Wolfgang Puck – Snake River Farms
“See the marbling? That’s what makes it so intense…”
The steak in question is some of the finest wagyu available anywhere in the world. “Wagyu is graded with a system of lets and numbers,” explains David McIntyre, the executive chef at CUT at 45 Park Lane. It’s a complex system – of letters and numbers, of yield grades and marbling. “A is the highest, then the marbling is graded one to five, and then one to twelve.”
“And what’s the rating on this?,” asks Wolfgang Puck, as he cuts a slice of raw Wagyu, drizzles it with olive oil, sprinkles it with salt and pepper and offers it to me. “A5 11”, replies David.
There’s an intense richness to it and a melting quality but, as Wolfgang says, “you do lose some of the beef flavour.” He slices a piece of the Angus they generally serve in CUT, and gives it the same oil / salt / pepper treatment. There’s less fat but a far more satisfying beef taste.
“What we wanted was something in between,” explains Wolfgang as he shows the new (limited) pride of the restaurant: Snake River Farms American Wagyu Beef. “It’s an Angus / Wagyu cross,” adds Wolfgang, explaining some of the process behind the cattle and the meat. The cows are treated extremely well – in classic Wagyu style – and aged for much longer than regular cattle. Interestingly though, these American cows are fed a diet that’s far more diverse than the usual Wagyu cows’ grain-only diet, with alfalfa hay, wheat, corn and Idaho potatoes added to the mix.
The results speak for themselves, and the “something inbetween” is clearly visible when you line the three meats up alongside one another. The Japanese Wagyu is virtually white with a hint of red / purple. The Angus is red / purple with flecks of white. The Snake River – like a carnivorous version of Goldilocks – is just right. The marbling is intense but not dominant. Raw it’s exquisite, cooked, until that fat is starting to melt, it’s astonishing: intensely beefy, wonderfully tender, with a rich mouthfeel. Wolfgang pours me and himself a glass of his own label Pinot Noir as we tuck into the cooked comparison test. It is not, it must be said, my worst Monday ever.
Snake River Farms Wagyu will be available at CUT 45 Park Lane until July 14.