Nurture vs Nature

SCIENTISTS debate on whether nature or nurture (genetics versus a person’s environment) plays a more important role in developing a person. Toddlers and troubled adults aside, we got a taste of what both nature and nurture can do with a dinner with Rangers Valley, an Australian beef producer.

Rangers Valley, along with its Philippine distributor Oleo-Fats, Inc. (primarily an oil and fats manufacturer, but with interests in sauces and dairy, and now, meat), hosted a dinner on Nov. 10 at chef Josh Boutwood’s Rockwell restaurant, Test Kitchen.Rangers Valley purchases Black Angus Steers and Japanese Wagyu crossbreeds, resulting in beef that combines the best of both East and West genetics (both breeds are particularly known for excellent marbling; that is, meat flecked with fat).

Trevor Sticklen, Business Development Manager for Rangers Valley said, “It’s everything,” referring to genetics.

“We’re looking for a lot of marbling. Marbling is flavor, juiciness, tenderness. Every time somebody eats it, the quality is the same.”

The meal started with French toast and foie gras, as well as the House Sourdough — we’d have to commend Mr. Boutwood for the bread. It tasted like bread would have tasted like in a fairy tale, and Hansel and Gretel would have eaten it as a great last meal, instead of crumbling it to find their way home.

When the beef did arrive at the tables, we sure felt its presence. There was something like Steak Tartare, with Raw Black Market Rump and boneless Black Tyde Topside 5+ and raw egg yolk. Black Market is a line by Rangers Valley, featuring 100% Purebred Angus fed on grain for 270 or more days, while Black Tyde is Pure Angus fed on grain for more than 150 days. It had a really fine texture, the power of the beef turned mild by the egg emulsion.

A striploin with Jerusalem Artichoke from the Infinite line (Purebred wagyu fed grain for 500 days) had a melt-in-the-mouth texture and a velveteen quality one expects from wagyu, and a run with a knife felt like cutting through butter.

Even the palate cleanser, a calamansi sorbet, wasn’t “safe”: it was dusted with flaked and braised Black Tyde boneless knuckle.

A Black Onyx (100% Angus fed on grain 270 days) flank steak was served with Gochujang Kimchi Jam had a full meaty flavor, and an unexpected tenderness.

The star of the show was the WX Wagyu Cross (fed almost a whole year on grain) Short Loin with glazed carrots, perfectly and simply grilled, with an in-your-face flavor the way beef should be. Juicy, straightforward, with a chewiness (sans the toughness) that lets one savor and fully explore each bite.

As one can see, it wasn’t just the cow’s parents that made it so excellent. In making perfect cows, Mr. Sticklen said, what is important is “Where it is, the climate.” Rangers Valley is situated at the New England Tablelands at an altitude of 3,300 feet. It’s cooler than many areas of Australia, with a climate akin to wagyu’s Japanese homeland. “It’s not stressful on them,” he said. “Or it could be our feeding, as well.” While not giving out their trade secrets, he did say that the cows are fed on white grain and fermented corn silage.

“One thing we’ve always been [keen] on is a clean and green environment. Fresh air, blue skies, clean water,” he said. “The farmers are very, very conscious of that as well.” — Joseph L. Garcia

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