There’s a chef in my house and he’s cooking four steaks just for me.
My mania for meat is well-documented on this blog. It’s so obvious that one reader once commented (and I paraphrase): ”You write so much about meat that you might have to rename the blog.” Yes, perhaps. I eat meat like a man and my favorite restaurant meals include steak. But while I like eating out, I like cooking steaks at home too.
Chef Chris Bautista, a private chef and restaurant consultant, is in my kitchen today to introduce me to another option for retail steaks. They’re from Melbourne Prime, a 15-month old company that offers a range of Australian high-grade beef. The meats fall under four categories, each ascending in quality and price: Signature Label, Free-Range Angus, Grass-Fed Wagyu, and Wagyu Reserve.
Chris is cooking the steaks on his cast iron grill pan, an excellent medium because it retains high heat. There’s a pouch of Melbourne Prime’s Classic Steak Rub that Chris lightly coats the Wagyu Tenderloin with. The rub is subtly spiced with a barbecue overtone and is minimally salty. I can imagine it’ll be great too on fish and pork or even as a table condiment. The characteristic hisss! of heat seducing steak sounds throughout my kitchen and smoke ensues. It’s intoxicating. Chris has his iPhone beside him counting down three minutes cooking time per side for the tenderloin. It’s a small and squat but thick piece of meat. As the tenderloin cooks, Rhett Urrutia, one of the owners of Melbourne Prime, arrives to join us. He’s quite reserved at first but as I ask him more about his company, his eyes light up, his passion resounding in his voice.
- tenderloin (left), striploin (right)
The tenderloin (above), so named because of its softness, is truly tender. Chris cooks it just a breath over medium-rare, its middle a deep pink. Sprinkled with grains of coarse sea salt, the salinity of which perks up the mellow flavor of the meat. “Tenderloin is tender but it’s not very exciting, taste wise,” Rhett avers and Chris adds, “That’s why I used the rub here, because tenderloin really isn’t so flavorful.” Tenderloin has never been my cut of choice, it’s too ladylike for me; but for those who prefer it, pick this.
A pair of rib-eyes, Wagyu and Signature Label, hit the grill next. With exceptional, not to mention expensive cuts of meat, the less done to them, the better. Rendering a light hand with a sprinkle of salt and a swoosh of olive oil, the rib-eyes hit the grill. As they smoke and scent up the kitchen, Rhett talks about Melbourne Prime’s focus on “experience-based marketing,” the act of letting the customer gain familiarity with the different meat cuts and how to cook them properly. Truly, to taste is to believe.
Rhett runs Melbourne Prime along with his Melbourne-based son, Carlo, who is a licensed meat exporter. The company is part of their expanding vision to make available to Filipinos quality cuts of meat, all of which are hand-selected from Australia’s finest beef producers.
- Wagyu rib-eye
- Signature rib-eye
The rib-eye steaks that our trio tries are both lusciously meaty and fatty. They’re exceptional but possess slight nuances. Both steaks have “bite,” as compared to the tenderloin which poses no resistance. The Signature ribeye has the big, beefy taste I look for in a steak, waves of richness intermingling with fat and flavor. The Wagyu ribeye has that too, and something else, a slightly more tender texture, no teeth required, just tongue. I cut a slice, and there, exposed, is a glistening layer of fat and a deep reservoir of meat whose flavor is clean and vibrant, everything every steak ever wants to be. I suddenly realize that the table has gone mute, all three of us are concentrating on the various meaty pronouncements within.
Nothing prepares me for the Angus Striploin however, which proves to be my favorite cut of all. I’ve always been a rib-eye girl – best of both meat and fat, after all – but this striploin strips everything else bare. When raw, the marbling of the meat is evident, white lacing through pink, the lot shrouded by a layer of fat above. When cooked, the marbling provides an indescribable succulence that contrasts with the dense grain of this cut, it’s highly flavorful and even slightly chewy. I want to hoard and hog the last remaining slices for myself but I’m with two other men and their appetites must be respected. I’ve been accused of having a man’s appetite however, so who knows.
Melbourne Prime Meats has a Specialty Steak Shop at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. Various meat cuts are available for retail along with the accoutrements to beef up (pardon the pun) one’s meat eating experience. Consider the various (meat) rubs here as well as a selection of sea salts and Murray River Gourmet salt flakes that are blush-pink in hue. There are also cast iron grill pans – Staub brand at that – my latest object of obsession.
For the holidays, Melbourne Prime is offering Christmas Packs (above), a combination of steak cuts, olive oil, rubs and salts with prices beginning at P2,950. Now that’s how you wish a meat lover a Merry Christmas.
Contact information updated Aug. 17, 2011
4362 Valdez Street corner Makati Ave (behind Barrio Fiesta)
(02) 403.4273 / (02) 899.3344
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com