The night was humid with a slight infrequent wind from the east. I was almost late to a very exciting dinner and was it not for the quick tip from Kwabena on which road to use I would have obeyed the Ghanaian Meridian Time (GMT) standards; our standard of always being late to events.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and USDA hosted the dinner in honour of Dep. Sec. Harden and the Agribusiness Trade Missions at the Urban Grill, a Latin/African restaurant. It was going to be a night of celebrating Nebraska beef.
The restaurant which had a rooftop wall shrub bar and an indoor modern-accented eating area held the fifty plus invited guests to have a true taste of Nebraska beef. I was curious to find out what was different about this beef from Argentinian beef which I have had a few times at La Piazza. I now slap myself for not enquiring at previous restaurants on where the beef came from.
Nebraska also called the Cornhusker State is a major producer of beef in the United States.
Dinner started off with a rather hastily put together Green Salad which tasted much better with the bread roll & garlic butter.
I sat beside Sara Stealy and table companions Jay of MukaseChic and my buddy Kwabena. As we waited on the much acclaimed steak, the conversation rolled & diced around Trevor Noah and his hilarious Zambian escalator jokes and the origins of the different types of American accents.
That latter topic went on for a while. Why are there so many different types of accents in the United States? How did it even come about? Where did the Texan get his easily recognizable drawl from and why do the southerners sound so different? Even Sara was stumped!
Le Steak est ici! Finally the grand steak in its best medium-rare brownish attire turned up at the right time when my stomach gave a mini-growl. Grrrr… The type you hope no-one hears. A scallion was placed casually across its width. The steak look just like any other steak I had come across. But what would the taste be like? It was served with a side of cassava fries and chimicurri.
‘Would you like some black pepper on top of that?’ asked the waiter who appeared with a biggest black pepper grinder I have ever seen! Almost looked like a Palmkernel pestle. He masterfully twisted the magnificent object and fine dusts of flavourful black pepper drifted onto the meats surface.
I cut my first piece which was without any difficulty to reveal light shade ofalmost-but-not-too-close cooked red within.
The meat was rich in soft texture. I chewed a piece thoroughly within less than a minute. The texture yielded without much fight. A well done steak could have increased the amount of chewing time but I still realized that even if well done, it would have taken less chewing time due to the absolute abundance of moisture within.
The chimicurri added extra flavor to the food. I then took a sip of Nederburg Winemasters Reserve Pinotage 2013 and wondered who decided that red wine was perfect for red meats.
The wine danced with the steaks flavor on my tongue before swirling down my throat. If only I could stay longer with more steak and red wine but alas the night was drawing to a close.
I had the humbling privilege of meeting USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture just before she left. I passed on my compliments of such beautiful, delicious corn-fed beef.
We later had an interaction with the chefs at Urban Grill; Eduardo & Mario. Eduardo was very insightful on his choice of Nebraska beef over other beef choices.
He mentioned how much easier it was to cook, taking less time and of course having a great taste over others. Wagyu beef (Japanese cow) he said is also another type of beef he really loves. This breed of cattle is taken to a room full of calm soothing music and they are massaged before they are slaughtered, he said. I didn’t blink for a while and then I burst out laughing. Was it to prevent the meat from hardening, I asked? He replied in the positive. Now that must be some special beef!
We left with a promise to the chef to be back for more steak. I specifically asked for asparagus on my next visit.
In Ghana, we love cooking every meat thoroughly and through. There’s no way my Mom would fry a piece of meat for the insides to be partially red. Or the average Ghanaian man being served some proper beef cutlets and on seeing shades of red wouldn’t make some amount of fair noise. We love it well done. But I was used to medium-rare steak thanks to my adventurous palate.
If you eat out anytime and you ask for steak, make an enquiry as to where the beef is from before its prepared. If they have options, go with the Nebraska beef and do let me know your thoughts! Sante!