It’s fair to say that here in Australia, food plays a significant role in the lifestyle we lead; we constantly seek underground restaurants, multi-cultural taste experiences, and foodie travel destinations alike.
We are extremely spoilt for choice, too, with top quality Australian beef served across every corner of Australia – not only in our high-end restaurants but also in our growing pub and cafe restaurants.
Proving you don’t have to break the bank to experience the tastiest beef, Frank Camorra, owner and head chef at Melbourne’s Spanish hotspot MoVida, has partnered with Australian Beef to showcase his favourite spots for a good steak as well as to shine a light on the challenges the beef industry is currently facing.
We were on the ground to chat with Frank on all things Aussie beef, as well as to taste-test some of the best meat dishes in Melbourne; meat lovers, rejoice!
Since 2003, Frank Camorra has built a cult following in the way of his Spanish venture, MoVida. A first of its kind to hit the notorious foodie hotpot off the Flinders Lane precinct, Camorra’s distinctive Spanish flavour and flair – inspired by his Spanish heritage – has become a stalwart Melbourne icon.
With renowned dishes including his spiced beef tartare served with homemade potato chips; or his Andalusian-marinated spiced skewers, there’s a reason MoVida is considered one of the best Spanish restaurants in the country; a title given by Gourmet Traveller.
“As a chef, I’m not only a fan of cooking but also a fan of eating good quality meals. I am always on
the lookout for local produce or authentic local restaurants doing great things,” says Camorra.
“In particular, I love to highlight the high-quality beef we are blessed with within Australia. Partnering this quality beef with my personal Spanish flavours, it’s a win-win for all involved.”
As part of the #LocalFinds tour, we ventured to three of Melbourne’s best restaurants, as rated by Camorra. These restaurants included:
Taste-testing the meat dishes on offer at each establishment, we discussed each given dish as well as the process involved in achieving the rich and wholesome flavours.
Starting off at Bar Tini, Camorra prepared his famous Beef Tartare in an intimate setting. The recipe to this tasty appetiser can be found below.
“It’s all about using fresh beef for creating a tasty steak tartare, 100%,” explains Camorra.
“Opt for a grass-fed sirloin or eye fillet, and ensure you use Spanish smoked paprika to finish for that extra special touch.”
Next on the list was Super Ling; a newly opened, Asian-inspired establishment serving rich and tasty meat dishes with an Asian flair. Showcasing the amazing meat platter, it was a small dish like no other; think braised pig ears, beef tongue, tendon, shin & honeycomb tripe, with chilli oil, pickles and peanuts – delicious!
The last restaurant on the #LocalFinds tour was The Lincoln: a pub-hotel established in 1854 that quite possibly boasts the title of Melbourne’s best steak. Callen Peacock from Flinders + Co – a meat distribution company with a bold vision for the future – was there to explain the meat on offer for the night, which included grass fed, grain fed, and dry aged beef.
It is interesting to note that as of December 2018, Flinders + Co became the first meat company in the world to fully offset all carbon emissions. Meaning, not only are their emissions neutral but every little bit of carbon back to the animal being bred and born; raised and processed; sold and delivered is neutral. How fantastic!
A Guide on Beef
Just like wine, there are different cuts of meat that affect the flavours, texture and overall taste of your steak or meat dish. As guided by Callen Peacock of Flinders + Co, here’s what you can expect on a menu and what it necessarily means for your steak dish:
“Grass fed tends to give a sharper, punchier flavour with a lot more minerality to it and a very clean finish,” explains Peacock.
“The taste doesn’t linger around too long and there tends to be a little bit more chew to the beef and not as much marbling (traditionally). In saying that, you do get some freaks of nature that have such good breeding and so well looked after that you get some very high marble score cattle.”
“Grain fed beef tends to be richer and bolder, with a more rounded flavour that gives a bit more of an oily mouthfeel and coating with a longer lasting flavour profile,” says Peacock.
“You tend to get higher marble content and a more consistent product across multiple bodies. By finishing cattle on grain, it’s much easier to control the outcome and the final product than leaving it up to just a grass diet.”
“A majority of beef is sold around 18-months of age as it tends to be the sweet spot for keeping the tenderness of its youth matched with the marbling and fat content of an older animal,” says Peacock.
“With vintage beef, you’re seeing 5-year+ animals coming through which are darker in colour, richer in flavour and have a bit more fat coverage.”
“The flavour and eating experience you get from older cattle is exquisite. By ageing the beef, you’re drawing the moisture out of the muscle and breaking down the fibres in the meat to make it much more tender and ‘beefier’ taste.”
“The biggest difference you will see in meat selections is whether or not the animal has any wagyu genetics in it,” says Peacock.
“The reason Wagyu is so widely appreciated is due to two reasons: one, they naturally produce more intramuscular fat (marbling) than any other breed; and two, the fat they do grow has a much lower melting point than any other breed, meaning, that not only does it have more fat, but when you cook the fat and eat it, it eats like butter… Literally.”
So, the next time you’re out and steak is on the menu, consider Peacock’s beef-guide to choosing which type of cut you may enjoy best.
For more recipes and information on the #LocalFinds Tour, please visit the Australian Beef website HERE
Frank’s Steak Tartare Recipe
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes (excluding overnight dry bake)
Part One: Beef Tartare
- 250g beef strip loin, trimmed and cut into very small dice
- 4 tbsp very finely chopped red onion
- 2 pinches of Spanish sweet smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp finely diced cornichons (pickled cucumbers)
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- Sea salt flakes
- Few drops of Tabasco, to taste
- Place the beef, onion, Tabasco sauce, paprika,
cornichons, extra vrign olive oil, parsley and sea salt
in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
2. Serve in a bowl with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes, a
drizzle of olive oil and serve with potato crisps
Part Two: Potato Crisps with Lemon Salt
- 2 large potatoes (variety of your choice), peeled
- Sunflower oil for frying
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- To make the lemon salt, combine the lemon zest and sugar on a baking tray lined with
baking paper and dry in a fan forced oven on 60°C overnight. Add the fine sea salt and
store until needed.
2. Cut the potatoes lengthways into 1mm thick slices. Soak the potatoes in cold water for
10 minutes to remove the starch. Drain and pat dry completely.
3. Deep-fry the potato slices at 170°C in batches, for 2 minutes turning regularly, until
golden. Drain on paper towel and season with the lemon salt.• If you prefer, tenderloin would also work well with this recipe. When choosing the cut
of meat for tartare, it is important to pick the freshest cut. If you are unsure your local
butcher will be able to advise
• Cook the lemon zest until the zest feels like desiccated coconut and crumbles easily.
- When choosing the cut of meat for tartare, it is important to pick the freshest cut. Opt for a grass-fed sirloin or eye fillet
- You can’t cook Spanish without smoked paprika
- Cook the lemon zest until the zest feels like desiccated coconut and crumbles easily.