Love Me Tender: California’s Red-Hot Affair With Steak

The dish, in all its mouthwatering incarnations, is reclaiming its place at The Golden State table

Words by JORDAN MACKAY

 

Renowned as an Eden of fresh fruits, nuts and veggies, California is officially having its steak moment. And by “steak moment,” I’m referring to all aspects, from pasture to plate. Responsible ranching is a big part of the California ethos, but so is gastronomy, and this moment encompasses the best of both.

 

California is a leader in progressive, eco-friendly ranching, led by businesses like Stemple Creek Ranch, which, as part of the Marin Carbon Project, prove that cattle, raised properly, can be an asset in storing carbon in the soil. Belcampo, another business dedicated to responsible ranching, is vertically integrated, producing its beef in California and selling it throughout the state.

But it’s not all about locally raised, grass-fed beef. Some merchants pursue luxury, no matter the origins, and currently, wagyu beef — that crazily marbled meat — from Japan and beyond is still in demand. Holy Grail Steak Co., a high-end mail-order outfit out of San Francisco, ships wagyu from Hokkaido and other far-flung locales to your door. Also in S.F., Niku is a new Japan-inspired steakhouse and butcher shop specializing in Japanese wagyu beef, including A-5, sizzled over binchotan charcoal. In Century City, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse just bowed its 15,000-square-foot temple to beef and steakhouse culture; there, diners can dig into a tasting menu of wagyu from Japan, Australia and Texas.

 

Dry-aged beef is another trend, as a few weeks in a cold cellar can add tenderness and umami-driven deliciousness to a steak. Thank renowned chef and meatman Adam Perry Lang for the craze and sample it at his year-old steakhouse, APL, in Los Angeles, where beefy, funky 380-day-aged steaks are on the menu. To get dry-aged cuts at home, order from Marin’s Flannery Beef, where butchers Katie Flannery and her father, Bryan, produce some of the country’s finest steaks.

With so many vendors making the cut, this may be more than just a moment.

 

Feature image: NIKU’s grilled Imperial wagyu tomahawk steak for two with housemade kimchi. Photo by Patricia Chang.

 

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2019 Men’s Edition of C Magazine.

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