The steaks have been raised

Striving for innovation in all their products, food and household product importers Island Supply recently hosted a unique tasting at the Lighthouse for restaurant professionals. Under the microscope was a variety of beef cuts from Certified Hereford beef importers, Bush Brothers Provisions Co. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull was invited along to sample the new offering and reports.

While most of us are well acquainted with Certified Angus beef, a name synonymous with high-end, top quality beef, perhaps few have heard of the latest phenomenon to hit high-end restaurants State-side – Certified Hereford beef.

The meat is a result of the efforts of The American Hereford Association, a group of 5,000 ranchers who have kept the Hereford breed pure since 1881, rearing corn-fed Hereford and Hereford-British cross-bred cattle that produce tender, juicy and full-flavoured meat.

Bush Brothers Provision Company, based in South Florida, has linked with Island Supply in Cayman to provide restaurateurs across the island with custom-cuts of CHB.
Doug Bush, who works in at his family’s company says, “CHB is really for those who enjoy an old-school style of beef. Every steak we cut is cut to order and we think the flavour surpasses anything else.”

Bill Jordan, who works at the company in food service sales says that although Certified Angus beef is a great product, it has become far to commercialised and something of a generic commodity, losing its caché as something special. CHB fills the void left by CAB.  The secret to this particular breeds’ fantastic flavour is in the size of the animals, as only steers and heffers under 30 months of age are used and they are fed on a Mid-Western corn i.e. that is vegetarian, producing, according to Bill, “a more consistent product in the dining room.”

Four years ago, to confirm the quality of the meat, the 5,000 ranch members of The American Hereford Association launched the Hereford verified programme to identify and secure the genetics within the Hereford breed and also to validate the source, age and quality of the cattle.  Bill states that CHB is actually not a new product to American restaurants as the cattle has been reared for more than 150 years and was immensely popular in the 20th Century and was generally accepted as the gold standard for beef. Yet over time other breeds were allowed to muscle in on CHB; however he says the time honoured programmes furthered by the American Hereford Association have produced beef of such high quality which outshines other inferior breeds.

On hand at the Lighthouse tasting was an interesting selection of cuts that covered the spectrum of tastes and palates, all produced under the expert care of Chef Remy.

The 24oz Porterhouse Steak was a flavour-filled hit with the men in the tasting, a good reflection of how that particular cut is received in restaurants, according to Doug, while the 8oz tenderloin was a more delicately flavoured, leaner meat that apparently was a favourite with female diners. Perhaps it was Chef Remy’s expert touch, or perhaps it was simply the great cut (but most likely a combination of the two) but my money was on the short ribs which has been marinated in all sorts of lovely flavours and slow-cooked to perfection. I also really enjoyed the unusual dry aged Porterhouse, the aging process (taking between four to five weeks) producing a satisfying crust on the outside and a deeply enhanced meat flavour within.

The new meat was well-received by restauranteurs on the island. Keith Griffin, owner of Bacchus says, “I thought the beef was excellent quality, full of flavour and very tender. I have used a couple of items on the menu as specials since the seminar (20oz cowboy rib steak and the bone-on tenderloin) and have received very good feedback from our clients. It is also not overly pricey for such a good quality product.”

To aid in the tasting process, Jacques Scott’s Sergio Serrano chose a Zinfandel from Starlite Vineyards as a great wine pairing with the meaty offerings. Grapes are sourced from the Starlite Vineyards located in Sonoma County’s Alexander valley. The Starlite Vineyards winery is family-owned by proprietors Arman and Rina Pahlavan work alongside sons Spencer and Theodore, producing aromatic and luscious wines. The Zinfandel is a great example of the varietal, producing a garnet-coloured wine that is full of black cherries, plums and chocolate on the nose and silky tannins on the palate.