The story of Rubia Gallega
Twelve years ago, my Belgian-Spanish friend Jean-Paul Perez introduced me to Spanish meat. And what a world of difference – because they have old cows and oxen, in some cases 14 to 18 years old, which pack exceptional flavour.
This opened a whole new world to me and also completely changed my ideas about what I do. In the past, we used to slaughter heifers, cows that have calved once, and maidens, cows that have never been with a bull.
While I was in Spain, I ate meat that tasted almost like cheese. Meat that had been aged for 150 days. I remember taking a TV team to El Capricho in Jiménez de Jamuz, where a guy called José had oxen, called buey, that were 18 and even 21 years old. We discovered the best meat ever in the middle of nowhere! Our main mission is to find the right meat and the right suppliers.
These days, meat is transported from eastern Europe to Spain, after which it returns to our country only to be sold as ‘Spanish meat’. I don’t have an issue with eastern European meat, but I want to be sure that I’m getting a proper terroir product. I demand complete transparency when I purchase something to sell in my shop.
The Rubia Gallegas we buy are selected especially for us. These are often large cattle, with nice marbling and a dark colour. The meat of this pure breed is not very marbled but it is very dense, meaning it can be aged for ten weeks.
I usually recommend Rubia meat to seasoned meat lovers. Sometimes it almost tastes like liver.