest premium beef in the GTA, Cumbrae's Meats, Olliffe's and Mcewan foods. Rib steaks were ordered, all cut near the shoulder to incorporate the best section of the deckle. Olliffe's supplied us with angus cross, grass fed, prime beef from PEI and Ontario angus prime; Mcewan Foods supplied us with Australian wagyu, U.S. prime and Canadian angus prime; Cumbrae's supplied us with their own angus prime and their own wagyu angus cross. All steaks were professionally cooked to perfection by chef Lee on a big green egg BBQ. All beef was finished dry aged. Beef sides that were delivered shrink wrapped and initially wet aged, were finished dry aged no less than 4 weeks. All other beef was dry aged right from the start.

This tasting was a double blind assessment for all except myself. All wrappings for each steak were plain with no markings and were delivered in plain white plastic bags. The chef had no prior knowledge of any steak and the tasters had no prior knowledge of any steak. No one knew what companies supplied the steaks nor the varieties of steaks supplied. Noone knew what beef breeds were selected, the time for aging or the style of aging. 

Olliffe's angus cross from PEI (PEI blue ribbon), wet aged 5 weeks then dry aged 4 weeks.

Olliffe's Middlesex County, Ontario raised, angus, dry aged 9 weeks.

Cumbrae's Ontario raised, angus prime, dry aged 8 weeks.

Mcewans's U.S. prime, dry aged 9 weeks. This is the beef that Mark Mcewan serves at his restaurant, North 44. A good looking rib steak.

Cumbae's own Ontario raised wagyu angus cross, dry aged 9 weeks.

Mcewan's Australian wagyu, shipped wet (shrink wrapped) then dry aged, a total aging of "14" weeks (!!). The marbling of this steak presented beautifully. It was also a perfect cut.

Mcewan's Ontario raised, angus "prime", dry aged 9 weeks.

The cooked steaks.

Chef Lee cutting and portioning the steaks.

Flight #1, 4 test pieces, placed like the hours of the clock at 12;3;6;and 9. Steaks are rated (poor to great: 1 to 10) in 3 major categories: taste; texture and juiciness.

The cumulative scores for taste texture and juiciness were added together. The top 3 winners were: 1ST: MCEWAN AUST WAGYU SCORE 214.5; 2ND: CUMBRAE'S WAGYU SCORE 210; 3RD: CUMBRAE'S ONT PRIME, SCORE 200.5. The winning steak (highest score) for TASTE was Cumbrae's Ontario raised wagyu.

It seems that superb marbling (the intramuscular fat between the muscle fibers) and the long dry aging adds complexity to the flavour dimensions of the beef and fat. 

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