Category Archives: Commentary

NOW OPEN: My Butcher Shop

WWW.JOHNNYPRIMEMEATS.COM

The time has finally come for me to start slinging meat as opposed to just crushing it.

Over the last six years I’ve really fine-tuned my taste for high quality beef. I can almost pick out flavor notes like those freaks who test milk and wine, only I do it with beef. Blue cheese “funk” here, aroma of hazel nuts there, earthy mushrooms over yonder. You get the idea.

Writing restaurant reviews lead to writing recipes, and striving to replicate the steakhouse experience at home – even to the point of dry-aging beef at home.

My concern and respect for this amazing protein also fostered a desire to learn about the entire beef life cycle: from cow/calf operations to stockers and backgrounders; from corn farms to grazing ranches; from forage to feed; from fabrication floor to front of the case, and all the way back to the restaurant again. Start to finish. No stone left unturned. I’ve even addressed various nutritional and environmental concerns.

I’ve become an expert on steak. But photographing, eating and writing about beef was no longer satisfying me. It seemed that I hit a wall and was spinning my wheels. I wasn’t fulfilling the goals I had for this website. Or maybe my goals changed, because now I feel the need to offer these meaty experiences to you, rather than just tell you about them. I’m still going to review restaurants, highlight products and write informative articles about beef. But now there’s got to be more than just those things.

That’s why I’ve decided to open an online butcher shop. I’ve been working with an extremely high end “middle meats” company that has the resources and connections to buy out massive stocks of incredible prime, American Wagyu and even Japanese Kobe beef. They’ve got a multi-million dollar state of the art facility in the Bronx’s famous Hunt’s Point Cooperative Market with a crazy dry-aging room, a huge blast freezer and all the support they need from an incredibly skilled team of butchers.

All my steaks are cut to order, and can be fully customized. They’re individually vacuum sealed, wrapped in butcher paper and signed by a butcher before being shipped to you. Shipping, by the way, will be free and arrive at your door just 2-days after the order is cut.

I’m really excited about this. I’ve hand selected every cut that I’m offering, and I’ve even cooked up and tasted everything to verify that it’s something I’d want on my own plate. If you tend to agree with me on my steak review opinions, then you’re in good hands with anything you order from my butcher shop. You won’t be disappointed. Johnny Prime Meats will impress you.

My plan is to stock a few items that will always be available. For example, the best steak I’ve ever eaten is the American Wagyu strip.

I’ll be offering that all the time, along with a few prime dry-aged rib eye options and a prime dry-aged porterhouse.

But the bonus is that I’ll also be showcasing some rare and unique proteins that have limited supply and quantity. For example, I’ve got my hands on some really sweet dry-aged Duroc pork rib chops right now, as well as some dry-aged tenderloin tails for the grill. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll try to locate some dry-aged veal, American Wagyu hanger steaks, or lamb bacon.

And speaking of bacon, you’ll be able to add a pound of thick cut bacon to any order for just $10 at checkout. Because what steak meal at home is complete without that steakhouse style slab of thick cut bacon?

I hope you guys are interested. Check out the shop. Browse the offerings. And keep your eyes on my meat!

The Great Steak Debate 2

The Great Steak Debate is an awesome celebration thrown each year by Inside Hook, pitting eight different steak purveyors against one another in a blind taste test of strip loin for the “Golden Brand” awards: one for critics’ choice, and one for people’s choice.

This year, Chef Josh Capon hosted the debate at Bowery Meat Co, with Timex as the sponsor.

I sat at a table with my good friends from New York Prime Beef. I’m very proud of them for winning the people’s choice award, and I’m very vindicated that they were my pick for favorite.

FYI: they were their own pick as well. All three people representing their brand picked their own steak as their favorite, even though they didn’t know it was theirs! How is that for inspiring confidence in your brand?

Critics’ choice went to the delicious Kansas City Steaks cut, but in reality all of the purveyors were winners. Every steak was good. Like “The Great Steak Debate” name suggests, this was just a debate about greatness.

What a night!

Thank you Chef Capon for hosting, and for the great things you said about your tour of farms, ranches and processing plants in the Kansas City area! None of this would be possible without their hard work, and I’m sure they would love to hear what you had to say. As such, I may hit you up for an interview. It sounds like a similar experience to my trip to Nebraska.

Thank you Timex for an awesome “JP” engraved watch! Like Rocky Balboa says: “Do you like having a good time? Then you need a good watch.” Like your watches, Balboa always took a licking and kept on ticking.

And thank you Inside Hook for putting together such an awesome and inspiring evening, year after year. I can’t wait until the next Great Steak Debate!

Beef: Community, Lifecycle & Production

It’s been a year since I started getting more deeply involved with beef industry professionals and writing posts that advocate on their behalf. One thing I’ve noticed is that lots of people don’t realize how many different professions are involved in the beef industry.

It’s not just farmers, butchers and chefs. It starts, of course, with the animals themselves, the cattlemen that raise them, and the farmers that grow their food.

Like humans, cows have a nine month gestation period. For the first few months, a calf is raised on its mother’s milk (colostum – for key nutrients and immunity). After maybe six or eight months, a calf is weaned off of mother’s milk and put out to pasture. At that time decisions are typically made about whether the animal will be sold off or kept for breeding.

The feed yard is typically the next location for the animal (when the animal is about a year old). This is where they get fattened up for market.

Grain finished animals stay in a feed yard for about 120-180 days. The grain mixture they eat is typically representative of local agriculture. For example, in California there may be almond hulls mixed in with the standard corn or wheat. In New York, there are sunflower seeds mixed in. In Idaho, there is some potato mash.

Grass finished animals stay on pasture or hay for seven or eight months longer, on average, than grain finished animals. They do not eat grain. It generally takes longer for them to get to market weight.

After that, it’s off to the slaughter they go, where we have people who work at processing plants for slaughter and packing. The Humane Slaughter Act of 1958, updated in 1978 and 2002, governs how all of this is done.

At the packing plant, the beef product is broken down into primal and sub-primal cuts:

  • Primal: chuck, rib, round, loin.

  • Sub-Primal: bottom round, top round, eye round, round tip.

Then, the meat is shipped off to grocers, butchers, restaurants and other end-user locations, ultimately ending with diners like you and me gobbling up all of that delicious meat.

Veterinarians, animal care specialists, scientists and government inspectors are present at each step during this process, from farm, to feed yard, to slaughterhouse, to distributers, to grocers, restaurants and butcher shops. And, of course, law makers and beef industry professionals have helped put together all of the guidelines and regulations that govern and run the industry.

It’s a very complex and well-monitored process, so don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that beef is somehow unsafe. The industry also provides for countless jobs, and that stimulates the economy. Last, and most importantly, they all help to put steak on our dinner plates.

Johnny Prime Meats

Dear Meat Maniacs:

Something exciting is on the way: I’m going to start selling steak!

That’s right: I’ll be launching my own brand of high end steaks, which I will personally hand-select each week. There’ll be a broad range of goodies like large format cuts, prime porterhouses, dry aged rib eyes, American Wagyu, and real-deal Japanese Kobe selections, just to name a few.

Drop your email in the link HERE to be notified when the store goes live later this week. I’ve also added a “STORE” link to the top of my website menu for easy finding.

Beef on, you fucking savage carnivores!

Yours in Beef,
Johnny Prime

Bullfrog & Baum Burger Crawl

My wife and I were invited on a really cool burger crawl hosted by one of NYC’s most influential restaurant public relations firms, Bullfrog & Baum. The crawl was to celebrate National Burger Day.

On the crawl, we visited five of the joints they represent and tried nine different burgers over the course of eight hours. We were with a group of about ten people, so we were able to split and share the burgers at each place (nine burgers is a bit much for one person, even if you stretch it over eight hours).

Stop 1: Porter House Bar & Grill

We tried three different burgers here, starting off like champs.

Burger 1: I had eaten the Bar Burger before, and it still holds up as one of the greats. In fact I liked it the best of all nine from the crawl. It’s a simple double patty with American cheese on a potato bun, with jalapenos. The best way.

Burger 2: They just debuted this Pat LaFrieda truffle burger blend and threw it onto a bun with braised short rib, red onion jam, melted Fontina cheese and even more shaved black truffles. Amazing, and probably in my top three for the day.

Burger 3: The Dry Aged burger is a beef lover’s dream. You really get that earthy, dry-aged beef flavor in every bite.

Stop 2: The Vine

The American Burger at The Vine is a great tribute to an old fashioned diner burger, but elevated in quality and flavor. I really enjoyed this one. Maybe one more slice of cheese would take it into top three favorites status.

Stop 3: Boucherie

I’ve had this baby before and reviewed it, so no need rehash too much. Great LaFrieda dry-aged blend. A wallop of intense flavor.

Stop 4: Black Tap SoHo

We tried two here. Only the strong survive!

Burger 1: Black Tap’s American Burger was excellent. So simple and delicious, perfectly cooked. American cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo (on top in photo below).

Burger 2: The Greg Norman had already impressed me in the past. It was just as wonderful again. You’d think the wagyu beef would be overpowered by the blue cheese, but it just intensified the savory crust on the patty. Lovely. It’s on the bottom in the photo above.

Stop 5: Blue Ribbon Federal Grill

At our final stop, we tried two different burgers. And both were spectacularly crafted.

Burger 1: The Fed is a nice crisp patty topped with stilton cheese, thick cut bacon and pickles. The bun is an onion poppy roll that really works to enhance the flavors. What a great burger!

Burger 2: The Bar Burger here has no cheese, but it’s got an amazing crispy sear on the patty. It’s topped with a creamy whipped herb butter and pickles, and sits on an English muffin. Really simple and incredibly delicious. This one took me by surprise!

Such a crazy day! Not one bad burger in the bunch. In fact, all were pretty damn great. It was tough to choose favorites.

PORTER HOUSE BAR & GRILL
10 Columbus Cir
New York, NY 10019

THE VINE
851 6th Ave
New York, NY 10001

BOUCHERIE
99 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10014

BLACK TAP SOHO
529 Broome St
New York, NY 10013

BLUE RIBBON FEDERAL GRILL
84 William St
New York, NY 10038

Brooklyn Meat Retreat

The New York Beef Council recently hosted a “meat retreat” at Brooklyn FoodWorks, where 3rd generation butcher Kari Underly, of Range Partners, gave a tutorial on how to break down ribs and top butt or sirloin.

All the meat here was supplied by Strassburger Steaks, and was prime grade beef.

We basically broke the rib down into spinalis and eye filets.

For the butt, we broke that down into roasts and filets, as well as top sirloin cap filets. I left the fat on, and plan to grill it like picanha.

After trimming and cleaning up, we had lunch and discussed some information about the beef industry, the beef lifecycle, and beef nutrition. Then we cooked up some of what we just cut.

I made garlic and thyme rib eye filet steaks with portobello mushrooms and a blue cheese sun dried tomato sauce.

I have to say, it looked and tasted pretty amazing.

The other people at the retreat cooked up some awesome recipes as well, and all the recipes are available HERE.

The best part: we got to bring home everything we butchered!

I highly recommend getting involved with New York Beef Council activities if you’re like me and have a passion for beef. Even if you just have questions about beef safety, raising cattle, farming, or packing/slaughter. These guys and gals really know their stuff, and they’re awesome people.

Nebraska Beef Tour

I just got home from Nebraska, where I went on a beef tour that explored the entire life cycle of cattle from calving, to grazing, to the feedyard, to the packing plant.

Why Nebraska? I’ll tell you.

Nebraska’s economy is driven by corn crops, feed yards and cattle ranching. There are nearly two million people in Nebraska but nearly eight million cattle. It’s the number one red meat production state in the country.

Half of the beef produced in Nebraska goes overseas as export, to the tune of one billion dollars worth per year. The US is the third or fourth biggest exporter of beef in the world, but we also happen to be the number one importer (why we import is a topic for another day). India, believe it or not, is the number one exporter, likely soon to be bested by Brazil.

But enough of that. Let me get down to the nitty gritty of this incredible tour.

We made four stops: three in the first day, and one on the second day.

Stop 1: Knobbe Feedyards

While this was the first stop on the tour, it’s really the last phase of the animals life cycle before being sent off to the packing plant for harvesting/slaughter.

A feedyard is a place where cattle are fattened up to market weight over the course of four to six months.

Harry Knobbe (pronounced like Obiwan’s last name) and his family get yearling cattle (roughly a year old), weighing around 750lbs. The animals are generally there for 130-180 days, until they hit 1400-1500lbs, which is a good market weight. Doing the math, that means they generally reach this weight at 15 to 18 months of age, and the animals gain just under 4lbs a day. Each animal eats about 25lbs of food and 100lbs of water each day. Fatties!

The feed given to the animals changes as their time there passes. In fact there are six stages of feed with decreasing roughage/grass content and increasing corn content as time goes by (with stage one containing the most roughage content of the six). The animals are coming off of a mostly grazing/grass diet, and need to be acclimated to the corn-rich diet over time.

This friendly guy is loving his stage five feed.

Just what’s in that diet? Aside from the roughage and grasses that are always mixed in to some percentage, the feed consists of mainly two byproducts or waste products from the corn industry.

The first byproduct comes from the sweetener and corn syrup industry, and is referred to as “cow candy,” because they love it so much and it smells sweet like candy.

The second corn byproduct in the feed comes from the ethanol fuel industry. Ethanol plants would otherwise discard this substance, which is similar to the mash left from spirits alcohol distillers.

As a general number, the feed gets about 20% of each in the stage one feed, with the rest being roughage.

Grass/Hay
Adding specific quantities of each corn byproduct to the grass.
Dumping the feed into a mixing truck that will also fill the troughs.
Happy Angus cattle at the trough.

This particular feedyard has a capacity of 5000 head. That’s about average in terms of size. Their large, semi-shaded pens have ample water and space for the cattle, at 250-350sq ft per animal.

Oddly enough, the living conditions for cattle don’t change much as feed yards scale up to 10k, 50k or 100k heads; they just sprawl out more.

Kbobbe loses seven tenths of one pecent to death, which is a very good statistic. The animals come from all over the place, from different climates and states. Some locations have a higher incidence of parasites, like the wetter climate of Mississippi, for example. As such, the animals are dewormed and vaccinated when they get to Knobbe as a precaution. After all, sick animals tend not to grade as high as healthy animals.

Fun fact that I learned here: it’s cheaper to bring cattle to corn as opposed to bringing corn to cattle. Based on the numbers I quoted here, it would require ridiculous amounts of corn truckloads to be moved to cattle ranches for finishing. Thats why animals come from all over the country to finish in Nebraska; all the corn is right there. It also makes sense why Nebraska is such an important place for the beef industry.

As for the output of Knobbe, they see about 2-5% of their animals grade at prime, 75-80% choice, and the rest select.

Stop 2: Peregrine Ranch

This second stop was really the first step in the life of the animal. Don Peregrine runs a third generation calving ranch near Fullerton. This area of Nebraska is near what is known as the Sand Hills region, which generally separates what’s considered eastern Nebraska from western Nebraska.

The east is characterized by rich, lush soil that’s perfect for growing corn. The west, on the other hand, or the Sand Hills, consists of a topography that’s not good for growing corn (think 50 bushels per acre as opposed to 250).

The Sand Hills quite literally is a region of hilly topography that’s like sand dunes beneath the grass. While this is not ideal for growing corn (or much of anything, for that matter), it IS ideal for grazing cattle.

Don Peregrine’s land butts up right against the beginning of the Sand Hills region, so he consider himself a grass farmer as much as a cattle rancher.

He’s also got some river bed land, which poses a unique set of challenges in addition to those already faced in the Sand Hills. River bed land can cause hoof rot if the animals hoofs are too wet for too long.

Aside from his expertise with the land, Don has developed a unique and hands-on hybrid breeding method, with animals that have been selected by him for 40 years. One particular cow we met was 14 years old and had already given birth to 14 calves.

He employs herd management techniques like ear tagging (done early), topical dehorning (dries the horn and prevents it from growing without having to grind, saw or burn the horn down), and fence barrier weaning. These all exemplify humane, low stress practices.

In addition to grass, Don supplements the animals’ diet with minerals, “cow candy” from ethanol and sugar production, and other additives like E.P.T. for development.

Stop 3: Ryan & June Loseke, DVM

This family not only raises corn, soybeans and alfalfa, but they also run a 3500-head feed yard and a veterinary practice. Amazing!

The corn and soy beans make up 1700 acres of their land, with 40 acres of alfalfa nestled near the family home.

Technology makes it more efficient for them to run and manage their farm. Sprayers and planters are guided by GPS, which allows them to maximize the use of their land and to plant straight rows. It even tells them when less water or spray is needed in certain areas, based on topography and water tables.

I was here during corn planting season. In fact Ryan was racing to get corn planted before some forecasted rains. Sure enough it rained a lot later that night and into the morning. Good thing he got that corn planted otherwise he would’ve lost time waiting for the ground to be right for planting again.

They’re also vets for large and small animals, including pets as well. This is great, since they’re also running a feed yard and can apply their knowledge of veterinary science to their own animals.

They promote Certified Angus Beef cattle in their feed yard. They sell to Cargill, Greater Omaha and Creekstone packing plants (among others).

They even host local kindergarten students from the area schools to teach them about agriculture.

June and her son, educating our tour group about their lives.

Stop 4: Cargill Meat Solutions

This was probably my favorite part of the tour, since it’s where the animals are harvested into delicious and nutritious beef!

Unfortunately cameras are not allowed inside the facility for business proprietary and employee privacy reasons, so that’s the only shot I have.

Cargill has been in business for 150 yeas, with this facility being open since 1968. They have facilities in multiple states.

They employ about 2200 people at the plant, who hail from 28 different nations but all live in the region. They boast a 40-45% female work force, many of whom are on the fabrication floor engaged in employment that was historically only thought of as men’s work.

They’re obsessed with safety and regulatory compliance. They’ve got two labs on site to take samples of air and drainage. There’s also a third party lab engaged for pathogen testing.

There are cameras everywhere, with a video room to watch the cattle knocker and the various floors. Quality Assurance personnel watches 100% of the time to monitor both the employees and the beef. They can focus in on people to make sure they’re following various requirements, dressing the beef properly, handling knives and sterilizers the right way, etc. If they see something, they can radio a supervisor that can address the situation immediately. There’s also a red button to stop the production line if all else fails.

Not only is safety a priority for the Cargill meat supply, given all the USDA and inspectors/auditing folks there all the time, but they’re also always looking out for their employees. They have nursing staff on hand for heat, icing, massage and soreness treatments. They even have hydraulic floor lifts that raise and lower cutters to be at the appropriate and safe work height for butchery.

There are two 8-hour processing shifts of work, and one cleaning shift of work each day. The plant processes 5300 head of cattle a day, which is the largest operation in the area.

To give you an idea of scale, this comes down to 6.1 million 8oz servings of beef per day, and 3 million pounds of ground beef per week. Impressive.

I was told that 64% is a good yield for an animal carcass for edible beef protein. But nothing really goes to waste. Hides, offal, etc. are all utilized in some way, whether it’s rendering or bone gelatin. There truly is no waste. Well, everything is used except for the tail switch (bristle hairs at the end of the tail) and the “moo” (snout).

Cargill is still growing, but it’s also modernizing. They’re one of two major packers who use a camera system for grading. A special camera captures an image of the rib eye, then a computer runs an algorithm to generate a scoring number that assigns the a grade to the side of beef. This system makes meat grading less arbitrary and more consistent across their plants.

Speaking of grading, Cargill sees about 3-6% prime grade, with most of the rest being choice and select.

Cargill is also excelling on the environmental and sustainability side of things. They employ state of the art methane recovery and water conservation and purification techniques. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.

They’re also involved with the Sands County Foundation, which recognizes excellent rancher environmental practices with the “Leopold Conservation Award.”

Being such a massive employment force in the area, they also like to reinvest in the local community. Cargill Cares, United Way and various school programs all exemplify ways in which Cargill gives back to and helps enrich the community.

So what are the details of what actually happens at a slaughterhouse or packing plant? Here’s a breakdown of the carcass’ movement through the Cargill facility:

Step 1: This is the unloading of animals from the trailer onto lots. This typically takes place at like 9pm or 10pm the night before the beef is harvested. Once checked, the animals will stay there for 4-6 hours.

Step 2: The animals are walked through “the serpentine,” which is a specially designed passageway from the lots into the harvesting floor that minimizes stress. Once the animal is “knocked” it is rendered desensitized. It can no longer feel anything and is unconscious. The first knock happens just after 6am, I believe.

Then the animal is cut to bleed out, its hide is removed, it’s eviscerated (offal removed), the head is removed, and then it’s split into two sides. After all that, it is given a ticket with info for the next parts of the process. This step takes 32 minutes.

In certain stages of this phase, there are high pressure carcass washes to get mud and hair off, and to trim off any visible stuff that needs to be removed.

Steam vacuums are used for bugs and stuff that you can’t see. A 180 degree carcass wash is used to kill E. coli. An organic acid cabinet is used post-evisceration to further these precautions. There is a neck wash, and spinal material is removed with a special bladed vacuum according to directives relating to Mad Cow Disease. There’s also a steam pasteurization cabinet that exposes the carcass to 201 degree steam for nine seconds. This is also done to kill bacteria or parasites.

After some of these hot washes, the carcass is immediately chilled again. Remember this is all within 32 minutes!

Step 3: The carcass is chilled with water to bring down the temperature. This takes 28-32 hours.

Step 4: The bodies move to the sales cooler, where graders look at the rib eye. The special camera that I mentioned above is used here, and a marbling grade is determined. It’s stamped with the grade and then sorted. This takes 12 to 48 hours.

Step 5: Once the carcass hits the fabrication floor it takes just 22 minutes to put the final cuts into a box. It’s here that cutters will butcher the various parts into all the commercial cuts, according to whatever is on the order sheets from Cargill customers.

Step 6: The Cargill distribution and shipping center is almost 100% automated. The beef can be here for anywhere from 2-36 hours before it goes onto trucks for delivery. Cargill has capacity for 70,000 boxes, all individually shelved without stacking on top of one another.

The total time that the animal and end product beef is at Cargill is about 4-6 days.

Conclusion

I hope this gave you some insight into how beef is produced; where it comes from, what it eats, how it’s raised, and how it’s broken down for consumption. I really learned and experienced a lot on this tour, and I hope to go on another one soon to learn more about butchery and cuts. Texas A&M’s “Beef 101” course is on my hit list.

The Beef Checkoff

In my effort to educate you dingbats about all-things-beef, I figured this would be a nice little primer on what’s going on in the industry around the Beef Checkoff Program.

In 1985, the Food Security Act, aka the “Farm Bill,” established something called the Beef Checkoff Program. The program, which later became mandatory in 1988, takes $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable grab on imported beef and beef products.

The Beef Checkoff logo, which you will see on all things that the program funds.

The dough is collected by state beef councils, which retain up to half the amount collected. The state councils give the other half to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which oversees the national checkoff program, subject to USDA review.

There are 100 members of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. They’re nominated by fellow beef producers and appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, and they represent all segments of the beef industry.

Beef Checkoff was designed to get people to sell more beef and motivate consumers to buy more beef. This is accomplished through advertising, marketing partnerships, public relations, education, research and new-product development. The Beef Act defines six program categories: (1) promotion, (2) research, (3) consumer information, (4) industry information, (5) foreign marketing, and (6) producer communications.

You may have heard the slogan “Beef: It’s what’s for dinner” somewhere in your travels. That’s just one example of their success.

But fear not! By law, checkoff funds can’t be used to promote breeds or brands without USDA and Beef Board Executive Committee approval. Furthermore, checkoff funds can’t be used to influence government policy or action (including lobbying). The law also disallows checkoff money to be invested in production research that isn’t aimed at improving beef products.

The main goal of the program is to increase commodity demand, and thus increase economic growth in the industry. Most beef and dairy producers believe that their beef checkoff dollars bring value back to them. Many of my posts are a result of beef checkoff funding, actually. The MBA and Top of the Class programs in which I participated were funded by the checkoff. Do you think that money went to good use? I do!

Should the funding ever increase (to more than $1 per head, for example) the checkoff may consider putting the “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner” message back on TV, stepping up consumer education, or increasing foreign market development.

Cooperative Extension

The more I learn about farming and beef production in the US, the more I come across this thing called “Extension.” No, it’s not what happens when a young man sees an attractive woman sans clothing. Let me do my best to try to explain exactly what it is.

The Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Cooperative Extension provides non-formal education and learning activities to farmers, residents of rural communities, and people in urban areas throughout the country.

The country’s more than 100 land-grant colleges and universities have a critical mission, which they call “extension.” Through extension, they bring vital, practical information to agricultural producers, small business owners, consumers, families and kids.

That’s where 4-H comes into play. 4‑H is a youth development program delivered by Cooperative Extension. You may remember the commercials that used to air in the 80’s, like this one:

Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and citizenship. They receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. 4‑H touches every area of the country via in-school and after-school programs, community clubs and camps.

Anyway, that’s it! Hope this was helpful.

Stinky Cheese Week

FREE DESSERT ALERT!!!

Stinky Cheese Week is actually a thing! To celebrate, L’Express and Cafe D’Alsace (and all restaurants within the ownership’s group) are offering a special menu of selections that feature various stinky cheeses.

Okay so I said something about free dessert up above… Well, here is the explanation: I was invited in to try some food in order to let my readers know all about Stinky Cheese Week. If you go into one of their restaurants and mention the words “say cheese” and my blog or instagram account, they will comp you with a free dessert! The participating restaurants are Cafe D’Alsace, Le Monde, L’Express, Nice Matin, French Roast (both uptown and downtown) and Marseille.

Below are my reviews for both L’Express and Cafe D’Alsace.

L’EXPRESS
249 Park Ave S
New York, NY 10003

My wife and I shared the raclette cheese and salumi platter as an app. This was pretty great. The cheese was stretchy and warm, and the meats were good quality.

I had the rib eye steak frites for my entree. The fries were nice and crisp, and the steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare.

While the steak was thinly cut, this isn’t a bad deal for just $29. The cap was tender and there wasn’t much gristle on it. The roquefort cheese and onion sauce really kicked this thing up a notch too.

My wife had the stinky cheese plate for her entree. Some of these fuckers were really funky!

And for dessert, a stinky cheese panna cotta that had a jam topping. This would have been perfect on a bagel, as the panna cotta was thick and had a texture and flavor similar to cream cheese.

CAFE D’ALSACE
1695 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10128

I started with a glass of mint tea. This was a really nice way to start a cheese-centric meal.

A buddy and I shared the frisee salad with bacon and egg. Very nicely done, and I was impressed with the addition of pork rinds.

For my entree, I went with the hanger steak frites, of course.

It was topped with a melted morbier cheese, caramelized onions and a red wine sauce.

I liked this steak more than the rib eye from L’Express. It had a great texture and thickness to it, and it was cooked perfectly with a nice crust on the outside as well.

The fries were great! Very crisp and nicely seasoned.

My buddy ordered the duck l’orange. It was pretty good but the steak was definitely the winning dish for the entrees.

For dessert, we shared an apple tart with vanilla ice cream. Not only was this beautiful, but it was absolutely delicious. I highly recommend ordering this.