Dish

Side Orders
Tired of those Safeway shrink-wrapped steaks? Have a huge freezer (or plans for a monster barbecue)? Then the Smedley Bar-T Cattle Co. could have just what you're looking for: beef custom-raised with all organic feed (which can cost up to twice as much as ordinary feed), and available to the general public in quarter-side, half-side, or the whole cow.

"It's always been common for people who knew a cattle rancher to ask to have a top-quality beef raised specifically for their family," says founder and President Dave Smedley. "But this is the first time that such an arrangement has been available to the general public."

The company actually breeds your cow to order, which means there's a bit of lead time involved -- about four to six months -- to get the animal up to its market weight of 1,200 pounds. And if you don't like it, you get your money back. But Smedley's betting that won't happen.

"People are starting to realize that organic food not only is more healthful, but it also tastes better," he says. "Organic food has become so 'mainstream' that you can now find it in most major supermarkets. People are willing to pay more for good food." The number's (800) 203-4060.

Chips Off the Block
Dish's mail this week included three dice-size chunks of wood -- "toasted American oak," says the accompanying blurb -- that will be used to flavor a new beer called Apollo, produced by SOMA's Big Bang Brewery, which is owned by Jean Claude Boisset, a negociant in Burgundy.

A French wine company hawking beer in blue bottles might sound odd at first blush, but, says Jean-Charles Boisset, scion of the company and head of its American division, "a beer should be given as much respect as wine."

Dish found the wood chips to have a subtly sweet aroma, a bit like unburned tobacco. As for the actual "space-crafted" ale and "space-aged" lager, they should arrive in stores by the end of the summer.

If you'd prefer your wood fix from spirits rather than beer, check out the Cannery Wine Cellar's single-malt whiskey tasting on Sept. 29. The $75 event will offer tastings of 16 single-malt scotch whiskeys, as well as an open bar and lunch.

Single-malt whiskeys are produced from fermented barley by a single distillery, unlike blended scotches, which mix the products of several distilleries. Whiskey draws some of its flavor from the wood casks in which it's aged, and some from the peat-bog-filtered water (a Scottish specialty) used to make it. Yum.

By Paul Reidinger
sfwdish@aol.com

 
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