A Farmer, a Butcher, and a Chef
In the Puget Sound, there is an island. On this island, there is a bluff overlooking a bay –that proclaims to be useless. On this bluff, there is a farm where forty-eight of the most beautiful cows in the country reside. They live a pastoral life feeding on grass every day, except in the winter when they eat silage. [Silage: baled fermented grass--think of it as the kimchi for the cow.] And, while these maine anjou, charolais, and limousin cows may be unaware of it, the hope is they will help change the landscape in which Seattlities consume and think about beef.
Born from Sea Creatures' inspiring visits to steak houses like Hawksmoor in London and Lé Severo in Paris--and a desire to carry the spirit of the Boat Street Café forward--Bateau, and the farm behind it--is making a statement about how beef is raised and enjoyed.
"The more we learned about beef, the more passionate we became about the subject. We wondered, 'why isn't dry aged, grass fed AND grass finished beef from mature animals widely available at home? Where are the obscure cuts? Why do we see mostly angus beef? Is it because it is the best tasting, or is it because it is the fastest growing?' We asked ourselves, 'Is there room in Seattle for a sort of our-farm-to-your-plate steak house that explores these questions?" Co-owner, Jeremy Price
Enter Chef Taylor Taylor, Farmer Paul Houser, and Butcher Tom Coss (there also is baker and a candlestick maker) who were brought on to help create the program. As Thornhill describes it, “Most ranches feed their cows corn and grain to fatten them up quickly, so they can slaughter them as soon as possible, but we don’t have to do that. Our beef is 100% grass fed and finished, and we prolong the life of the cow, so it gains weight naturaly and healthfully. In tandem with our dry aging efforts--which breaks down the enzymes in the meat--these choices make for more tender and more flavorful meat. We also want to turn people on to new, less common cuts of meat. This way we enjoy the whole animal. It’s not sustainable to purchase and consume select cuts of beef. At Bateau, we have been curing the eye of round to make bresola, grinding beef for our burger, making beef broth, tartare, carpaccio, and frying french fries in beef fat. We host special dinners where we make a proper English roast beef with all the trimmings. And, we just started making beef fat candles in house. We are doing our best to walk our talk, and hope guests will join us.” Potted hough, anyone?
Sea Creatures' asked Butcher Tom about his favorite cut. “That’s like asking me what my favorite movie is. Shanks and short ribs are great for slow roasting, and warming for the soul. Don’t put that I said, ‘warming for the soul”, says the jolly and manly bearded butcher. [SORRY, TOM.] “For roasting, neck roll is great. Steaks – Denver because it is a dense beefy cut of meat, tastes juicy, beefy. Underblade for the exact opposite reason; it’s very silky and smooth on the palette.”
Says Tom, “Let’s back up. We are stewards of this world. If you want to support 'local farms,' then this is the base level: You have to be able to eat and enjoy different cuts. The majority of meat out there, even marquee cuts at steak houses, is factory farmed. It’s detrimental to the animals and the environment, there’s a lot of waste, and it is an inferior product. If you want the best flavor, you want an animal with a stress free life and death, raised entirely on grass without hormones or antibiotics.”
Thornhill adds, “I really want Seattle to get excited about supporting a beef program that is not typical of other steak houses. I want people to try a lot of different things, to open their minds. Come in we will show you something different, something sustainable, and how it can be delicious.”
Photos by Taryn Elledge