Who doesn’t love a bit of beef? It’s true, many don’t – hello vegetarian, vegan and even “chickenarian” friends…and those who are scared by the recent horse meat scandals. Maybe my view is skewed because most of the people I hang out with are keen omnivores, feasting on organic tofu as much as on triple cooked in duck fat chips, but I think the draw of a nice piece of steak is almost universal…and irresistible. Of course, like many, I do watch my meat intake, but most of all care for the quality and provenance of it. So when I got an invitation from Scotch Beef to discover more about their quality label “Scotch Beef PGI” they had me at “farm assured beef”. It got even better: as the proof is in the pudding- in this case, the meat – we were invited to a true Scotch Beef feast at Plateau Restaurant, whose Head Chef Allan Pickett I had heard good things about.
Now, to be honest, Plateau is a fairly glossy place in Canary Wharf and not the type of restaurant I would normally go to, unless I decided to date some finance type– and this would be a BIG MISTAKE (not going to Plateau, at least. My days of dating bankers have all but gone). At Plateau, we were treated to some of the best, most consistent food I had in months, plus a lovely warm atmosphere, impeccable service and the Head sommelier Piedad curating the wine pairing choices. Very accomplished.
Our dinner-long exploration of the Scotch Beef PGI world was kicked off by champagne and a short introduction by the very knowledgeable Laurent Vernet from Scotch Beef- a true expert in all things beef. I hope I did some justice to the very thorough and passionate talk about Scotch Beef – to discover more about what the Scotch Beef PGI label stands for and how it makes a difference to your meat eating, read on in the box.
Scotch Beef PGI label: what it means for you
Scotch Beef (and also Scotch Lamb) are labeled as PGI (protected geographical indication) – a category with which the EU recognises, protects and promotes outstanding food categories. A label is a guarantee of quality as it encompasses not just the provenance, but also the production and processing methods, supply chain and distribution – from farm to plate. The Scotch Beef PGI label has been around for some 20 years and its quality assurance schemes are recognized as among the best in the world.
Beef only becomes Scotch beef if:
It has been born, raised and slaughtered in Scotland
Has been farm assured all its life (to the precise standards required for farms and abattoirs part of the Scotch beef protocol)
It is grass fed – NOT corn fed like most USDA beef, and NOT “finished on corn” like most meat passed for grass- fed. As you can imagine, this reflects directly on the plate- you get wonderfully tender but tasty meat which has less marbling and a firmer texture.
Also, if my notes are correct, apparently grass-fed beef has ben shown by research to contain less fat and more Omega 3 and Vitamin E (in addition to iron, zinc and B vitamins of which beef is an excellent source). We don’t need scientific research to know that it is certainly yummy, it makes you smile and so it is DEFINITELY good for you.
Everybody wins with quality meat
Animal health and welfare is a priority, and family farms form the bulk of this industry. It is estimated that over 50,000 Scottish jobs depending on the red meat industry (including indirect employment in other related sectors) with skills developed over generations. It is not something you can outsource to some other country overnight, so by eating Scotch Beef you are also supporting the country in a way which does not involve militarism, chauvinism, racist rants or getting enlisted in a party. Just pay a fair price for top quality meat, and you’re done. Deal!
…and back to our Scotch Beef feast at Plateau
Chef Allan came out at each course for a few words about the dish, which was much appreciated, although I am fairly sure I wouldn’t attempt any of it at home. Anyway, the food did most of the talking.
Just a quick roundup of the menu and wine pairings:
Tartare of Scotch Beef PGI with quail egg yolks and croutons; wine: 2011 Casamatta Rosso Bibi Greatz (Tuscany)
Oxtail Tortellini in Scotch Beef PGI Tea; wine: 2011 Pinot Noir La Petit Clos (New Zealand)
Salt and sugar cured Scotch Beef PGI, rocket and 24-moth Parmigiano Reggiano (another PGO I am very fond of for obvious reasons – once you try it, there’s no going back to nondescript “parmesan”); wine: 2010 Alpataco Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina)
Roast fillet of Scotch Beef PGI, ox cheek and potato boulangere, Burgundy sauce and caramelized onions; wine: 2010 Silver Label Mnastrell, Juan Gil (Spain)
Palate cleanser and dessert – both excellent but as I am not a sweet tooth I was still daydreaming about the rest
I especially enjoyed the oxtail tortellini – a brilliant, refined way of presenting a humble cut and very much on trend with the “nose to tail” eating philosophy which I fully embrace. The roastfillet was also glorious; an usually overpriced but bland cut (I, for example, much prefer hanger steak) was turned into a triumph by masterful seasoning and minimal handling, which let the quality of the Scotch Beef really shine through.
I won’t say more about the wonderful company, drinks and the rest as I am sure you are jealous enough by now (I know the whole point of food blogging is supposed to be bragging, but one has to be careful not to overdo it . Scotch Beef treated us to a delightful and informative dinner and I feel very inspired to cook more with this meat at home – I may have a Scotch Beef PGI recipe coming up soon (check out my Malaysian-style Scotch beef fillet).
Plateau Restaurant really surprised me, and now that my prejudice has been proved wrong, I will definitely be back – time to revamp that Lovestruck profile and tick the “Canary Wharf” location box…the boyfriend will understand
Disclaimer: the dinner was courtesy of Scotch Beef PGI.