I am in Tucson, Arizona this week and while the only grass I see here is on the prized golf courses, several places are peddling grass fed beef. I feel bad for the golfers but I guess that explains the Titleist in my burger! Seriously though, I think the beef here in Arizona is pretty good. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that any place that is ‘known’ for their beef probably mass produces it and therefore has junk quality. Take the US Midwest for example. Kansas City, known for their BBQ, Memphis, known for their BBQ, St. Louis, not known for their BBQ but close enough to the other BBQ towns are all big on corn-fed beef! The restaurants even advertise ‘Fresh Kansas City Corn Fed Beef’ WTF, are among the acronyms that come to mind. Aren’t these places known for their beef? I guess it’s the preparation that they’re known for and yes, it’s pretty darn good and ya’ll come back now!
I went to Austin to start the month of August off and the beef is good as well and Austin’s hippie/hipster/yuppie sub-culture somewhat demands grass fed or at least menus that say so. I am not sure how much is truly grass-fed. My trip was followed by a week in Calgary, Alberta and let me tell you something Mr. Midwestern Cattle Rancher…. Your stuff will never compare to what is up north in Canada. Alberta is full of open space and it is just about expected that the beef is grass fed. The worst steak in Alberta was better than the best beef I’ve had in the USA. This whole USDA thing and whether it’s local or not means nothing to me any more. If you want beef, go to the farm and watch them feed the cows but I would rather just fly over to Calgary or Edmonton for a steak. And while you’re there you can even have Caribou, Venison, Elk, Bison, and Wild Boar.
And so now you may think that I’m upset and bitter about the fact that good ol’ USDA isn’t really that good. I look at the bright side. This year I had my fill of well prepared BBQ in Kansas City and well raised beef in Alberta and now I can go back home maybe go for a more meatless or balanced diet. Of course I can still ridicule at such farmers who feed their cows gummy worms!
The wrong animal – you are not from Texas! Real BBQ (at least the kind I love most) is made from the pig, not the steer.
BBQ in Texas is beef and in other places it’s pork. In Kansas City, at Jack Stack (http://www.jackstackbbq.com/) my friend had ribs from lamb, pork, beef, and a forth kind. I think a calf, not sure. These days I think they all try to improvise and be different so the norm has changed. I am currently anti-Memphis style because it’s too dry. Oklahoma style is sweet and North Carolina style is spicier.