I came to a different conclusion about the steak than either jsmeeker or his host, local food commentator, Mr. Curtis.
Here's an excerpt from my blog post about my meal at Carnevino. To read the entire report and the visuals, visit the ulterior epicure.
Reports of an eight-month dry-aged steak seemed like a figment. I had to check it out.
What: Carnevino (the logo, a cow kowtowing to a bottle, translates this Italian name rather effectively: ďmeat wineĒ)
Who: Batali-Bastianich (and it looks very Batali-Bastianich)
Where: Palazzo in Las Vegas
I had called two weeks in advance and asked for one of their oldest ďriservaĒ steaks to be prepared for my guest and me. We were wanting the lightest possible lunch (much eating was done before and after) so, between the 12 oz. strip steak ($75) and the much larger Porterhouse ($100 per inch), I selected the strip steak.
I canít tell you how that eight-month dry-aged steak tastes, because I didnít end up having an eight-month dry-aged steak. I had one that was dry-aged for eleven months.
Thatís right, eleven months.
Of course, I had no way of verifying the veracity of this claim, which was enthusiastically made by our server at Carnevino when we arrived in late July (2009). He said that our steak had been butchered and began the dry aging process early September of 2008. How could this be possible? How is this done? I had so many questions. I wanted to see this of-site dry-aging facility (overseen by none other than Adam Perry Lang) for myself.
Four things about the beef is worth talking about:
1. The texture was very waxy. To me, this was the best thing about the steak, the one trait that made me return to it, bite after bite. It wasnít as waxy as attic-hung ham, per se. But the fat in this meat had clearly achieved a different state of being Ė as if it had been melted and then redistributed such that every single fiber and strand of meat had been coated with fat (as opposed to alternating pockets of fat and meat). Itís almost as if what liquid was left in the muscle fiber was sealed in from a fair layer of wax.
2. The beef was unexpectedly (shockingly?) mild-tasting. With all the heavy-hitting descriptors bantered about (and which I have experienced) with regard to dry-aged beef (e.g. foie gras and Gorgonzola), I was expecting a much richer, deeper, more complex savory/meaty flavor. This riserva steak was shockingly mild. Iíve had lesser-aged steaks with more intense flavor.
3. There was a strong rosemary scent. When I commented on that, the server confirmed that they had rubbed the steak with rosemary, garlic, and a little butter before cooking. If there is a next time, I will ask them to refrain from treating the meat with rosemary (or any other herb). Perhaps they did it to mask the funk. Perhaps it was the Italian touch. Whatever the reason, Iím not sure that it served its purpose well. It muddied the flavor. Something about the way the rosemary interacted with the mild funk of the meat gave it more of a woody rosemary flavor. I really enjoy the fragrance of rosemary, but Iím not sure I liked it here. In fact, Iíd say it was a bit distracting.
4. The beef was very sweet. Iíve never had beef this sweet before.
I have no reason to disbelieve that this meat was 11-months old. The texture really was totally different from any other aged beef Iíve ever had. Whether or not it was actually 11-months, or less, all I know is that it must have been aged far beyond 60 days (heretofore, the longest aged beef Iíve ever had).
If this beef was truly 11-months old, Iím a little shocked by the price. I mean, $100 for a Porterhouse isnít cheap, but given that itís extremely aged, itís not expensive either. But then again, if itís not going to be consumed and will be going to waste, I suppose getting some money for it is better than getting no money for it. Itís not like they were batting away customers; we were the only table at lunch.
Assuming that the meat is truly dry-aged for 11-months, I felt the need to do a little more research. I turned to some experts.