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4Nov

Howdy!

Today’s object of interest is a big ol’ bag of Golden Island All-Natural Five Spice Beef Jerky from the jerky selection at the local Costco.

Golden Island All-Natural Five Spice Beef Jerky

Golden Island All-Natural Five Spice Beef Jerky

This is the second of three “Epicurean Flavors” from Golden Island to receive our Jerkyology attention, picked up at the local Costco.  While the variety of any type of item at Costco is, by design, pretty limited, their reputation for quality is well-known.  Golden Island makes a number of jerkies, generally tasty and of good quality, and this special selection of flavors appears to be available only online and through Costco.  For the curious, a typical “Asian Five Spice” is a combination of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan pepper, and cennel seeds, though recipes may contain a variety of alternative ingredients like tumaric and ginger.  The important thing though is just how good this Five Spice jerky is.  Challenge accepted.  Let’s see what you get with this one:

Taste (B+):  This is a tasty jerky.  The flavor is predominantly a sweet one with a nice “Asian” flair.  You’ll notice a well-balance saltiness and the familiar notes of soy sauce that add breadth to this jerky’s taste.  There’s a tiny bit of spice in there too, though difficult to make out on its own, that adds some character overall without drawing any real attention to itself.  The mix is, taken all together, a great one.  Piece to piece it is pleasant and appetizing.
Texture (B):  In general, this jerky is a moderately tender and slightly moist jerky.  The meat is cut along the grain, at a bit of an angle, and has a ragged and tattered surface.  It tears easily and is nicely chewable… if you take a bite without any gristle.

Smell (C+):  The scent of this jerky is okay, but not particularly remarkable.  It has a surprisingly weak aroma considering the strength of its flavor and making out anything specific from what you can smell is a challenge.  This isn’t bad by any stretch, but it doesn’t add much to the overall experience.  So while the generally nondescript scent doesn’t offer anything of note it doesn’t offend in any way.

Appearance (B+):  This jerky looks pretty good once you get used to it.  The pieces are medium to largish in size, though there are a fun number of crumbs to be found.  They are a dark brown color with a ragged surface that looks at first like a coating of seasonings but with some scrutiny turns out to be tattered bits of the meat itself.  It’s a very distinctive look.

Consistency (C-):  While it is clear that a great deal of attention went into crafting an enjoyable and high-quality treat, this particular jerky has some consistency challenges.  First, there is an exceptional amount of gristle in the bag.  More than just bits of fat here and there – something you’d generally expect, particularly in higher quality jerkies made with minimal processing – this jerky had dozens of pieces that you just couldn’t eat.  After the fist few unsuccessful bites you end up eyeing the next piece with suspicion and end up trying to visual week out the disagreeable bits by hand.  It’s more than a bit distracting.  The pieces themselves are cut thickly and are generally substantial, but again not reliably so.  A sizable portion of the bag has pieces 2-3 times as thick as the norm and their moisture content varies from dry-but-tender to nearly-desiccated and ‘old’ feeling.  The flavoring too suffers from lackluster execution.  While the majority of the bag delivers the sweet and tasty five spice flavor well, it’s a slight majority.  Easily a third of the jerky in the bag had either a very weak flavor or a flavor that seemed out of balance with the norm.  Overall this inconsistency of the meat itself, its thickness and moisture, and flavor really take a toll on the appeal of this jerky.

Overall Impression (C+):  This is so nearly a great jerky.  The flavor is good and the meat enjoyable, but with the significant inconsistencies in the jerky itself the quality suffers greatly and it really diminishes its appeal.  The folks at Golden Island have the makings of something great, but for now at least it’s merely “okay”.  If you’re willing to wade though the tough bits and can overlook the variability of execution from piece to piece, it really is a tasty jerky and there’s still something there to enjoy.  Be brave and try a bag – maybe you’ll have better luck than we did.  Eat well!

5Sep

Howdy!

Today we’re tearing into a bag of Texas Best Smokehouse Beef Stix purchased at their outstanding store in Italy, Texas.

Texas Best Smokehouse Beef Stix

Texas Best Smokehouse Beef Stix

No stranger to this veritable shrine to dried meats, the Beef Stix are just one of many tasty treats arrayed to tempt the visitor.  Unlike sausage-style sticks, these “Stix” are strips of regular beef so the temptation to see how they stack up to the veritable cornucopia of other meats offered at the smokehouse was simply too great to refuse.  Just how tasty are these narrow strip of beefy goodness?  Let’s see what you get with this one:

Taste (A):  Straight up, this jerky’s taste is fantastic!  Foremost you taste a solidly delivered black pepper kick.  It’s strong, and enjoyably so, and pairs up with the beef itself in an outstanding fashion.  There’s also a pronounced garlic flavor accompanied by a low-key brown sugar sweetness that seem to chime in with the pepper in a way that takes the whole well beyond the sum of the parts.  It’s an outstandingly tasty and yet deceptively simple flavor.

Texture (A):  While this natural-style jerky is only slightly moist it is quite pliable and easy to tear.  The bites start of slowly requiring a bit of effort to really dig into the beef, but it quickly softens up to really let the flavor out.  The pieces are cut along the grain and can be torn by hand easily enough.  The feel of this jerky in your mouth though is really something special.  It’s substantial and tough while also quickly soft and tender.  You get the whole gamut of feels from this jerky and it’s just really fun to eat.

Smell (B):  This jerky projects a relatively low-key scent, primarily conveying garlic and hints of black pepper.  It’s dry enough that there’s just not a lot of scent going on there, but what you do smell is still pretty pleasing, all told.

Appearance (A):  This jerky is natural-cut along the grain into long strips, or “Stix”.  These Stix are several inches long and generally around a half-inch wide.  Cut relatively thin, the meat has a dark reddish-brown hue and very, very slight sheen.  The meat itself looks to be of excellent quality and is really eye-candy in its own right.  Simply stated, the folks at Texas Best Smokehouse make a find looking jerky.

Consistency (A+):  These sticks are clearly the work of folks with deep expertise and zealous attention to detail.  The moisture of each piece was indistinguishable from one another, always maintaining that exceptional dry yet pliable feel.  The taste, similarly, was fantastically good from the first bite to the last with the pepper and garlicky sweetness steady throughout.   This jerky is simply outstandingly made and is a real testament to the skill of the folks at Texas Best Smokehouse.

Overall Impression (A):  This is an exceptionally good jerky.  The flavor is delicious, it feels like joy in your mouth, and you have real sense of the quality and care that went into making it with every bite.  This is the good stuff and if you’re a fan of peppery jerky this one will doubtless be a quick favorite.  If you make your way into the Texas Best Smokehouse you can rest assured that selecting their Beef Stix is a choice you’ll definitely feel good about on your way out of the store.  Swing on by Italy and grab yourself a bag of this awesome jerky and you’ll be in for quite a treat.  Eat well!

8May

Greetings!

For today’s tasty adventure we’re taking a bite out of some Texas Gourmet Regular Beef Sticks purchased at a local gun show.

Texas Gourmet Regular Beef Sticks

Texas Gourmet Regular Beef Sticks

Texas Gourmet, based out of Arlington, Texas, makes a small assortment of beef jerky and beef sticks with a focus on ol’ fashioned quality and tasty goodness.  We sampled a few of their meats at the show and knew right away there was a review to be done.  So, does this jerky deliver a tasty Texan treat?  Let’s see what you get with this one:

Taste (A-):  This is a tasty, tasty sausage that starts with a smoky and salty flavor with a pepper kick and strong onion and garlic flavors.  The smokey and savory are present in just the right balance and they blend exceptionally well.  There’s a bit of a tang, probably from some citric acid, that opens it all up a bit and rounds out the flavor nicely.  While the flavor is full and delicious it still manages not to be at all overbearing.  This just tastes great.

Texture (A):  Taking a bite of this sausage is such a treat.  The casing is thin but substantial and the sausage filling is tightly packed.  The meat itself is only slightly moist and, while still pliable, makes an enjoyably rigid and solid treat.

Smell (B+):  You get a good whiff of hickory smoke, onion, and garlic from these beef sticks.  It smells nice, mellow, and tasty.  The aroma isn’t particularly pronounced but is definitely a good compliment to the taste of these sticks.

Appearance (A):  What a great looking beef stick!  These sausages have a deep red color with dark brown highlights and the thin mottled casing gives you a glimpse at the course-ground pepper mixed into the beef.  All told they look quite delicious.

Consistency (A+):  There is clearly huge emphasis on making these quality beef sticks.  First, the flavor is dead-on consistent throughout the entire package.  From the first bite to the last they taste fantastic.  Similarly, the moisture of each stick is predictably great and the density of the sausage itself is reliably just-right.  This is more than just a well-made food, it seems made with pride.

Overall Impression (A-):  What a treat!  These are great beef sticks and the folks at Texas Gourmet can rightfully be proud of the excellent treat they’ve made.  They taste great and are a joy to eat.  If you’re perusing the tables at a DFW-area gun show and spy the Texas Gourmet booth we encourage you to make a b-line for their delicious wares.  Buy some.  Eat it.  Enjoy it!

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