Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

For the Love of Steak?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

For the Love of Steak?

Article excerpt

>"cauliflower mush like something Heinz might bottle for babies. Around them were dots of more mush, in this case "grilled vegetable tartare" (does this mean raw or grilled? - no, it means mushy) on the plate. Another dying pea sprig was cast on top.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to cheer up my scallops with a small glass of something new: a Pinot Grigio/Riesling concoction from Brazil. It cost PS5.60 and tasted of metal and lime. It was replaced by more Malbec.

Then to risotto, which w a s described as "spring onion, asparagus and pea, topped with a deep-fried poached egg and grilled vegetable tartare (again)". They forgot the vegetable gloop, and also the spring onion (unless these were the tiny dark green dust particles I spied amongst the peas). They'd added one asparagus spear, chopped into small pieces. And there on top, a battered egg. The idea, of course, is that the egg stays runny until you cut into it, then it flows lusciously all over the risotto, which otherwise only tastes of rice and pea, for it was made with flavourless stock. I made an incision and nothing happened. The egg was hard-fried.

But then to the raison d'etre for our trip: fillet steak.

The meat was cooked beyond the medium rare I'd ordered, and tasted of iron. It was my own fault: I should have read the menu properly. Thirty-day aged, it said in big letters. But the small print revealed: "dry and wet aged".

I apologise to those who know this, but there's a huge difference between 'dry' and 'wet' ageing. Hung properly, a beef carcass loses a pound of moisture a day, while the bacteria in the air helps the meat's enzymes break down the muscle to create tender, succulent steak. As the water evaporates, the flavour gets more intense, until, by about 35 days, a good fillet steak should be dark purple in colour, soft as butter, and almost cheesy in scent. This makes it expensive, of course, for you buy meat by the pound, and after a month of dry ageing a steak will have lost a third of its weight, though gained immeasurably in flavour.

Miller& Carter hang their carcasses for only one week, scarcely long enough to get over the shock, then they butcher and pack them into vacuum-sealed bags. …

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