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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Estancia Dinner at Jardiniere: Local? Grass Fed? We'll Settle for Tasty

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 4:15 PM

click to enlarge The roasted skirt steak was beefy and tender. - MARY LADD
  • Mary Ladd
  • The roasted skirt steak was beefy and tender.
Before digging in to the Estancia grass-fed beef prix fixe at Jardiniere (300 Grove at Franklin) last night, SFoodie and überblogger Amy Sherman chatted with Traci Des Jardins, who admitted to nursing a 14-hours-ahead jet lag (she'd just returned from a trip to Outer Mongolia). Chef Des Jardins reported that the Mongolian town close to the Russian border where she and her companions stayed is by no means a tourist attraction. "The mayor from the next town over came over to check on us, make sure things were going well," she said. "Our guides would show up on horses. It was amazing."

Roasted Estancia skirt steak served with a corn empanada and smoky pimentón chimichurri sauce was beefy and tender, with a leaner, less fatty mouthfeel than conventional grain-fed beef. During the three-course dinner, Estancia CEO Bill Reed and business partner J.P. Thieriot fielded questions. Reed claimed that grass-fed beef sales make up perhaps one tenth of one percent of national beef sales. The challenge with beef is the amount of land needed to produce it, far higher than that for, say, pork or chicken.

Addressing the carbon footprint issue -- does it makes sense for San Franciscans to eat grass-fed beef from Uruguay, rather than cattle raised primarily on grain and only finished with grass? -- Reed pointed out that how a steer is raised affects meat's carbon footprint enormously. He said Estancia steer are "raised in a free-range manner, sustainable, and there are no pens or feed lots. Estancia is able to use solar energy instead of oil, and does not put the steer under taxing conditions." Somehow, knowing an animal has lived a contented life in a pasture somewhere -- even one in South America -- can make it taste a whole lot better.

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Mary Ladd


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