|Photo by Christina Staalstrom|
From the moment you meet Pablo Liberato you sense that here is someone who is truly passionate about his meat. As the owner of Gaucho Ranch
, this self-proclaimed health enthusiast spends his day touting the benefits of grass fed meat. No hormones, no antibiotics, no grain. "Our cattle eat only what nature intended; grass, clover, wild flowers". Who knew cattle liked clover? Pablo does. He also knows just about everything else you would like to know about cows and makes sure his customers are educated consumers. There are binders of articles, electronic newsletters, informational posters on the wall and even the inside packaging has "Food and Health Conscious Links". Operating out of a small warehouse in North Miami they make big claims, but do they deliver? That's what we are here to find out.
The meat comes from the grassy pampas
of Uruguay (hence grass
fed) and is "wet" aged as opposed to the traditional dry aging process.
This basically means that instead of the carcass hanging from the
ceiling cut open to bleed dry the way you see in those gangster movies,
it's vacuum packed and "ages" in its' own juices without any direct air
contact for 30-40 days.
Gaucho Ranch offers a wide variety of cuts, none on the bone,
because turns out you can't import any meat on the bone due to
foot-and-mouth disease. Not to be confused with foot-in-mouth, which is
what happens when you ask a meat purveyor if they sell anything besides
meat...meaning chicken, fish, goat. They do not...their selection is
large and includes both full cuts of meat and individual portions of
beef and pork, as well as organic chorizo and blood sausage.
Pablo's initial vision was to supply restaurants and
grocery outlets with high-end offerings. However today most of the
business consists of supplying local restaurants, a few markets like Norman Brothers
and a large
online community nationally. The Gaucho Grill Boutique/Retail Warehouse
is a new concept and an interesting one. You can get anything from a DVD
on how to prepare your own "asado", a variety of grill tools, t-shirts,
mate cups and even a book on the benefits of eating grass-fed meat.
The boutique has gained some traction over the last year with regulars, who
come back for their weekly fixes. This could also be because they hold an
Asado held every other Friday with Don Julio behind the grill. No, he doesn't make the tequila, rather he's a charismatic local grill master who makes a
killer chimichurri (also for sale). The asados are by invitation only
for existing customers so this carnivore was quick to sign up and make a
selection for purchase.
There was a lot of back and forth as to
what a home cook should try and in the end, we went with Pablo's
recommendation of the ribeye. "It has the most flavor because it is
pure clean muscle with some fat".We love fat so we had a winner.
home, the ribeye marinated
with some olive oil and sea salt. In the pan the meat induced some serious hunger pains. Medium-rare with
Don Julio's chimichurri on the side, it was tender and full of
clean yet rich flavor. Add some mate, a gaucho and it's pure heaven.