Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gate and Plate

This is interesting...from the blog Honest Meat:
Likewise, another key issue in why restaurants aren't supporting their local meat producers more significantly is the disconnect between what they are looking for and what producers want. I can't sell a 50lb box of fresh pork tenderloin every week, but I can sell them a couple whole hogs each month. But restaurants often don't have the space to break down whole animals, the skills, or they don't know how to properly menu all the different cuts of the animal.
How about the Okanagan? Well, here's a random list of some of the restaurants in the Okanagan. It is by no means a complete list, but it is a list--a starting point:

Bouchons Bistro
Black Iron Grill and Steakhouse
19 Steakhouse and Lounge
Hooded Merganser
Sals Prime Steakhouse
Grapevines (Gray Monk)
The Vanilla Pod
Hanna's Lounge & Grill
Minstrel Cafe
Old Vines (Quails Gate)
Barrell Room Bistro (Hillside)
Sonora Room (Burrowing Owl)

One afternoon, I went to each restaurant's web site, opened their PDF menu and looked at which cuts of beef were on the menu. PDF 4th quarter 2010 beef menu items of the Okanagan in descending order:

Rib Eye

Short Rib
Strip Loin
Flat Iron

And here are some cuts of beef that are not on any PDF menu in the Okanagan

Inside Top Round
Sirloin Tip
Flank Steak
Tri Tip
Eye of Round
Outside Round

Someone has to buy and do with these if there is going to be local beef. C'mon...flank steak special...how hard is that? Tri Tips? What's wrong with those? Grind some burger with Outside Round and some fat of your choosing? Staff lunch?

Speaking of local beef, I had the occasion to go to a cattle sale in Kamloops today. If you've never gone to one, you really should--especially if you live in the Okanagan. There's one in OK Falls if you don't want to schlep all the way to Kamloops. I also prefer the hamburgers at the OK Falls sale over the Beef-On-A-Bun. But that's just me.

I didn't watch ever single second of the auction...just a few hours worth. Listening to the auctioneer's "chant" got psychedelic after a while. I was told that some calves in the 600-700 pound range were getting about $1.30 a pound. That's beween $780 and $910 a calf.

I don't remember a single bred heifer or steer that fetched over $1.00 a pound. Most of them hovered around $0.75 and $0.60. It also seemed like the heavier (and often the older) the animal, the less it was worth per pound. 1200lbs of cattle at $0.75 = $900.

So...buy a 700 pound calf at $1.30 a pound, feed it for two or three years and say you sell it at 1200 pounds at $0.75 a pound for $900. That's a whopping -$10.00 in profit (provided you don't count the cost of feed, or labor caring for the animal). Do I have that right?

Restaurants: How would you feel if a customer came in, stayed there for 3 years, gained 500 lbs and during that time, that three year period, went to the bathroom randomly throughout the restaurant (again, for three years) and left -$10.00 to cover the bill?

Farmers deserve better!

Friday, January 14, 2011


I want to send a shout out to all you home bakers out there. I have recently read this book cover to cover and have to share with you all. I am a bread enthusiast, and much like the author of this book I have been dreaming of creating the perfect loaf of bread for most of my career. This author takes you on his journey of finding the "perfect loaf." Although there are many good recipe books out there, this one has brought me the closest yet to my "perfect loaf" after just three rounds in the oven with their formula.

The Basic Country Loaf formula has dramatic shape, the crust is strong and has the perfect crunch. The crumb is airy and open. This book is a great referrence for professional chefs looking to understand bread better and take their breadmaking skill to the next level. The great thing about it though is the book was written and photographed in a way that even a novice can have great success. The recipes in the book are unique, and along with several bread formulas, the author has also included great ways to use "days old" bead too.

Here are some pics from my first loaves. Happy Cooking!!