Carrie Oliver Rating: Seductive Date™

After tasting Lone Mountain Wagyu steaks on three different occasions, it should have come as no surprise that the first word to come to mind with their burger was “butter” or, more specifically, “browned butter.” The deep red, fine-grained, heavily marbled New York Strip Loins and softly textured ground beef caramelized easily. The steaks left our professional tasting panel marveling and also puzzling over the unique way the fat was present but without a heavy feel. This is sensual beef that might leave you a bit breathless.

Tasting Notes

These 100% Wagyu steaks and ground beef had a very supple, soft chew, a straight-forward, sweet, round Personality and a surprisingly strong Intensity for wet-aged beef. The mouth-feel is rich and leaves a lasting Impression. Flavor notes were mostly in the sweet range including butter and caramel. Some tasters also picked up saline notes and hints of truffle.

Meet The Ranchers

After several decades as a cow-calf operation, in 2005 the Lloyd Estrin family and their ranch manager, Stanley Hartman, became Fullblood Wagyu breeders. Today, they are one of the few producers to offer fullblood Wagyu beef to home cooks and chefs. (Most Wagyu beef in North America has been crossbred with other cattle breeds, typically Black Angus.) Wagyu beef is generally known for its high level of monounsaturated fat and its high degree of intramuscular marbling.

Lone Mountain’s calves are born on the ranch in semi-arid high desert southwestern New Mexico, where the team has designed a complex protocol to maintain a healthy ranchland ecosystem. At age 12-15 months, the calves are placed on a 450-600 day slow-feed diet including corn, wheat middings, soybean meal, and minerals in Atlantic, Iowa.

Where to Buy It:

Certified 100% Fullblood Waygu beef from Lone Mountain Wagyu is available for purchase online.

Tasting Overview:

Taster: Carrie Oliver, Gilian Handelman, Sur Lucero, Bryan Flannery
Date Tasted: November 2013 – January 2014
Cut Tasted: New York Strip Loin, ground beef
Diet/Feed: Grain Fed
Cooking Method: Charcoal Grill regular Kingsford briquets, Gas Grill
How Served: Rare, Medium Rare, Well Done
Seasoning: Kosher Salt or Maldon Salt

[learn more…]

{ 0 comments }

Carrie Oliver Rating: Marriage Material™

Looking back over tasting notes from the past 7 months, I would have to classify Twisted Horn Ranch’s 100% grass-fed and finished Longhorn beef as Marriage Material beef. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, the definition: As with a good marriage, it’s at once familiar but stays fresh, exciting, and interesting over time. What’s remarkable is how Kristine and Dave Beck have come this far in such a short time. The team started finishing Longhorn cattle just last year and have already managed to wow a professional panel, who marveled at the beef’s spike of mouthwatering flavor.

Tasting Notes

We tasted steaks and ground beef that were dry-aged 14-28-days.  All had a some chew Texture, straight-forward to adventurous Personality, and left a long, clean Impression. This beef’s base flavor is consistently deep and balanced, likely to please flavor hounds in particular. Popcorn on the nose and caramel on the tongue offer a common thread but one can also pick up tantalizing hints of hard cheeses, citrus, and black pepper.

As with any well-produced and aged beef, you can cook the heck out of the ground beef and it still tastes great.

Meet The Ranchers


Twisted Horn Ranch’s Longhorn cattle are raised by David and Kristine Beck in the town of Bloomfield in the western part of California’s Sonoma Valley. Tucked into the rolling hills between Highway 101 and the Pacific Coast, Twisted Horn came into being after David fell in love with a set of Longhorn horns. Why not raise your own, thought his clever wife Kristine. While the ranch has been in the family a long time, the Beck’s are relatively new at finishing cattle but with an enthusiastic and thoughtful approach, they’re off to a great start.

Where to Buy It: Grass-fed beef from Twisted Horn Ranch is available for purchase directly from the ranch as a whole head or by the 1/2 or 1/4. If you prefer to buy by the individual cut, you will find Twisted Horn Ranch’s beef available at Good Eggs in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tasting Overview:

Taster: Carrie Oliver, Nello Franco, and others
Date Tasted: March – November 2013
Cut Tasted: Rib-Eye, Sirloin, and New York Strip Loin steaks, 70% lean ground beef, 85% lean ground beef
Diet/Feed: Grass Fed
Cooking Method: Charcoal Grill with mesquite hardwood or regular briquets, and Big Green Egg
How Served: Rare, Medium Rare, Well Done
Seasoning: Kosher Salt or Maldon Salt

[learn more…]

{ 0 comments }

Brandon Natural (Grass-Fed) – Gateway Beef

June 21, 2013
Thumbnail image for Brandon Natural (Grass-Fed) – Gateway Beef

Carrie Oliver Rating: Gateway Beef™ Gateway Beef is the name I give to 100% grass-fed and finished beef that will win over the skeptics. Brandon Natural Beef, which hails from Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, doesn’t quite fit this category, it has a little extra oomph that I and my fellow tasters just can’t put our fingers on. Maybe [...]

Read the full article →

Morris Grassfed Beef – Seductive Date

November 27, 2010
Thumbnail image for Morris Grassfed Beef – Seductive Date

Carrie Oliver Rating: Seductive Date Beef™ Since reading about friends, Katie and Jeff Hagan, celebrating the annual arrival of their share of Morris Grassfed Beef, I have been (not so) patiently waiting for the opportunity to try it myself. I was finally able to share two spectacular steaks and ground beef with 8 Toronto food [...]

Read the full article →

Sarver Heritage Farm (Grass-Fed) – Outdoor Adventure

November 4, 2010
Thumbnail image for Sarver Heritage Farm (Grass-Fed) – Outdoor Adventure

Carrie Oliver Rating: Outdoor Adventure Beef™ The email began with the simple line, “Please allow me to introduce my farm,” but by the end, I knew this was going to be some special beef. If you have ever had the chance to drive past (or stay at) the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, you will [...]

Read the full article →

Jones Family Farms (Grass-Fed): Outdoor Adventure

October 29, 2010
Thumbnail image for Jones Family Farms (Grass-Fed): Outdoor Adventure

Carrie Oliver Rating: Outdoor Adventure Beef™ This bold, broody grass-fed steak from Jones Family Farm conjures up images of its origin, beautiful Lopez Island, one of the San Juan Islands in Washington State. Tipped off about this beef by the team at the venerated HerbFarm restaurant, these notes are from our August 2010 Artisan Steak Tasting [...]

Read the full article →

Silvies Ranch Rating (Grass-Fed) – Gateway Beef

September 15, 2010
Thumbnail image for Silvies Ranch Rating (Grass-Fed) – Gateway Beef

Carrie Oliver Rating: Gateway Beef™ In its tasting debut this lovely grass-fed steak, just released by highly regarded wild game purveyor, Nicky USA, provided a striking contrast to the grass-fed steaks from The Gleason Ranch of Washington and to other Oregon beefs we’ve included in previous blind tastings, including Carman Ranch. If you prefer a [...]

Read the full article →

Blackbird Farm (Grain-Fed) – Marriage Material Beef

August 25, 2010
Thumbnail image for Blackbird Farm (Grain-Fed) – Marriage Material Beef

Carrie Oliver Rating: Marriage Material Beef™ I love using Twitter to find new great farms and butchers. Photographer David Dadekian (@Dadekian) not only gets credit for introducing me to Blackbird Farm but he’s also our guest steak and burger taster for the day. Based on his notes, I am itching for a trip to Rhode [...]

Read the full article →

White Oak Pastures (Grass-Fed) – Gateway Beef

July 21, 2010
Thumbnail image for White Oak Pastures (Grass-Fed) – Gateway Beef

Carrie Oliver Rating: Gateway Beef™ I first spoke with Will Harris of White Oak Pastures over a year ago so it was my lucky day when my equivalent of a tooth fairy found one of Will’s grass-fed steaks at Whole Foods Market in Atlanta and brought it to me for a tasting. A few days [...]

Read the full article →

Satchel Creek (Grain-Fed) – Easy Going Beef

July 15, 2010
Thumbnail image for Satchel Creek (Grain-Fed) – Easy Going Beef

Carrie Oliver Rating: Easy Going Beef™ If you sat next to this dry-aged, grain-fed Black Angus steak at a party, he’d be the host who makes everyone feel welcome and important. This versatile steak will be easy to pair with just about any other dish on the plate. Tasting Notes: Today’s tasting notes come compliments [...]

Read the full article →