Steak (R)Evolution

A friend of mine (tag yourself if you like, I won’t compromise your confidentiality) recently recommended a film called STEAK (R)EVOLUTION that those of us in North America (at least) can watch on Netflix. It’s a quirky documentary constructed around the premise of finding the world’s best steak. It’s not a life-changing film, suffers from a bit too measured pace at times, as well as the occasional slip into vanity, but it is interesting and presents a picture of quality over quantity, small producers, the importance of humane treatment of livestock to quality, and the difference in beef preferences around the world.

It even has an interview with an equally intoxicated and arrogant Brooklyn (where else?) butcher ranting about the evils of mass production and how we all just better get used to his vision of the future, all while casually tossing back a can of Coors, before informing the viewer that he and his friends all have “college” degrees. But I digress …

It begins with a restaurant that sadly I have yet to visit: Peter Luger Steak House. Luger isn’t known for reasonably healthy portions of lean meat, that’s for sure, but the film does justice to their focus on the quality of the beef and the dry-aging process. Strangely, I don’t recall a mention of Chicago, despite its unique steakhouse culture and the history of the Union Stock Yards.

Butcher Shop in Paris, France

As the film progresses, there’s plenty of flim-flam (cows prefer Mozart), but also a serious treatment of different breeds of cows. One of the breeds they focused on was the Aubrac, a high quality beef cattle originating in France, but now available world-wide, including the US. As it happens, this brought back some fond memories of eating it both raw and cooked at a restaurant in Paris that specializes in the breed: La Maison de L’Aubrac. Video screens showing Aubrac cows out to pasture played in the dining room, inspiring thoughts of whether one of the cows shown on the screen also happened to be on the plate in front of you. That’s how it works, really, though.

Remembering La Maison brought up some other great restaurants I’ve had quality beef at: huge feasts at Carnevino and Craftsteak in Las Vegas, great steaks at Marco Pierre White and Fade Street Social in Dublin, Ireland, and variants of surf and turf from Porter & Rye  and Cail Bruich in Glasgow, Scotland. Even now, though, I couldn’t pick a favorite among them.

I guess I better get that reservation at Peter Luger sorted …

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