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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!

22Oct

Hello!

Today we’re tearing into of a bag of Golden Island All-Natural Kung Pao Beef Jerky procured at the local Costco.

Golden Island All-Natural Kung Pao Beef Jerky

Golden Island All-Natural Kung Pao Beef Jerky

Costco’s jerky selection is usually pretty limited, often only carrying one or two ‘interesting’ flavors at any given time.  Still, while the variety isn’t great the quality of the jerky they stock is usually pretty good.  If there’s any adventure to be had from Costco’s selection it is usually from Golden Island.  On a recent trek we picked up THREE previously unfamiliar Golden Island flavors and, given the “triple crown of HOT” description, this is clearly the one that had to be tried first.  So is this jerky a tasty treat?  Let’s see what you get with this one:
Taste (B+):  Hot is subjective, but this one will probably tick the box for most folks.  There’s a flavor race when you take your first bite with a rush of sweetness flanked on all sides but a tongue-flailing spicy kick.  The baseline taste seems more that of a traditional “Asian” flavoring through the pairing of a simple sugary soy sauce combination with some additional savory spices through in to great effect.  Riding atop that flavor is a double-punch of hotness.  They used chili sauce, chili powder, a bit of turmeric and some paprika to give this jerky a decided kick, and it does the job nicely.  It’s a really enjoyable burn.  Not overwhelming by any means, but definitely something that grabs your attention and lingers for a while on your palate.  Still, these two flavor profiles don’t really play together – the effect is like eating two different jerkys at the same time.  The complement each other well enough but they are persistently distinct from beginning to end.

Texture (A):  This jerky is tender and moist and tears easily.  While cut along the grain, the pieces’ have a slightly rough, almost ragged looking surface that feels a bit fluffy, for lack of a better word, as you take your bite.  It is, initially, a bit unfamiliar but the effect is a pleasant one and you quickly acclimate to it.  In practice it almost seems a clever way to up the surface area of the jerky so it can accommodate more flavor.

Smell (B+):  The first thing you smell is a sweet and soy scent that is really quite appetizing.  With a few more whiffs you start to make out a bit of the tang from the chili flakes / pepper / powder.  It’s a distinctly Asian-style scent that nicely foretells of the great flavor that follows.

Appearance (A):  The pieces are generally medium to largish in size, easily providing a few or more healthy bites each, and are a dark brown color with inviting red hues throughout.  It also sports a substantial coating of visible red pepper and other spicy bits, a warning sign of the heat it brings to your mouth.  All together it has a distinct appearance that is both attention-getting and appetizing.

Consistency (B+):  This jerky has been made with a clear attention to the execution of flavor.  Each bite, big or small, brings the same sweet and savory flavor with an escalating heat.  The moisture level, too, is consistent throughout, demonstrating great control in the jerky making process.  The one area where this jerky falls a bit short is in the meat itself.  While the meat definitely seems to be of good quality, there were too many pieces with inedible bits of gristle.  While it would generally not be that noteworthy to have one or two bites with these unappetizing inclusions in a bag of this size, there were numerous pieces compromised in this way.  Some of the gristle was small and easily discarded while other pieces were large and invasive enough to abandon the bite or the large piece altogether.  This is by no means enough of a distraction to dull the joy of this jerky but it does diminish its otherwise excellent execution.

Overall Impression (B+):  This is a great jerky!  It’s tasty, fun, and delivers a really compelling kick in the tongue with a spicy heat that’s full on flavor rather than gratuitous pain.  The Golden Island folks truly do make great jerky and their Kung Pao Beef Jerky is a great example of their skill.  If you enjoy sweet and savory heat then this jerky will likely find a happy place in your world.  Pick up a bag and give it a whirl, but don’t forget to keep that beverage handy.  Eat well!

17May

Greetings, y’all!

Today we ’re taking a bite of some Field Trip Honey Spice No.11 Beef Jerky that we picked up as part of a mixed 6 pack jerky special from Woot!

Field Trip Honey Spice No. 11 Beef Jerky

Field Trip Honey Spice No. 11 Beef Jerky

Made from top round beef, the Field Trip folks have placed a lot of emphasis on the stated quality of their jerky.  They chose to make it without artificial preservatives, added MSG, or nitrates and tout their commitment to making something they feel is pretty special.  The previously reviewed Field Test Original and Teriyaki jerkies were pretty seriously good, does this continue the streak?  Let’s see what you get with this one:

Taste (A):  The Field Trip folks didn’t have to use much imagination in naming this jerky.  It is at first a delightfully sweet thing, first with honey and then with brown sugar and pineapple flavors.  They combine in a fantastic way and bring a cohesive sweetness to your palate.  This, however, only lasts for a few moments because the ‘spice’ taste follows fast and doesn’t hold back.  This jerky packs a great spicy kick that’ll really clear you out.  Literally.  A few pieces in and we were fishing around for the Kleenex.  The spicy kick is a one-two punch combination of cayenne and black pepper that is simply fantastic with some Tabasco and white pepper thrown in for good measure.  Even though it kicks like a well-healed mule it’s never overdone.  The sweetness and the spiciness are expertly paired and it’s a truly habit forming combo.  Delicious!

Texture (B+):  This natural-style jerky is cut along the grain and is a bit tougher than the other Field Test jerkyies we’ve tried.  It will take some work to break down this jerky but it doesn’t take too long.  Once you get your teeth into it the meat chews nicely and is genuinely enjoyable.

Smell (B-):  There’s a curious bit of distraction here.  First, the smell carries more of the soy and smoke scents than the taste would suggest while the honey and cayenne scents follow behind them, almost as an after thought.  It smells good enough, but these competing components are not particularly complementary in and of themselves.

Appearance (A):  With a dark brown color sporting red undertones, this bite-sized jerky looks pretty good!  It’s cut very thin and has a combination of straight cut and natural edges.  There’s a bit of a sugary sheen across the pieces, not everywhere but seeming to highlight various spots across the surface of the meat.  It looks as good at it tastes.

Consistency (A-):  Like the previous Field Test jerkies, this jerky seems made with exceptional attention to quality.  The flavor and moisture are spot on, bite-for-bite, delivering the same great taste and texture through and through.  It’s a mark of real skill.

Overall Impression (B+):  This is a thoroughly great jerky that does what it says.  The sweetness and spiciness are brought together so very well that it’s all a real treat to eat.  This is not a jerky for those who don’t appreciate a peppery kick, but if you do this will bring a smile to your face and maybe a bit of perspiration to your brow.  It’s really good stuff and you should definitely take the opportunity to try some out if the opportunity presents itself.  Enjoy!

14May

Howdy!

Today’s tasty tester is a bag of Field Trip Original No.3 Beef Jerky purchased as part of a mixed 6 pack special from Woot!.  Yes, that’s right.  Woot jerky.

Field Trip Original No.3 Beef Jerky

Field Trip Original No.3 Beef Jerky

This jerky, promoted as an artisan crafted food, is made from top round beef without artificial preservatives, added MSG, or nitrates.  Sounds like a good way to start your jerky day, but does this meaty treat delivery beefy goodness?  Let’s see what you get with this one:

Taste (A-):  This taste of this original style jerky is about being two things:  sweet and peppery.  The first flavor that hits you is the sweet blend of the brown sugar and pineapple juice that combine elegantly into a rich, almost complexly taste.  There’s some soy and vinegar in there as well adding some welcome tangy kick.  Further buttressed by garlic and onion it all starts on your tongue as a sweet and savory festival… and then the pepper kicks in.  This jerky has a solid pepper punch that settles into your mouth and takes you for a ride.  It’s great stuff, and while this level of pepper intensity might ordinarily elicit a ‘peppered’ jerky label, it’s so well-balanced against the sweet and savory flavors that it never dominates the taste.  Really, this is a fantastically well-done mix of flavors.

Texture (B):  This thin-sliced jerky is cut along the grain and is dry, but still pliable.  Though tough at first, the pieces chew surprisingly quickly and are generally easy to eat once you work on them a bit.  It feels good.

Smell (B+):  There’s a lot going on with this jerky, smell-wise, and that complexity is probably the only thing detracting from its aroma.  One whiff and get a full-on hit of the brown sugar and smoke backed by a menagerie of teriyaki sauce scents and good ol’ pepper.  Some of them blend together, some of them stand out, but they all grab a hold of your nose with authority.  It smells pretty great, all told, but definitely demands extra attention to sort it all out.

Appearance (A):  This is a good-looking jerky!  The thin sliced pieces sport a rich brown color with a slight red tint.  The combination of straight-cut and natural edges is appetizing to the eye and it all conveys the look of a quality jerky made with care and attention.

Consistency (A):  Thin-cut jerky is a flavor technique that allows the jerky artisan to thoroughly infuse the meat with the flavors of their choosing.  Here the comparatively complex flavors are expertly instilled into each bite and are delivered with exceptional repetition.  From beginning to end the entire bag was a great adventure in sweet-savory-peppery-goodness from one lean piece of quality beef to the next.

Overall Impression (A-):  The folks at Field Trip Jerky have lived up to the artisan label with this delicious, and well-made jerky.  It sports a fantastic flavor and is made with the sort of attention to quality that tells you that they take their jerky very seriously.  This stuff is really good and if you like jerky that’ll kick-start your tongue with goodness then this is your meat.  Pick up a bag and enjoy this delicious, quality jerky.  Enjoy!

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