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Evan Lobel

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  1. Hi, There is no doubt that what an animal eats affects the flavor of its meat. But as I've said in response to other questions, so much really comes down to personal taste. Some people prefer grain-fed beef, others grass-fed and still others like grass-fed/grain-finished beef, as an example. I recall hearing a bear hunter once say that every year he likes to hunt bear in Alaska just after blueberry season ends. Why? Because the bears gorge themselves on blueberries through the season and, in turn, the berries impart a unique, somewhat fruity flavor to the meat, and he claimed, tenderize it at the same time. EL
  2. Hi, Some animal parts (e.g., cheeks, hocks, neck meat, etc.) that do not appeal to American palates are appreciated by other cultures ... which leads us to exports markets for these parts. Keep an eye on innovative chefs and leading-edge restaurants that push the envelope in their search for new ingredients and new preparations. Less-used products will always be hard to come by until consumer demand reaches the point where it makes sense for retailers to offer them on a consistent basis. I think there will be continued debate and urging of the USDA to amend and strengthen the definitions of natural, organic, etc., so labeling is stricter and more consistent. There is also some controversy over the use of "american kobe" and other similar and somewhat misleading terms to describe wagyu beef raised outside of Kobe, Japan. The fact is that kobe, like the term champagne, is an appellation. In other words, champagne can only come from the champagne region of France; otherwise it is sparkling wine or methode champagnoise. Wagyu is a breed stock. Wagyu cattle can only be called Kobe if it is raised in Kobe, Japan, in accordance with that prefecture's regulations. So, while all Kobe beef is Wagyu, all Wagyu beef is not Kobe beef. Whether you're talking about prime or wagyu, both are niche products at the highest end of the beef spectrum. Production of prime is only two percent of all beef produced in this country. Wagyu production is even smaller. Therefore, on price and availability, they will remain niche products for those who can afford them. In the coming years, we may see a more diverse range of beef from different origins: argentine beef, Alberta beef, Piedmontese beef, Charolais beef, as well as pure-bred varieties of lamb, pork, etc... But these, too, will remain high-end niche products. EL
  3. Hi, To me, the most interesting eating comes from the very best meat. And, as with all food, it comes down to personal preference. I'm a beef lover and I like a meaty texture and a very beefy flavor. That leads me to a strip steak ... the classic steakhouse cut is my favorite. Porterhouse is also a favorite because it combines the filet and strip in one steak ... two different steaks, two different textures and two different tastes. It's a wonder to me that, from an anatomical standpoint, meat that is separated only by a narrow bone could have such distinctive characteristics. I'm not much for exotic game or esoteric meat. But I do have an interest in meat from specific breeds or from different origins to and deliver a unique taste experiences. And, that is very much a reflection of what we've decided to sell from www.lobels.com. Such products as Wagyu beef from the U. S. and Australia, kurobuta pork from pure-bred Berkshire pigs, free-range Australian lamb, really capture my taste buds. EL
  4. Hi, So much of cooking and grilling comes down to personal preference and using your sight, smell and touch to guide you to the results you want to achieve. Whether you put oil on the meat before or during grilling is, again, a matter of personal preference and what your experience tells you produces the best results for your taste. The discrepancy you note may have come from the fact that in our books, I, my dad, Leon; uncle, Stanley, and cousin, Mark, all write the recipes, and those recipes reflect our personal preferences. So, for example my cousin may prefer to oil the steak during grilling, while I prefer to oil it before grilling. Some people do both. The results, in terms of searing and achieving a nice crusty surface, are virtually identical. Putting the steaks on without oil develops a drier crust initially. Oiling first gives you a slightly more supple crust. One thing we call all agree on is oiling the grill before you put the meat on. Question #2 Yes, the meat we sell online at www.lobels.com and at our butcher shop on Madison Ave. is the same ... all USDA high-prime purchased for both businesses from the same meat producers. No, it is fundamental to our business to maintain the highest standards of quality. We simply buy more product to meet the demands of our growing business. EL
  5. Tad, Since its recent introduction, our customers' response to the kurobuta pork has exceeded our initial expectations. What we're hearing from our customers is that they are absolutely amazed that pork could be so flavorful, tender and juicy, compared to the commonly available commodity, or "white," pork. I believe pork at this level of quality will mostly likely remain a niche product, in part because of its cost. And, its cost is directly related to how the pork is produced. Pigs for commodity pork are bred to be lower in fat and are slaughtered at a much earlier age, compared to the type of pork we sell, which is allowed to mature and develop the intramuscular marbling that contributes so much to the premium pork's tenderness and juiciness. And as with any livestock, the longer it is on the hoof, the more costly it is to produce, in terms of grain, etc. It's difficult to say whether this type of pork will have an impact on what's available in the supermarket in the future. It all depends on what the majority of consumers demand and how pork producers respond to it. EL
  6. Hi Maggie and thanks for the question. Boy that crackling is wonderful isn't it? I think I'll be able to get it. Why don't you give me a call at the store and I'll look into it. 800-556-2357 EL
  7. Hi, Boy, isn't Hanger Steak great! Hanger has become extremely popular in the last few years, not all that easy to get really good quality though. Let me start off by saying, of course you can buy it on Lobels.com @18.98 per piece (16-18 oz.) But we're talking USDA Prime. When the center vein is taken out and the steak is grilled over hot coals, then sliced perpendicular to the grain.......WOW! watch out! Not much better. EL
  8. Hi. Thanks for the question. I do think that brines and marinades have their place, (I love brined turkey!). I'm more of a purest when it comes to steaks and chops but for pork and longer cooked meats, I have no trouble with it. Favorite rub...mix dark brown sugar, tablespoon chopped garlic, tablespoon dried marjoram, tablespoon kosher salt, tablespoon fresh ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. EL
  9. In terms of veal production, I don't see any substantial changes on the horizon. That's because if you change the method of production, you will change the inherent qualities (e.g., taste profile, texture and color) that are considered most desirable: pale color, mild taste, supple texture. Veal has these characteristics because of the way it is raised: restricted movement and a milk-based diet. Free-range veal is very different in all respects -- it is darker in color, has a distinctive taste and a pleasantly chewy-beefy texture. This type of veal appeals to some consumers, but at this time a definite minority. This may change over time, but not any time soon, in my opinion. One change I do see happening is a concerted effort to market veal to wider consumer audiences to increase consumption. This has to do with advertising, etc. but it also has to do with marketing new cuts from the less used veal parts. Veal bacon and veal ribs are a couple of examples. EL
  10. Pork is incredibly lean these days due to breeding. What do you think of today's hog verses that of 75 years ago? What characteristics do you look at when choosing hogs for your business? Do you take issue with pork injected with a saline solution like much of the supermarket pork is today? You are right about the pork today being very lean. And over the years that is precisely what commercial breeders have been aiming for: lowest production cost, getting the pigs to market as soon as possible and controlled, low fat content. The most common complaints I hear are that pork today is dry and lacking in flavor. Years ago, you'd find farmers raising different breeds and crossbreeds of pigs ... what are now referred to as heritage breeds. The meat from heritage pigs and pure-bred pigs differs substantially in appearance, taste, texture and size from the highly standardized commodity pork that is most common today. Lobel's kurobuta pork, for example, comes from 100% pure-bred Berkshire pigs. The meat is darker in color, more intensely flavored and juicy because it is abundantly marbled ... quite a distinctive trait from commodity pork. EL
  11. Hi Janet, This has been a very confusing situation for consumers and marketers alike, but the USDA has developed very specific definitions of such terms as natural, organic, certified, etc. In fact, the USDA's definition of organic is in excess of 500 pages long. Here is a link to the USDA Web site that defines many labeling terms and the USDA's definitions. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/lablterm.htm Essentially, the term "natural" by USDA standards means "minimally processed," i.e. does not fundamentally alter the raw product. The use of subtherapeutic antibiotics and supplemental hormones ARE allowed. By comparison, to be labeled organic, cattle must raised on certified organic fed throughout its lifetime. Subtherapeutic antibiotics and supplemental hormones ARE NOT allowed. EL
  12. Hi, thanks for the question. Best conditions for dry aging are a relative humidity of 60% the air should be well circulated by fans and temperature at 38 degrees. Dry aging is not something I would attempt to do at home for many reasons. Beef needs to be dry aged in larger sections such as loins, ribs, etc. One cannot dry age a steak or two in the fridge, it will just get wet mould and be inedible. EL
  13. Hi Steve, thanks for suggesting me, it’s truly my pleasure to be here. I remember when I started in the business 27 years ago my father (Leon) would often say things like; “boy, they sure don’t have beef like they did in the old days”. I think quite often the memory of moments in time, events and such seem to stick in ones head and over time that memory is greater then it actually was some time ago. Over the years much has changed in my business, in the early 80’s the Cryovac machine was invented which made it easier for markets to buy large quantities of meat and hold it for a long time. That is one of the reasons there are not to many skilled butchers anymore, the meat is already broken down so there isn’t the need to do it in the retail shop. Also in the 80’s there a widening of USDA Choice beef. As far as I know it didn’t affect Prime. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that even with the shortage of Prime right now, there’s still some great beef around. I have not tried Canadian Prime. EL
  14. Hi Peter. I would recommend approx. 1/8”-1/4” or 3.175-6.35 millimeters for home grinding. As for size and thickness, for me a lot depends how I’m cooking the burgers. If I’m doing it on open fire, I’ll shape the burgers on the thinner side so I can cook them real fast. If I’m cooking in a cast iron skillet I’ll shape them a bit thicker so I can cook them a little longer it medium heat. My burgers usually weigh in at about 10-12 ounces. EL
  15. Thanks, Jason I'm sure there are lots of opinions on this topic. There are simply so many combinations that people swear by. At Lobel's we mix ground chuck for juiciness, ground sirloin for texture and ground filet mignon for richness. With an ideal fat content of between 15 and 20 percent, you'll serve hamburgers that your family and guests will never forget. And if you want to try something outrageous, give ground hanger steak a whirl. I think mixing your own burger meat at home is a great idea. When doing this, you are in control of everything from fat content to cuts of meat to getting it in the refrigerator as soon as possible. I have to tell you that it’s not to often I go out for a burger, but the last one I had was at The Jackson Hole, real fatty and sloppy....yum! EL
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