Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Meat Science Essay # 1

Before I flew out of Switzerland, two days ago, I enjoyed the best meal of my life. At least the best meal I can recall since that joint in Madrid I wrote about. I'm not a big steak eater, though I come from Horse and Cow Folk who are known to eat beef four times per day. I zig zag toward an "In and Out Burger" and stick to yardbird and fish. But then again...the three best steaks of my life have been: 1. Tri-Trip on an open fire in Cuyama, California - at my sister-in-laws place. That's the far end of a sirloin, cooked over oak coals. Fresh air and Hank Williams music helps.
2. Peter Luger's in Brooklyn - aged steak and sliced tomatoes under the Williamsburg Bridge - go there...take a cab....disregard the snotty lawyers...enjoy...; and 3. Betley and Ollie's Chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland. Betley and Ollie are in their 80's. They used to run a cafe near the train station in Saanen, and now they cook private gourmet meals in their Chalet, which was built in 1754. Ursulla Andress eats at their house. She was James Dean's first girlfriend in Hollywood. Time flies. She's still ruggedly handsome. We all are.
We were sitting outdoors admiring the Alps and enjoying the salad Betley pulled from her garden: greens and tomatoes. Real tomatoes. They tasted like strawberries soaked in Sicilian oilve oil. Trains rolled by that looked like Lionell toys and the snow gleamed high up on the glacier. Then Ollie pulled out this giant propane cooker and Betley got the oil hotter than a
Pittburg slag burner... then she threw in the "entrecote." Two minutes each side. Meat science. Smoke. Alchemy. Mountain air. Or maybe it was the wine. South African whites to Italian Reds. I've lost my mind.
The last thing I recall was a glass of Dewar's Scotch and somebody smoking a Havana stogie.
Fade to pink and green. I am not a scotch drinker. Train whistles and toots. What a meal. What a life. Sabroso.
I think there was a desert of fresh berries. I cannot be certain of this. I do know that Betley and Ollie were singing romantic songs in German and French; then Ollie put on a record of some cat playing Hot Jazz on an electric saw in Paris sixty years ago. I think everyone was dancing in the garden. I'm pretty sure of this.
Betley and Ollie were in love. I was in love. The record began to skip.
I think we staggered home.
I cannot be certain....."between the idea and the reality, falls the shadow...."
Woke up. Caught a plane.
Dreaming of entrecote. Tomatoes. La vida extraordinario. Love.

TR El Paso...


Nigel Smith said...

The greatest steak I ever had was in Antigua, Guatemala, the day before my brother's wedding. Melt in the mouth is an understatement.

Tom Russell said...

Few American joints know how to cook steak, chicken or fish. We live in the land of dried up old "southwestern chicken breasts"...Airplane food. I meant to write something about how to cook a steak, but got carried away by fumes.

editor said...

Next time you're in Central Oregon I'll take you to Tumalo Feed Co. They know how to do it. No nonsense family-style cow folk place.

My brother has a master's touch, too.

So rare to find a truly memorable meal...

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Tom,
Here in New Zealand it is done with a hot as can stand it pan and long enough each side to hear it scream once, let it rest a bit, then serve with a runny fried egg on top. beautiful. The Dewars sound nice too.
Ka kite ano,

Unknown said...

I can understand if you decline this request, but would you care to be more specific about the chalet than just "Ollie and Betley's?"

Tom Russell said...

It's a private house deal sorry, aint open to the public. But running a close second would be Botin in Madrid (pig and lamb) and Peter Luger in Brooklyn. (Aged a few monthes in the back room. Served in portions for two people.)
Our New Zealand friend was correct...the key is that ultra hot frying pan that looks like it's been through the Boer War...that's the ticket...and good beef. Jesus, I'm starved.

Saddle Tramp said...


[Waitin' on a Load Blues]

TR . . . your epicurean flair coupled with your roadhouse sensiblity, makes for a great pairing.
My offering of entrees include your recommend of "Hubert's Freaks" which I devoured in two courses. Devoured is a good word choice as used in the endorsement blurb on the back by that other more famous book dealer. Between those two courses I watched "Crumb" (The Film) of which I ate up every crumb Robert left on the table, including the scene where he lovingly tapes up the last box of his record collection before it ships off to his new home in southern France.
"Crumb" and 'Hubert's Freaks" also make for a great gastronomic pairing and feast. Bon appetit.
Thanks for the lead TR.

Best recent beef. A filet at Scoma's ( wharf location - SFCA ).
Most impressive ambiance and cuisine. The Signature Room on the 95th floor of The John Hancock Building - Chicago.
As for now I settle for a Double-Double, both animal style and raw at In-N-Out Burger at Wheeler Ridge, CA on the edge of The Tejon Ranch (where it is still on the hoof). After that I will bite into my just purchased copy of Herbert Gold's new " Still Alive - a temporary condition (a memoir) ".


Tom Russell said...

In and Out Burger is like a dream out of "Blue Vlevet." Cheap. Great. Check out the bottom of your drink says "John:23" or something. Wouldn"t you know it had to be a Christian cult operation? Who cares...they have it down. "May I take your order sir?"

Saddle Tramp said...

TR . . . the quoted passage depends on the paper product. John 3:16 for a beverage cup.
They are the most consistent fast food joint I have ever been to. From Sunset Blvd. To Fisherman's Wharf they never deviate. Where do they find these people?Do they clone them? A (science) ? Also, you always get a Hobson's choice of menu. Hell, I even ordered protein style before I knew better just to vary my experience. Mistake.
Here's a double- double to ya.

By the way Gold was ( as is his reputation ) dismissive of
Kerouac , exalting of Dylan and not overly kind to Ginsberg during an hour long interview on Forum where he was
promoting his new book. Hangs with the heavy hitters
though. Take it where I can get it.


Listening to RL Burnside put out some "Heat" on his "Come On In" cd

Tom Russell said...

Lots of people were snotty about Kerouac and The Beats,especially Podheretz and Wm F. Buckley. Literature in this country has been poisoned by the squeamish and cowardly snobishness of the University system and the New York Literary Press. Piss ants on the dole. Publish or perish; and it hath perished.

Saddle Tramp said...

Most heartedly agreed TR . . .

You and I both know whose words are in bronze in the alley next to City Lights. I doubt that Buckley could appreciate a In-N-Out Burger either ! So much the more for the rest of us.

-ST OTR Delano, CA

P.S. Truman Capote was also very harsh on Jack. Called it typing , not writing. Try it sometime!

editor said...

ST —

Got a huge kick out of the image of Buckley eating an In and Out Burger. I think you could develop a whole cultural/political philosophy around that.

I've found the best way to chase off the stuffed shirts is to start talking about shooting and eating your own food.

Maybe just plopping down an In and Out would do even better...

Heh, heh, heh....

Saddle Tramp said...

Editor . . . Perhaps an even better image would be as follows:

Sorry Bill (RIP) , this is for the living in retribution for your denouncements of Jack.
Imagine if you will a certain orifice of Bill's sewn up tight with a long suture tail ( 10 ft. Long ) left attatched. TR is holding it and jerking it before every blasphemous utterance. This would explain Bill's chronic twitces.
This ones for for you Jack.

-ST On The Road
Rifle, CO ( 54 miles away )