I was invited by Award-winning Rare Grill steak house owner Greg Bax to attend a Steak Master Class in a venue above his Kenilworth-based steak house on Monday evening. Not being sure of what to expect, other than excellent steaks which I had experienced after it was named the Best Steakhouse by Eat Out two years running, it turned out to be a fun, informal and educational evening, being taught how to buy the correct steak, how to age it, how to grill it, and which sauces to serve with it, paired with a selection of Quoin Rock wines.
We were a group of ten attending the Workshop. Nicole Kuhnert from Damn Fine Brands represented Quoin Rock wines, and I chose to drink the Namysto Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Blend on arrival. Chef and owner Greg Bax (right) welcomed us, explained what we would learn and experience, and introduced us to Chef Heinrich Koen, formerly of the Madame Zingara Group and The House of H, who was assisting him. He also introduced Nicole, who not only represents a number of local wine brands, but also Riedel glassware as well as imported Reciprocal wines. Each table setting had a book of notes for the Steak Master Class, which we could take home.
Greg immediately admitted that he has no chef training, yet proved throughout the evening how knowledgeable he is about steak selection, steak preparation, and steak serving. We were to experience a Fillet steak served with triple cooked chips and a Bearnaise sauce; a Sirloin steak served with braised cabbage and Chimichurri; and a Rump steak served with a Madagascan green pepper sauce.
Greg provided some background information about our meat-eating in South Africa, saying that because we are such big meat eaters, only 15% of our beef production is exported. Our Afrikaner and Nguni beef is not gourmet quality, according to him, while Brahman and Angus offer better quality meat for steaks. There are cross-bred variations of these too. Wagyu is only pure in Japan, any local variations of this being cross-bred. Greg searches for suppliers with cross-breeds that are special for steak preparation, usually buying meat of breeds 9 – 18 months old before slaughtering. He told us that grain-fed meat is a more sustainable farming method than grass-fed, the latter living two years longer to reach their ideal slaughtering weight.
- Fillet steak with Bearnaise sauce, paired with Quion Rock Chardonnay 2017
Nicole introduced the Quoin Rock Chardonnay 2017 to us, made from grapes from Stellenbosch and Elim, 50 % matured in French oak barrels and the rest in concrete eggs. The wine costs R230.
Greg shared that Fillet is the least flavoursome and the most tender meat, which requires no ageing. It should be eaten with a sauce, ideally a Bearnaise. It should be served Rare, or Medium Rare. The Bearnaise sauce was made in the class, Tarragon white wine vinegar being used as the base, with butter, and then eggs added slowly so that the sauce does not split.
The 150 gram fillet was grilled in griddle pans, over gas, when the pans were literally smoking hot. Greg oils the steak but adds nothing in the pan. He likes the line effect on the steak from the griddle pan. He does season the fillet with Maldon salt. The cooking time is calculated as 1 minute per 1 cm of steak on one side, and then the same length of time on the other side. Then the meat must rest for two to three minutes, before it is served.
Our Fillet steak was delicious, with the Bearnaise sauce and the triple-cooked crispy chips. It doesn’t get better than this! A good pairing with the Chardonnay too, a surprise for me, believing that steak should only be eaten with a red wine.
2. Sirloin steak with Chimichurri sauce, paired with Quion Rock White Blend 2017
Chef Heinrich had prepared the Chimichurri sauce, an Argentinian speciality as it is a meat loving country too, at the start of the Master Class, using mainly parsley, sage, and coriander, adding garlic, chili, oregano, a blended olive oil, salt, pepper, and a red wine vinegar.
Greg prepared two variants of Sirloin, dry-aged and wet-aged, for us to try the difference in taste. The dry-aged steak was rarer, the more tasty one for me. It was served with the Chimichurri sauce and braised cabbage, the latter not being a vegetable I eat.
3. Rump steak with Green Madagascan Peppercorn sauce, paired with Quoin Rock Namysto 2015
For this course we were to taste the difference in taste between Grass-fed and Grain-fed Rump steak, served with the Green Peppercorn sauce. The sauce was delicious. I was unable to detect a difference in taste between the two meat styles.
Nicole poured the Quoin Rock Namysto 2015 (R130) for this course, a blend of Shiraz (60%), Cabernet Sauvignon (29%), and some Cabernet Franc and Merlot too. All the grapes for this wine came from Elim.
A lovely camaraderie had built up at the long table over the course of the evening, I not knowing anyone else except Stuart Bailey, whom I had invited to join me. Stuart added a lot of additional information to the event, as a former steak house group owner.
The evening ended off with a warm chocolate vodka and cream shot. We were very lucky to be able to take some bottles of the Quoin Rock wines home with us.
My knowledge of steak buying (Checkers in-house butcheries were highly recommended), steak ageing, sauce preparation, and steak grilling went from zero to 100 in a fun two-hour evening. And I have the Masterclass booklet with all the sauce recipes. A steal at the Steak Masterclass cost of R450 per person.
Rare Grill, 166 2nd Avenue, Kenilworth, Cape Town. Tel 076-460-0423 Facebook: Rare Grill. Instagram: @raregrillza Monday – Saturday.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide