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Is This the Best Beef in the World?

Galician beef

Galician beef is hot right now.  

Informed steak enthusiasts from coast to coast know that Canadian grilling beef has never been better. Whether your preference is for young, clean and bright-tasting grass-fed beef with a fine fibre or for the fatty corn- nourished stuff, dry-aged to its Stilton-accented perfection, the catalogue of top-quality options is too lengthy to enumerate here. But there is something big we do not have covered.

Specifically, where do you go when you have a hankering for a hunk of retired dairy cow, aged in her late teens?

Such a desire may sound like anathema to Canadian consumers accustomed to equating quality grilling beef with steer, not cow— and at that, nice young ones aged around 20 months, not 20 years. But in Galicia, Spain, such cuts from dairy cows and old Galician Blond steer alike are a delicacy. It is treasured for its mild chewiness, great fat content and unusually deep, rich flavour. So over the last couple of years, Galician beef has become the biggest thing in beef in the world dining capital of London, too.

You’ll find Galician beef at excellent Spanish restaurants like Donostia and Lurra. Other, British-cuisine restaurants are getting in on it, too—like Mayfair hotspot Kitty Fisher’s, which sells a Galician rib steak for two for £90. Michelin-starred chef Stephen Harris is selling a local version (old British dairy cows) at his country pub, The Sportsman, in Kent. And among others, further afield, Magnus Nilsson has the Galician product on the menu at his legendary Fäviken, in Sweden.

Here, of course, we know better—and rather than dispatch our old dairy cows to one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, we grind them up into cheap hamburger and pet food.