Video: Tasting The World’s Most Expensive Beef
The Tasting Room Focus
The air is crisp, and the early batch of autumn leaves crunch beneath our feet. We’re traipsing down the meandering dirt path towards lunch, to be held in an open clearing at the edge of the forest where Alexandre Polmard’s famed Blonde d’Aquitaine cattle graze. We witness the herds moving leisurely, languorously even, through the expansive grounds—the entire estate measures more than 120 hectares, and Polmard keeps just 300 cows, who graze on grass until the final six months of their lives, when they are switched to a omega-rich mix of cereals and grass.
It’s the perfect day for a barbecue, and Fabrice Vulin is excited to break bread once more with Polmard and Michel Giraud, his longtime friends and collaborators. Vulin, the executive chef of The Tasting Room in Macau’s City of Dreams, has travelled back to his native country to reconnect with some of his best suppliers, and rediscover the bounty of the land. Over a long lunch, we taste no less than six different cuts of Polmard beef, cooked directly over the charcoal fire by Polmard himself. To complement, Giraud, of historic champagne brand Henri Giraud, has brought along some of the house’s most treasured labels for the occasion—including an exclusive bottling of Äy Grand Cru Fût de Chêne MV10 especially made for The Tasting Room.
It’s a prelude to a unique dinner Vulin will hold at his Macau restaurant in early 2018—a special dinner featuring vintage Polmard beef paired with Henri Giraud champagne, a magical combination that speaks of the French terroir. The beef has a minerality and depth that carries through even in the leaner cuts of meat; served medium rare to blue, the beef gives up endless waves of deep, umami-rich flavour that is testament to the Polmard clan’s unique method of preserving their meats following the ageing process. Developed by Polmard’s father, the process involves blasting the meat with a continuous jet of -43C air at high speed, which has a similar effect to cryogenic freezing, ensuring that the perfectly aged meat will keep indefinitely.
“You need to learn how to work with this meat, as there is very little fat,” explains Vulin. At The Tasting Room, the chef serves the beef tenderloin simply seared and with minimal accoutrements, to allow the meat to sing on its own. Despite the absence of marbling, the steak cuts like butter and is loaded with beef flavour that is simultaneously rich and delicate—Polmard frequently refers to the flavour of his beef as being distinctly ‘feminine’ in this manner, and prefers to pair it with white wines and champagne to match its sweetness and subtle acidity, something Giraud agrees with wholeheartedly.
Vulin remembers the first time he tried the beef, when Polmard had travelled to Hong Kong to showcase his wares. At the time, Polmard was virtually unknown, lost among a crowd of more famous butchers and suppliers from around the world. Yet, Vulin gravitated towards the young man, and he sampled the beef. “It triggered this emotion because there was this distinctive taste, an amazing flavour,” he recalls of that defining moment. Since then, Vulin has formed a strong partnership with Polmard, based on a mutual appreciation for perfection, precision and passion. “We can taste the love Alexandre has for his herd. Everything is felt in his produce, from the surroundings to the passion to the hard work."
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