Dry Ageing – The Shape Of Beef To Come

1.33pm, Thursday 4th August, Bathurst & Kent Streets, Sydney, New South Wales

Back to Sydney from Wollongong on the train, and I have some time to catch up the last couple of days. Firstly I want to spend a bit of time on our dinner in Kings Cross on Tuesday night at “Smiths On Bayswater – Butcher & Wine Merchant”. This is the sister set of stoves to The Chophouse in Sydney central, and the number one item on the agenda in both kitchens is meat. Really good meat. Kingsley Smith is the owner of these meat houses and just loves the stuff. He’s spent a huge amount of time talking meat – beef in particular – to folks at the great steakhouses across the United States, and has transported their best home to Sydney……and we’ve been on the good eating end of all that experience twice in the same week. So to Tuesday night’s dinner at Smiths On Bayswater – organised in conjunction with Matt from Vintage Cellars Darlinghurst and our own Louise Midolo. We had the 2009 Virgilius Viognier and the 2008 Yalumba Eden Valley Wild Ferment Chardonnay with the entree – ‘Celeriac & Smoked Haddock soup with a Soft Quail’s Egg’.Now the picture doesn’t look particularly flattering, but the flavour was fabulous, and the quail egg was the cherry on top! Absolutely spot on with both wines. Then before the main course was served, Kingsley came out and gave us a bit of background on how they go about dry ageing their beef. This is quite old hat for steakhouses in the USA, but is relatively new in Australia, with most beef being ‘wet’ aged until now, which is in cryovac bags. Our main course was a “350 g Dry Aged Sirloin” with the bone in – which in the USA is refferred to as the Delmonico cut.Kingsley went on to fill in the detail. The beef comes from Jindalee north of Wagga Wagga, and the cattle were grain fed for 150 days where the grain mix even includes citrus peel. Apparently there’s no difference in the tenderness of the meat whether it’s ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ aged, it’s all about the flavour – and there’s more with the dry aged. Also, with meat ‘on the bone’, the bacteria in the bone breaks the fibres down more – giving rise to a broader range of flavours. So, at the end of the day, cooked medium rare, here’s the ‘Delmonico’ cut = a T Bone with the eye fillet cut away, leaving the sirloin bone in.

And here it is with the house sides added – Roasted Portobello Mushrooms, Smoked Mash, horseradish and Dijon mustard.

Now I have to be honest with you, I’m definitely carnivorous, love beef in just about every shape and form, but I can’t have blood anywhere in the meal, so usually go for ‘well done’ or ‘cremated’ when it comes to steak. But for the first time ever, I went with Kingsley’s reccommendation and stuck with medium rare.And the steak was amazing. Yes it was pink, especially next to the bone, but the meat was extremely tender without being soft and bloody. I was really pleasantly surprised. And the mushroom and mash weren’t far behind either. All of this combined with the 2006 Signature Cabernet Shiraz and 2009 Scribbler and we had a very memorable food and wine combo on our hands. Smiths is down toward the bottom of Bayswater Road, and you’ll need to slide through the bar and out the back into the indoor pavilion roof garden style dining room – which just quietly – has plenty of romantic corners if you’re lucky enough to be on that sort of night out.The wine list is good and lengthy, and they make their own ‘coffe cocktails’ as a finisher offerer after dinner. So if you’re keen on beef, drop by and have a look at what they’re up to at Smiths. There’s every chance I might be in there myself!! Thanks to Matt, Lou and Kingsley for a top night out, and I can see us back at Smiths whenever we’re in Sydney.

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