No Beef On Quality

May 12, 2005

The Courier Mail 07.05.2005 Story: Andrew Mirosch 
As a passionate foodie and chef, I spend several hours a day trying to source the best quality and freshest foods. I still get excited by people who are passionate and knowledgeable about their product whether it be perfect farmed Murray Cod, premium fruit and vegetables or, in this case, meat. 
Many people still believe a steak is a steak, but I’m here to tell you all beef is not the same. 
During one of my recent foraging trips (OK, I was having lunch next door) I happened upon what I believe is one of the best butchers in Brisbane, Village Meats of Rosalie. Like a handful of other quality shops such as Redland Bay Meats, The Meating Place in Paddington and James Street Market-Butcher’s Block and Grill, these people are an excellent example of small producers who are incredibly passionate about their product and their trade. They carry only the best product Australia has to offer. 
David Richardson and Lynsay Stephenson, both from Northumberland on the Scottish border of England, recently opened Village Meats. 
Richardson did his apprenticeship in his local village and at 19 he had his first retail shop. He later owned two more in the UK, supplying many Michelin-starred restaurants. 
Stephenson works the counter and Richardson does most of the backroom preparation. 
They offer some of the best advice around on cooking the meat and poultry they sell. Their range is extensive. 
They stock rabbits, venison, Banyard game birds, Bangalow pork, Inglewood Farm organic chickens, and Havens Croft duck and chickens. In fact all chicken used in the shop is free range. This must be a first in Brisbane. 
They carry a range of 100 per cent Australian condiments and oils to complement their meat. Richardson’s ham and bacon are excellent as are his gourmet sausages. They make more than 15 types, all with fresh herbs and natural casings and they also produce five gluten-free sausage varieties. 
But back to the beef. Always look for marbling, that is the fine bands of fat running through the grain of the meat. This fat melts during the cooking process and acts as a tenderiser. Lean beef with no fat does not produce the best meat. 
Village Meats sell all the primary cuts such as eye fillet, cube roll, rump, sirloin and rib of beef on the bone, all of which are restaurant quality. However, on this day, it was the cheaper secondary cuts that caught my attention. 
Selections such as pot roast trio (short rib, osso bucco and chuck steak), brisket and shanks. When I was an apprentice, I was so poor I used to buy a kilo of beef brisket and make a great casserole full of red wine (I never seemed to be so poor that there was no red wine) and whatever vegetables I could scrounge from the restaurant in which I was working. This would feed me for a week but after 12 months I did develop an aversion to all things “stewy”.
With the hint of cooler weather in the air and after talking to Stephenson and Richardson, who are so used to cooking meals suitable for colder climes, I bought some brisket and on the way home bought a slow cooker as well. 
These days, I find myself actually seeking out cheaper cuts to make fantastic stews and casseroles for myself and my family. 
All beef sold by Village Meats at Rosalie is sourced through Nolan Meats Private Selection Range. Nolan Meats was founded in Gympie in 1958 by Pat and Marie Nolan. Now sons Michael, Terry and Tony are the company directors. 
All of Nolan Meats beef meat is grown, processed and marketed to the stringent MSA (Meat Standards Association) grading system. They introduced their Private Selection brand 12 months ago which Terry Nolan believes improves on the MSA systems by setting even tighter grading specifications. 
As a result of their quality they now sell 60 tonnes (180,000 steaks) per week Australia wide. They guarantee the tenderness and quality of their meat and will replace any unsatisfactory product. 
Nolan Meats supply many top restaurants with this consistently excellent product. They supply (through Village Meats) The Louvre, Queensland’s entry in My Restaurant Rules with Private Selection beef. Village Meats is establishing the benchmark for others to follow. 
The small family owned shop is making a comeback and the big boys of meat retailing (the supermarkets) are taking notice. Some of the majors are now selling “branded beef”, organic poultry, game and other gourmet meats. 
Your butcher can tell you a lot, like where the beef was grown, the variety of cattle it came from and, importantly, how long it’s been aged. 
Stephenson is knowledgeable about suitable cuts and cooking techniques, extremely approachable and takes great pride in the product she sells.