One of my favourite restaurants in Singapore, indeed ‘The Wandering Palate Restaurant of the Year 2012” Brasserie Gavroche, is now featuring on their specials menu, the famed Charolais Beef from Burgundy.
This is actually the first time Charolais Beef has been brought into Singapore and Chef Colin, being a true Frenchman, recognises that free-range, grass-fed beef is not only superior in quality and taste but far healthier for you than grain-feed beef with a higher ratio of the essential fatty acid Omega 3.
At this juncture, a little fat 101 is pertinent; specifically we humans need essential fatty acids (EFAs); alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic (an omega-6 fatty acid), which are essential to our biological processes and good health, and as our body cannot produce EFAs, we have to induce them.
We know that the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 is an issue, and that we should have a lot more of the omega-3, moreover apparently omega-3 makes you happy, which we definitely need more off.
We also know omega-3 is commonly found in marine and plant oils, and if we mammals must eat EFAs then it makes sense to include more of these in our diet. However, what the nutritionists are not saying loudly enough is omega-3 is also present in red meat, but more importantly higher in GRASS-FED meats, “the n−6 to n−3 ratio of grass-fed beef is about 2:1, making it a more useful source of n−3 than grain-fed beef, which usually has a ratio of 4:1”.
I am going to quote from Wikipedia as frankly, it is put so clearly and succinctly I am not going to attempt a personal take on it, but just give you the facts: “Omega 3 fatty acids are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves and algae. While seaweeds and algae are the source of omega 3 fatty acids present in fish, grass is the source of omega 3 fatty acids present in grass fed meats.When cattle are taken off omega 3 fatty acid rich grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on omega 3 fatty acid deficient grain, they begin losing their store of this beneficial fat. Each day that an animal spends in the feedlot, the amount of omega 3 fatty acids in its meat is diminished.”
I have written a comprehensive article on beef including analysis of a recent Harvard report on the subject of red meat, click here to read “Cutting out eating could lengthen your lifespan, Wandering Palate study finds.”
Back to Charolais Beef, those Dukes of Burgundy sure knew how to eat and drink; Phillip II having acquired the county of Charolais in 1390 and legend has it that during the Crusades, French Knights brought back ‘beautiful white cows’, although probably to work the land more than to eat, as they are a large-muscled bred with bulls weighing up to 1.100kg.
Over the centuries the farmers of Charolais-Brionnais have perfected the breed not only for its high quality meat but also for cattle raising as the Charolais breed very well with Angus and Hereford and can now be found in over 70 countries around the world and the breeding lines and registered breeders meticulously documented through the ‘Charolais Herd Book’.
Mais bien sûr, Chef Colin is championing the Burgundy Charolais authentique, a cow that looks so beautifully white and groomed in the fields, they all look like they are destined for the agricultural show rather than the butcher.
You have a choice between three different cuts at Brasserie Gavroche, fillet, rib-eye or porterhouse but I would not order it cooked any more the saignant (medium rare); he’s a very affable chap our Chef Colin but I wouldn’t mess with him when it comes to steak. And you should check when you are booking a table if the Charolais is on the menu, as it only goes on his specials menu as the shipments arrive and sells out quickly.
On my last visit, a friend and I shared a substantial piece of porterhouse (sirloin) seared and finished in the oven to a perfect medium-rare, served with lashings of béarnaise sauce and bottomless pommes frites. The meat had a wonderful balance between sweetness of flavour and bite of acidity, characteristic of this cut with the charcoal savoury flavours going brilliantly with our Chambertin and Cote Rotie—as in the bottle of Chambertin went down too quickly so we had to move on to Cote Rotie.
Brasserie Gavroche remains one of my favourite restaurants and goes from strength to strength; the service is consistently friendly as the food is wholesome and flavoursome classic French bistro cuisine with some flair moderne.
Actually, I have got the flavour and texture of Charolais beef on brain now and I’m going to book a table right now – www.brasseriegavroche.com