When is a cow not a cow? When it’s a Txuleton
by Nick Harman - Saturday November 23, 2019 11:11 am
Before I begin, I assume none of you lovely readers are vegans or vegetarians? If so, you might want to stop reading now.
I myself eat meat, but not a lot. So, when I do eat it, I want something special.
Txuleton is that something special.Txuleton, or rib, steak usually comes from the Rubia Gallega cow.
It’s a cow from North West Spain that can be as old as 18 years before being turned into steaks.In the Basque country old dairy cows are used.
That is pretty old. I mean in the UK beef is usually slaughtered before the cow gets to three years.
Normally dairy cows past their milking prime are disposed of, but in the Basque country they are fattened up for eating.
So why are old cows so good?‘
Well’, says Sagardi Shoreditch’s meat selector Imanol Jaca, ‘it’s because mature muscle and fat tastes better and myoglobin in the muscles means a redder meat’.
And, as he points out, what makes the Txuleton even better at Sagardi right now is their Txuleton is in fact aged ox and not cow.
He’s a little hard to hear, not just because he has a strong Basque accent, but also because he’s busy cutting a large side of Ox Txuleton into the most massive rib steaks I have ever seen.
There’s the sound of sawing, then the heavy thump of a massive axe and finally a terrible ripping as he separates the steaks. I told you this article was not for vegetarians.
The steaks are carried away by chef Iñaki López de Viñaspre to be put on the massive charcoal grill that is a feature of Sagardi, it’s the best way to cook steaks ever invented and perhaps the oldest.
We carry our glasses of Basque "Sagardoa” hard cider over to tables to wait. It won’t be long as these steaks are cooked fast and rare.
While we wait, we tuck into other dishes from the just launched Tolosaldea Menu -traditional pan-fried Orio “txistorra”. These are soft and tender chorizos that I could eat forever.
However the next course is a winner too. It’s a black bean soup, earthy and warming and comes with black pudding, pork fat, cabbage and pickled chilli on the side to add to the soup to taste.
Excellent black pudding, so much softer than our own, and richer than boudin it marries up well with the soup.
It’s all good, but we’re here for the meat and here it comes fresh off the grill seasoned only with oil and rock salt. It comes ready sliced, thankfully, so you can easily share and they leave the bone on the plate.
Not for decoration but for a lucky someone to nibble at; the meat is even better close to the bone.
The meat is fantastic, quite the best steak you’re going to eat this year. Powerfully flavoured, chewy and rare in a good way, and perfectly seared.
Eating all that steak, you might choose to ignore the buttery brown fat also on the platter, but that would be a mistake.
This is good fat, all natural and remarkably melt in the mouth. Some slow roasted peppers on the side helps counterbalance all this fat and cleanse the palate.
Finally, as we push back our plates with a barely suppressed but happy groan, comes cheese from the Aralar Mountain range.
It arrives with Sagardi’s absolutely superb sourdough and a chutney.
It’s wonderful cheese, firm and ‘roof of the mouth’ tangy and just right to end. Although we can’t help but pop some chocolate truffles into our mouths as we recklessly drink off a proffered Sagardi Gin Tonica.
A coffee and it’s back into the chill wind of Shoreditch, very happy and warm inside.
It’s £90 a head this menu, but it really is special and it is limited.
Wait until December 12th and you’ll have missed it. And you don’t want to do that.Tolosaldea Menu at Sagardi London
● Traditional pan-fried Orio “txistorra”
● New Tolosa black beans with garnish
● Roasted and hand-peeled fresh red piquillo peppers
● “Buey” Galician matured beef
● Cheese from the Aralar Mountain Range (1200 metres)
The Tolosaldea menu costs £90 per person and is recommended for 4 people and entire tables (2 people minimum).
Customers can also reserve cuts of ox meat when booking into the restaurant during Ox week.
Sagardi, 95, Curtain Road (Shoreditch), Cordy House Building, EC2A3BS