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20May

Howdy there!  Today we’re reviewing an accidental adventure, the Artisanal Jerky Plate at The Greenhouse Tavern at The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland, OH.

The Greenhouse Tavern's Artisanal Jerky Plate

The Greenhouse Tavern’s Artisanal Jerky Plate

This place is a hip and happenin’ downtown restaurant with an innovative menu, a clear focus on quality ingredients and inventive flavors, and simply fantastic service and atmosphere.  When we saw there jerky offering on the appetizer menu, an item prepared daily, we were so enthused we ordered TWO.  You know, for science.  And it was all the more exciting when the plates arrived with TWO different meaty treats to explore – meat sticks and jerky strips!  While all this makes for a fantastic dining experience, what does it mean for Jerkyology?  Can an ‘artisanal’ jerky appetizer deliver the goods?  Lets’s see what you get with this one:

Taste (B+):  This assortment of jerky offers an array of terrific flavors.  With the meat sticks you first get a wave of garlic and pepper, soon there’s a bit of clove, and after a bit maybe a hint of chili.  It bares a truly enjoyable sweetness and a just touch of heat with a slightly sour hint in there to boot.  The jerky strips are a quintessential dried beef – a simple beef flavor, with little added flavorings, delivering a quality clean beef taste.

Texture (A):  The meat sticks are soft and moist.  They have a firm bite and are easy to chew.  The jerky strips are also moist, but with a tougher bite.  The meat chews easily enough, though requiring a bit of effort, offering a really great tactile experience.

Smell (B+):  The sticks’ scent follow right along with their taste consisting mostly of a mild but flavorful garlic and a rich but well balanced smokiness.  There’s a hint of spice, maybe clove, too.  It’s smells really nice.  For the jerky strips it’s an exercise in simplicity.  You smell the delicious dried beef and nothing else.  It’s clean and genuinely appetizing.

Appearance (A+):  The sticks are light slightly redish-brown with an appetizing casing with texturing along its surface.  The strips are cut along grain and are a darkish brown with a slight bit of red inside.  The surface of the strips are have a slight sheen and the pieces look every bit the small-batch jerky they are.  Again, nice.

Consistency (A):  For both the sticks and strips the moisture level of the meats were exceptionally consistent throughout each piece, and from piece to piece.  Clearly there was great attention to ensuring their quality here.  The flavor too was predictably good from bite to bite and every bit of this plate’s offerings were as good as the others.  The level of control exhibited here was just fantastic.

Overall (A-):  The fine folks at the Greenhouse Tavern sure do serve up some tasty jerky!  The combination of the bold and complex flavors in the meat sticks is so fantastically complementary to the clean, essential flavor of the jerky strips.  Both excellent examples in their own right, together they deliver a wonderful range of tastiness.  Also, it’s important to note that the sweet brown sugar sauce drizzled on the plate added terrific dimension to the plate, too.  All in, this jerky plate was an experiential feast for the senses and is definitely worth checking out if you’re in their next of the woods.  Eat and enjoy!

21Jun

Howdy!

In celebration of Saturday (because any day you can eat Jerky is worth a bit of celebration) we’re training our taste on a bag of Oberto Applewood Smoked Bacon Jerky purchased while traveling in Toronto, Ontario.

Oberto Applewood Smoked Bacon Jerky

Oberto Applewood Smoked Bacon Jerky

This is the forth bacon jerky we’ve reviewed but, while the previous three were seemingly identical and likely produced by the same contract manufacturer, this jerky is Oberto’s very own recipe.  They’re proud that this jerky is all natural, made without artificial ingredients or preservatives.  This jerky, recently spotted with a completely new package design, is readily available in the US and Canada.  More importantly, it’s  BACON.  Yes, one of the greatest mouth-joys of life refined into a shelf-stable meaty treat.  So, is Oberto’s take on bacon jerky a joyful rendition of our favorite breakfast meat?  Let’s see what you get with this one:

Taste (B+):  Yay, bacon!  This jerky tastes like slices of good ol’ bacon.   Really, how could that not be pretty awesome?  Your first impression is the applewood smoke flavor.  It’s simple and enjoyable.  The next thing you’d notice is the saltiness of the bacon.  It’s very salty, but not overly so, and does manage to pair nicely with the smokiness.   And… that’s about it.  It is salty smoked bacon in a bag.  Nice.

Texture (B-):  Tender and dry, this jerky tears easily and chews with only a minor effort.  The pieces are sliced relatively thin and are enjoyable to eat.

Smell (B+):  Behold the scent of smoked bacon!  This jerky smells just like it tastes and that’s a good thing.  The scent, mostly applewood smoke, is very appetizing and gives you a clear impression of the taste to follow.  The smell is strong, but not at all overbearing, and is really quite a pleasant introduction.

Appearance (B+):  This jerky looks like tasty bacon.  Again, nice.  This relatively lean bacon is sliced thinly and has an attractively marbled appearance ranging from light creamy brown to dark red.  The slices are packaged in half-strip lengths and vary in width.  Their natural bacon shape just further reinforces that you’re getting real bacon in the bag.

Consistency (B):   It’s a tricky thing trying to wrangle naturally inconsistent bacon into a consistent jerky, but the folks at Oberto have done an admirable job of it.  The slices are cut uniformly thin is predictably dry piece to piece.  The pieces come in two general sizes:  half-strips and bite-sized.  The flavor of the jerky, particularly the intensity of the smokiness and the salt, is remarkably solid throughout the bag.  Given that the lean/fat ratio of any given piece of bacon jerky can range pretty significantly, this shows a level of quality that is definitely worthy of kudos.

Overall Impression (B+):   This is a well done bacon jerky, and even slightly better than the others we’ve reviewed.  It’s a simple, straightforward bacon with a strong smoky flavor and a great eatable consistency.  It looks good, tastes good, and really… it’s bacon in a bag.  If you run across a bag of this tasty jerky feel confident in picking up some for yourself.  Eat and enjoy!

19Aug

Howdy!

Today we’re openning up a bag of Pacific Gold Original Beef Jerky, picked up at the local Costco here in Frisco, Texas.

Pacific Gold Original Beef Jerky
One of the Oberto Sausage Company brands, Pacific Gold is a mainstay at Costco.  In keeping with the ‘big box’ model, the Costco packages are a half-pound each and sport a zipper closure so you don’t have to fret about polishing off the whole thing in one sitting.  The packing declares this to be a “Premium Jerky”, but is it really all that good?  Let’s see what you get with this one:

Taste (B+):  This is a sweet jerky that first greets you with a nice, and slightly fruity, brown sugar flavor.  It’s a smooth sweetness complemented with a salty smoke flavor and a bit of garlic and pepper.  It’s very well-balanced and the sweetness and spiciness combine nicely to both enhance and accompany the flavor of the quality pieces of premium beef.  It’s genuinely tasty stuff!

Texture (A-):  These jerky pieces are naturally cut along the grain.  It’s tender, but not particularly moist, so pieces bite off easily and chew with an enjoyably substantial feel.

Smell (B):  The jerky smells smokier than you’d think, based upon the taste.  It has an almost sour note in its scent that’s definitely intriguing, but not especially enticing.  You can make out a bit of the fruity scents, too, but most of all it’s the smoke.  It smells good and is an inviting aspect of this treat.

Appearance (A-):  With large natural cut pieces sporting a dark brown color imbued with red in its depths, the jerky’s irregularly shaped pieces are real eye-candy.  It looks like small-batch jerky from days gone by and is truly easy on the eyes.

Consistency (A):  This is an excellently prepared jerky.  The pieces, despite their intentionally irregular size and shape, are expertly consistent in terms of their flavor, texture, and thickness.  The fine folks at Oberto have really shown their skill here delivering a jerky that is tasty and enjoyable from beginning to end.

Overall Impression (B+):  This is a very well made and genuinely tasty jerky.  You’ll love its complex sweetness and the fantastically well-match spices that complement it.  It eats well and is just a real treat waiting to be enjoyed.  On your next trek to your local Costco take a look to see if they have some of this delicious beef jerky and pick yourself up a few bags.  You’ll be glad you did.  Eat well!

17Jul

Howdy, friends!

Today we’re tearing into a few pieces of Dussa’s Ham and Cheese Ltd’s Beef Jerky, purchased at their delicatessen counter store in the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Dussa's Ham and Cheese Ltd's Beef Jerky

Dussa’s Ham and Cheese Ltd’s Beef Jerky

We had a great time at the the Public Market.  There was a cornucopia of fresh produce, baked goods, cheeses and, of course, meats!  Dussa’s selection of cheese was quite extensive but their assortment of jerky was respectable, but not excessive by any means.  From comments overheard while standing in line it seems they make some of their own meats and source others from area meat-wizards who likely sell to one or more of the Market’s meat vendors.  While the Dussa’s beef jerky bore a striking similarity to the beef jerky we picked up from the counter across the way at Armando’s Quality Meats we purchased a sample anyway to see what we could see.  While their similarities are significant, they thankfully aren’t quite the same, so it was the proper thing to do to conduct a thorough review of Dussa’s wares.  Is their meat as tasty as their neighbors?  Let’s see what you get with this one:

Taste (A-):  This is a simply seasoned jerky that takes the already delicious piece of beef and carefully enhances it’s flavor without trying to distract you with flash or gimmicks.  It starts with a general saltiness that’s a bit strong, but not overbearing.   There’s a bit of a peppery flavor in there too, but just barely.  And that’s about it.  It’s a straight-up tasty, old fashioned beef jerky and it’s fantastic!

Texture (A):  This is really great meat.  It’s a comparatively moist and tender jerky.  There’s no difficulty in tearing off your bite and, while it’s substantial enough to require some effort, it breaks down quickly and is easy to chew.  The pieces are large and cut along the grain so it tears with great ease, too.  It’s just a terrific, quality jerky.

Smell (B):  First, you smell the beef.  It’s meaty and savory.  Then you smell… the beef, with a slightly salty scent that makes that beef smell even just that much more enticing.  It’s simplicity.  It’s done right.

Appearance (A):  With the large, thinly cut cut pieces, this jerky looks really good.  The meat is cut along the grain and sports a dark brown color with a subtle reddish undertone.  It has a slight sheen, but only slight, that brings out the texture of the meat.  It looks every bit as fantastic as it tastes.

Consistency (A):  This is a fantastically well-made jerky.  The thickness of the pieces is uniform throughout.  The moisture and tenderness of the meat is also exactingly done.  From bite to bite the salty-meaty goodness holds true and you can clearly tell that this jerky was made with a deep understanding of how to do it right.  It’s an exacting example of how to make great jerky.

Overall Impression (A-):   This is a seriously good jerky.  Simple.  No frills.  Exceptional.  There’s a special joy to be found in beef jerky that is first and foremost about the beef.  The folks at Dussa’s have given us just that.  It’s beef, elevated to even greater heights, with a careful brine and a lot of TLC.  This is yet another reason to find your way to the Granville Island Public Market the next time your meat tooth starts to itch.  Swing by the deli counter at Dussa’s Ham and Cheese, Ltd. and sample some of this fine beef jerky.  Enjoy!

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