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ulterior epicure

Carnevino

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Since reading jsmeeker's report of an 8-month dry-aged steak, I became mildly obsessed. How could this be? I endeavored to find out for myself.

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: “meat wine”)

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 “riserva” 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 can’t tell you how that eight-month dry-aged steak tastes, because I didn’t end up having an eight-month dry-aged steak. I had one that was dry-aged for eleven months.

That’s 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 wasn’t as waxy as attic-hung ham, per se. But the fat in this meat had clearly achieved a different state of being – 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). It’s 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. I’ve 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, I’m 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 I’m not sure I liked it here. In fact, I’d say it was a bit distracting.

4. The beef was very sweet. I’ve never had beef this sweet before.

Skeptical?

Yes, very.

I have no reason to disbelieve that this meat was 11-months old. The texture really was totally different from any other aged beef I’ve 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 I’ve ever had).

If this beef was truly 11-months old, I’m a little shocked by the price. I mean, $100 for a Porterhouse isn’t cheap, but given that it’s extremely aged, it’s not expensive either. But then again, if it’s 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. It’s 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.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I would like to reply to ulterior epicure. I can vouch for the dry aging process. The dry aging facility is located near Blue Diamond and Dean Martin Drive in Las Vegas. Yes, I can understand the disbelief that beef can or possibly even should be dry aged this long but they do it. Basically controlled breakdown of the meat. Alhough I am not an employee or even work for Molto Vegas I am at that facility every Thursday for the chefs farmers market hosted by Molto Vegas and now open to the public. I have had lengthy discussions with Chefs from Mario Batali's restaurants there including Exec. Chefs Shirley and Zack as well as Doug Taylor regarding the process. It is very, very interesting. As far as the reason for the rosemary, not my area of expertise. I am on the food production side of this experience and a Board member of Slow Food Las Vegas. I might add that there is some wonderful natural beef available from a northern Nevada rancher near Fallon out of Smith Valley, Nevada. Small scale producer finishing only about 30 head a year. You might also enjoy Bar 10 Ranch beef, Red Devon cattle which is a rare breed, pastured in the winter on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Fifth generation cattle ranchers.


Robert Morris

Slow Food Las Vegas

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I would like to reply to ulterior epicure. I can vouch for the dry aging process. The dry aging facility is located near Blue Diamond and Dean Martin Drive in Las Vegas. Yes, I can understand the disbelief that beef can or possibly even should be dry aged this long but they do it. Basically controlled breakdown of the meat. Alhough I am not an employee or even work for Molto Vegas I am at that facility every Thursday for the chefs farmers market hosted by Molto Vegas and now open to the public. I have had lengthy discussions with Chefs from Mario Batali's restaurants there including Exec. Chefs Shirley and Zack as well as Doug Taylor regarding the process. It is very, very interesting. As far as the reason for the rosemary, not my area of expertise. I am on the food production side of this experience and a Board member of Slow Food Las Vegas. I might add that there is some wonderful natural beef available from a northern Nevada rancher near Fallon out of Smith Valley, Nevada. Small scale producer finishing only about 30 head a year. You might also enjoy Bar 10 Ranch beef, Red Devon cattle which is a rare breed, pastured in the winter on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Fifth generation cattle ranchers.

Robert, thanks for this very helpful post. I had tried to go see the facility, but it did not work out.

If you read my blog post about this, you'll also see that I question whether or not the dry-aged beef has been treated with UV radiation. Do you know whether or not this is the case?


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Since reading jsmeeker's report of an 8-month dry-aged steak, I became mildly obsessed.  How could this be?  I endeavored to find out for myself.

I came to a different conclusion about the steak than either jsmeeker or his host, local food commentator, Mr. Curtis.

Spelling correction: Mr. John Curtas.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I'm in Vegas, not for the happiest of reasons--it's my father's funeral tomorrow, but today also happens to be my wife's and my tenth anniversary, and we know my father would have wanted us to celebrate and tell him about the restaurant afterward, so we made a reservation a couple of days ago after arriving in town, mentioning that we'd be interested in trying a riserva steak. Alas, there were none available this evening, so I guess if one wants to be sure, it would be a good idea to make the request further in advance and confirm availability by phone, but we still had a great meal.

We started with a dry-aged beef carpaccio lightly seared on the outside, but still raw throughout over arugula with a Barolo reduction and shaved parmesan. A little oversalted, but once you got through that, the Barolo reduction was quite nice and the beef had a surprising sweet flavor.

Next were angelhair pasta with a white truffle egg yolk sauce, like a carbonara, but without ham, with additional freshly shaved white truffle at the table. This was also a bit oversalted, but the truffle was quite delightful, the $50 price tag for a half-order a bit of a surprise.

We also got a half order of the beef cheek ravioli with a nice sweet and thick aged balsamic (though not a tradizionale), grated parmesan, and what seemed to be another egg based sauce. A good combination of sauces and flavors, but I thought the beef cheek filling could have had a more interesting texture had it been less finely ground.

We had two glasses of a 2004 St. Emilion bordeaux, I forget exactly which, mostly cabernet franc and a small proportion of merlot, which was pleasantly earthy.

The main course was a 10-week aged porterhouse for two, medium rare, with Maldon salt. Of a variety of sauces we chose a porcini bearnaise, and we ordered a side of sauteed mixed wild mushrooms and cippolini onions. I thought the bearnaise was a bit overcooked, and would have liked a stronger porcini flavor, but the mushrooms and cippolini were good, and the steak was perfect. 10 weeks is not 8 months, but I could still tell the difference between this and a 4-6 week aged prime steak. The fat seemed to have something like a cured texture, and the fillet side had good density and concentrated flavor. I recently had a steak at another excellent steak house that I ordered medium rare and thought it was cooked at too high a temperature--just right in the middle but too great a proportion of well-done to rare. This was just right for my taste--a thin layer of char, a layer of medium rare, and a rare center.

Sliced tableside by the waiter with a dull knife. He managed to do a neat enough job, but one wonders about steakhouses that want to make a show of tableside carving and don't give the waiters sharp knives and the training to use them in an impressive and flawless way. I saw a similar performance at Strip House--knife too short, didn't make a mess, but not much of a show for what should be a show. This is the sort of thing those cranky guys at Luger do effortlessly.

Dessert was a chocolate cream tart with a very thin crust and an elderberry sauce--very nicely done, and they can also make a decent, very aromatic espresso.


Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)

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Made reservations for Carnevino recently. Not going until November but I figured why not? Intrigued by the riserva steaks after looking around here and there was an "eating las vegas"video on Carnevino. Interview with the chef on that too. Should I go riserva or will the steaks on the menu be better tasting? I'll try anything but if it tastes like bleu cheese I know I may have a problem. This place looks amazing I must say.


Edited by Elrushbo (log)

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We just got back from a 5 night stay at Palazzo and loved it! As far as Carnavino we had 2 apps,,1 arugula salad and 1 house made pastrami and both were good but nothing great. For the entree we had the ribeye for 2. $70 pp. and we both thought it was good but nothing crazy. for $140 for the steak i wanted beefy buttery ribeye and i was a bit disapointed. the sides were very nice though and the service was very nice. Just my opinion but i thought the beef would have been much better.

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