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Tell me everything about Florentine steak

Tell me everything about Florentine steak

Old Jun 9th, 2009, 04:35 PM
  #21  
 
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"The waiters at Peter Luger's don't laugh at my mother-in-law when she orders here steak well-done"

Sure they do. You just don't see them because they know how to be discreet.

Can anyone name Peter Luger's chef?

Peter Luger's is quite accustomed to serving the "well done" folk. They're in business to make money and they're not a food-snob operation. If the Don and his brainless goomah wants their steak well done, that's how they will serve it.

"there is no reason an Italian chef should be offended by a special order"

There are plenty of reasons and American diners aren't the only tacky, demanding idiots who travel to Italy. But restaurant owners in Italy know that they must feed the tourists and, sometimes, that means tolerating their silly requests.
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Old Jun 9th, 2009, 10:18 PM
  #22  
 
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There are plenty of reasons and American diners aren't the only tacky, demanding idiots who travel to Italy.

There is nothing tacky about ordering your meat how you want it. Despite any pretense they may want to hide behind, there is nothing particularly special about cooking a Florentine steak. Am I going to go into El Bulli and tell them how to cook my food? Of course not. But that is a far cry from asking that they keep your meat on the coals a bit longer.

My point is simply that there is no art to Florentine steak. Any chef that gets offended about a well-done order on a simple steak has an overly inflated opinion of what they are doing. They may, indeed, have such an opinion of their work, but it doesn't mean that we have to validate it.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 02:05 AM
  #23  
 
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After 12 years of living in Italy and much of that time spent in Tuscany, I would most certainly NOT ask for my bistecca alla fiorentina well-done. I am not surprised that a NY steakhouse won't mind, but you are not setting yourself up for a pleasant dining experience in Italy.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 02:58 AM
  #24  
 
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I didn't think there would be any point joining in another U.S. versus European beef discussion, but as travelgourmet keeps keeps showing him/herself to be wonderfully misnomered (well the gourmet part anyway) I felt I just had to wade in.

By saying "My point is simply that there is no art to Florentine steak." you're showing yourself to be quite a long way from being a gourmet. The Florentine steak is well known, not due to the cut of meat, but the cattle from which it is taken. In much the same way as a Wagyu beef, the 'special' nature of it is due to the cow, not the cut.

You're absolutely right to say that if a customer wants a steak well done they should have it, but then there's absolutely no point in searching out a steak purportedly famous for its tenderness and flavour in order to remove these two elements from it through overcooking.

As you mention El Bulli (no doubt to enforce your 'gourmet' credentials) I will too. Asking for a Florentine steak well done (no matter what you think of the quality of the meat) would be like going to El Bulli and dowsing every dish in tomato ketchup. It's absolutely your right to do so if you wish, but it completely negates the point of seeking out food that is different (and some would say superior) to what can be found in an average restaurant.

kasialouise - if you absolutely want to eat a well-done Florentine steak during your holiday, go for it.

It won't be the first or last time time the waiter will have been asked asked for one and if it's something you've always wanted to do, do it. Ask for a doggy bag too.

Whilst not common to be supplied at the average European restaurant, I'm sure many florentine restaurants will have supplied them for tourists in the past and if the waiter shows any disdain or puts on airs, ignore it. When you're back home after doing some of the things you've always wanted to do (including eat a well-done florentine steak) a couple of minutes of awkwardness due to a snooty waiter on the other side of the world will the last thing you'll remember.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 03:34 AM
  #25  
 
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O agree with Jay.

. If the steak is a true Florentine steak, it comes from Chianina catle which are grass fed, like most steaks in Italy. So it dries out much quicker than a grain-fed steak and will be leathery if cooked much past rare. If it is a Chianina steak it will probably be indicated don the menu. Many "Florentine" steaks are imported these days, but the same caveats apply to any grass fed beef.

One place I like for moderately priced bistecca is Cambi,in the Oltrarno, south of the river.

You probably know this,but these steaks will be priced per hundred grams.

Locals will not take home the leftovers, but I see no reason why you should not ask if you want them.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 04:25 AM
  #26  
 
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The Florentine steak is well known, not due to the cut of meat, but the cattle from which it is taken.

You are confusing the artist. In the case of Florentine steak, the artist isn't the chef, the artist is the rancher, with an assist from the cow and the grass. The act of cooking the steak is the easy part and can, frankly, be done by just about anybody.

The fact that sourcing the meat is 95% or more of the work in making a great steak is why steakhouse chains are so successful, and why nobody can name (or even care about) the "chef" at Peter Luger's. I like steak. A lot. But I'm under no illusion as to the skill it requires to cook it.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 05:02 AM
  #27  
 
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travelgourmet - there's absolutely no confusion in my mind, but your attempt to come off as overbearing and superior has been successful. Again you seem to be confusing what qualifies a Florentine steak as one. Nobody is questioning how to cook a steak, rather if there's a point to cooking a fine piece of beef to a point where it lacks almost all moisture and flavour.

Also, your qualification of a rancher as an artist is incredibly overblown and misses the point entirely. I'm not going to even address this bizarre notion as it's merely serving to distract from the point at hand which was you as a 'gourmet' advocating the overcooking of a piece of meat that is know for its flavour and tenderness.

Also the reason that steakhouse chains are so successful (in some countries anyway) is not solely due to where they source their meat from, but also familiarity, unadventurous diners and the attraction of of knowing no matter where you go into one, the menu and food will be the same. Many consumers prefer to return to gigantic chain restaurants, over individual privately-owned establishments as they know what they're getting and they like it that way.

Because Bud light is the best selling beer in America, does this make it the most flavoursome, delicious beer you can buy? And whilst you might enjoy a Bud Light from time to time (you might do, I certainly wouldn't) you would be hard pushed to say it has the same level of flavour and complexity as most real ales. Whilst one is arguably superior to the other, both can be enjoyed on their own merits but there would be little point chilling a bottle of decent ale in a bucket full of ice to almost zero degrees, even though this is pretty standard practice for Bud Light.

The same rules (only substitute overcooking for ice) apply for 'good' and 'bad' pieces of beef.

Like most blokes, I like steak and beer but know the difference between good and bad examples of both.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 05:19 AM
  #28  
 
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TG: If the artist is the rancher (??) there are a lot of artists from Spain and the Balkans, because that is where much of the "Florentine meat" comes from these days!
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 08:56 AM
  #29  
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Wow. Quite a discussion. Thank you to all. One of our party of 4 just wanted to know...we were not planning on offending anyone...that's why I asked. I had an interest in what makes the steak so famous, now I have an idea.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 09:01 AM
  #30  
 
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The Florentine steak is good, but it isn't the Cat's Meow.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 09:03 AM
  #31  
 
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We ordered the steak once in a very tiny village near Montalcino and it was fabulous - almost enough to feed two adults and two teenage boys so you can imagine the size! we thought it was well worth the cost at the time and looking over a small village square, church and vineyards beyond was priceless as they say. I asked a local butcher about florentine steak near chicago and he told me that he didn't carry it because nobody would pay the price but he could special order it - its not just the cut of meat but the entire experience - i don't think you'd get anyone there to cook it 'well done' however
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 09:21 AM
  #32  
 
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You know I love a good food fight, but I had no idea this would turn into war! When I said I did not want to "step on toes", I meant it. My intention is to encourge what ever nationality to "leave it home", and love where you are and be open and tolerant. A closed mind is a terrible thing.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 09:35 AM
  #33  
 
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Crisco - I couldn't agree more, a closed mind is indeed a terrible thing and it's that that sometimes gets my back up on this forum.

The pontificating of some members on this site who are supposedly well travelled, experienced people really annoys me, particularly when they attempt to stand as arbiters of taste and decency and decree what is right and wrong.

Apologies for highjacking this thread, but I sometimes feel the need to take such people down a peg or two (particularly when they're talking out of their hats) and would expect the same in return if I was to ever behave in a similar manner.

kasialouise - don't forget to let us know how that steak tastes and if it does live up to the 'hype'.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 09:36 AM
  #34  
 
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"There is nothing tacky about ordering your meat how you want it."

If your taste or in this case tastebuds are tacky, I call it as I see it. Of course, some people believe the customer is always right, no matter what I think.

"I had no idea this would turn into war!"

Such hyperbole. I thought this thread was an interesting read.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 09:42 AM
  #35  
 
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nothing more to say on the debate that hasn't already been said, except that we really enjoyed the bistecca fiorentina at Buca Mario.
Piazza Degli Ottaviani, 16/R
50123 Firenze (FI), Italy
We also enjoyed the limoncello they so graciously offered us after the meal
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 09:48 AM
  #36  
 
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...there's absolutely no point in searching out a steak purportedly famous for its tenderness and flavour in order to remove these two elements from it through overcooking.

It simply can't be said any more succinctly than this. Kudos to Jay_G!
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 10:26 AM
  #37  
 
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you as a 'gourmet' advocating the overcooking of a piece of meat that is know for its flavour and tenderness.

I never advocated overcooking anything. I was simply saying that one should order it how they want it and not worry about upsetting the sensibilities of the chef. Despite your protestations otherwise, it is actually you who are attempting to decree what is right or wrong here, not me. I'm saying eat it how you want it, tradition or expectations be damned. It certainly isn't the way I would order it (I like my meat moo-ing), but if you like a well-done steak, then order it well-done.

the attraction of of knowing no matter where you go into one, the menu and food will be the same

And this sameness is practical because cooking a steak does not require virtuoso skill. As long as the chain can source enough meat, it is easy to export the concept to 50+ restaurants. Chef-based (for lack of a better term) restaurants don't travel nearly as well, as the creativity and skill of the chef cannot so easily be duplicated.
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Old Jun 11th, 2009, 04:55 AM
  #38  
 
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Robespierre - thanks for the kudos.

travelgourmet - ...and so it goes on. Let's see if we can't put a fork in this argument and consider it 'done'.

If someone asks "should I order a well done steak" and you respond "order it how [you] want", you're advocating the overcooking of the piece of meat.

If you go back through the posts above, you'll see that I don't attempt to decree anything (as suggested in your latest post) and am not trying to tell people what is right or wrong. To paraphrase, I say that it doesn't make much sense to me to order a well-done steak, but if kasialouise wants to, she should.

Essentially we're saying the same thing, we just went about it in very different ways, so if you agree, I think this part of the discussion can come to an end.

I still take issue with your assertion that "sourcing the meat is 95% or more of the work in making a great steak is why steakhouse chains are so successful" and give you Starbucks as prime example of why this isn't true. Often placing very low in consumer taste-test results (at least in this sceptred isle) Starbucks is still a hugely successful chain and proves that being successful sometimes has very little to do with the quality and flavour of the product being sold. McDonald's anyone?

And whilst I have little argument with the last paragraph you wrote I still think there's more to creating and developing a nationwide chain of anything than merely having enough product.
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Old Jun 11th, 2009, 05:19 AM
  #39  
 
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The point about the steak house is this:

I am pretty sure that I could walk in off the street and, within a week or two, be pretty adept as a "chef" at a steak house. I can't say the same thing about most other restaurants.

Indeed, anyone that can handle the stress and pace of a commercial kitchen could probably be a "chef" at a steak house. The ability to put just about anyone behind the grill is why steak house chains are successful at offering the same thing at diverse locations. It simply isn't very hard to grill a piece of meat, whether it is Florentine or US Prime or Kobe. There is probably more skill needed to make a salad dressing than to cook a steak.
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Old Jun 11th, 2009, 06:29 AM
  #40  
 
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travelgourmet - you should have begun your latest post with the phrase "the point about the steak house is NOW this"

You've conveniently ignored all the other points in my previous post which serve to rebuke and rebuff many of your previous statements, as well as my offering of an olive branch.

The argument was never about chefs' skill levels despite your constant attempts to turn it into one, with this last desperate attempt to salvage some credibility a prime example. It's an interesting debating strategy to answer a question that has never been asked in an attempt to prove a point.

It also again brings into question your name. Whilst you mention all the right foodie buzzwords, 'sourcing', 'El Bulli' etc. your constant defence of restaurants (and I use that term lightly, much in the way McDonald's does) that by your own admission only employ "chefs" (inverted commas are your own insertion) smacks of someone trying to be something they're not.

Anyone who dismisses the standard of European beef (much less lumps all European beef together into one homogenous unit) is a long way from being a gourmet, travel or otherwise.
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