Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Artisan Steak Tasting Goes to Tampa!

Okay, meat lovers and sustainability advocates, it's time to change the world.

After three successful steak tastings in the San Francisco area this summer, we're taking The Oliver Ranch Company's Artisan Beef Institute(r) "Provenance of Beef(tm)" program on the road.

First stop was Tampa, Florida, where Jaden Hair aka SteamyKitchen helped gather fellow food writers and enthusiasts for a tasting of 6 different styles of natural or organic artisan beef. Read her hilarious and insightful write up, also part of 24/24/24 blog series. (That's her photo, too, she's amazing.)

Other than the delicious beef, the big hit of the evening was our tasting guide. Host a steak tasting in your home and you'll soon find that we just don't have a lot of words to describe a steak. Beefy, meaty, juicy, tender, and maybe gamy come to mind but not much else.

Also, your beefy might be my gamy, which can be very confusing.

So the guide is meant to help you evaluate which style of beef you like best -- which ranch or combination of breed, growing region, diet, and aging technique appeals most to your taste buds and why.

While we're not quite at the Robert Parker or wine wheel stage, nor do we want beef to be as complicated as wine, we'd love to share our tasting guide. Just email me carrie [at] oliverranch [dot] com.

We'll also send you the tasting guide with any order from our main marketplace, The Oliver Ranch Company (

How will this change the world?

Truth is, simple labels such as grass-fed or grain-fed or for that matter USDA Select, Choice, or Prime don't come close to telling you what the beef will taste like or how tender it will be, let alone whether it will suit your personal palate.

While marbling is important, flavor and texture can also vary considerably by breed, growing region, diet, age of cattle, the particular husbandry protocols of the rancher or lot operator, low stress handling, and the aging technique (if any) used by the butcher.

The industry doesn't want us to know all this stuff matters because they want to keep things simple for themselves.

But if YOU know it and YOU find it important to know what style of beef is on your plate and who raised it and how, then we can collectively support ranchers or processors with best practices.

We get cleaner, more flavorful, even personalized meat. Ranchers can stay on the land. Workers can have safer jobs. The land can get healthier.

It's a win-win-win no matter how you look at it.

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