After one of my many posts extolling the virtues of Roseda beef, a friend recommended that I try Snake River Farms. This fellow knows a lot more about both beef and grilling than I ever will, so I decided to indulge myself with an early Father’s Day gift and give them a try.
I poked around on their website long enough to learn that they go by SRF rather than Snake River Farms, that they started out in Idaho but moved their herd to Washington State, and that they have a clever little Easter Egg on their website in the form of a Kanji character next to their logo. I figured it meant Golden Cow or something like that, but I’m nothing if not thorough, so I asked Google to translate it for me. Google told me it meant “Very” which made no sense. I had visions of some clueless SRF cattleman strutting into an Idaho tattoo parlor in spurs and cowboy boots picking a Kanji character out of a tattoo pattern book with no clue as to its real meaning. I took a screen snap of the character and sent it to my Daughter-in-Law who currently lives in Japan. She asked some locals what they thought, totally devoid of context, and they came up with “Apex” or “Ultimate” which made it a very clever choice. SRF is at the apex of their market, and their American Wagyu beef, with its roots in Japan, is the ultimate in American beef quality. Thank you, Rachel. I guess that SRF cattleman wasn’t so clueless after all. I hope he got the tattoo!
The most important thing I learned from SRF’s website was that one American Wagyu Gold Grade steak would set me back $100, but if I spent at least $250 I would get two additional USDA Prime steaks and a package of their premium hamburgers for free as a Father’s Day special. I made sure my order hit the mark and ended up ordering $256 worth of SRF beef, which was as close to the minimum as I could get and still get the free stuff. Would you believe after spending that much money I still had to pay for shipping? I could have placed my order through Amazon.com and gotten free shipping but that seemed a bit dodgy to me, so I went straight to the source; shipping cost be damned.
For my $256…plus $10 for two-day shipping…I got three steaks weighing a total of just under four pounds. That’s a lot of money for three steaks, but these weren’t just any steaks. They were American Wagyu Gold Grade steaks, the highest quality beef SRF offers. That works out to about $4 per ounce, give or take. I usually buy my beef from Roseda Farms and pay $2.70 per ounce for Wagus steaks, their branded version of American Wagyu. And I don’t have to pay for shipping.
Was the SRF beef worth the higher cost? The only way to know for sure was a cook off. So…I picked up a couple of Roseda Farms Wagus steaks to go along with the SRF beef I ordered, opened up my test kitchen, and set up a taste test challenge: SRF vs Roseda.
I’ll post all the details about the test taste along with the many things I learned about both SRF and their approach to beef sometime down the road. For now, I’ll just say my friend was right…SRF was indeed the best, most tender beef I’ve ever tasted.
The SRF steaks edged out Rosedas’ in my blind, head-to-head taste test, but only by a cow’s eyelash…which by the way are surprisingly long. The SRF beef was tender but still had enough chew to make it a joy to eat, and it had a rich beefy flavor that lingered. But after three bites, the richness overwhelmed my tastebuds. They stopped working and just wallowed in the pool of fat all that intramuscular marbling delivered to them. At the fourth bite I just stopped enjoying it, so I stopped eating it. I figure I ate about $8 worth of that $100 rib eye.
Everything is relative when it comes to beef. The Roseda rib eye was a tad less tender than the SRF, but still much more tender than any USDA Prime grade beef I’ve eaten and without being flaccid. The beef flavor was a bit milder than SRF, but it was more complex, evolving on my palate as I chewed, revealing nuances that the SRF beef lacked. And of course, I got the Maryland terroir…that hint of a freshly mowed hayfield on a spring afternoon.
I will probably order from SRF again, but only when I want to treat Janet or my kids to a quality steak dinner. Though I appreciate it for the top-quality product it is, I can’t eat enough of it on my own to justify the cost. With the freebies I got for my Father’s Day special, I have enough left in the freezer to keep me happy for a few months. And when I run out, Roseda is just a short drive away.