Thursday, December 22, 2011

Flap vs Skirt.....The Horror!

Last Monday we had a customer send back his Mesquite Grilled "Skirt" steak in a rage....because it was patently NOT a skirt steak.

He would not eat such an abomination, wouldn't pay for it, and was taking it home to his dog. And...... he wants to have a long talk with me about meat.

He has a meat company, you see.....

Not sure how he figured all that out, but he was right. We serve a "Flap" steak, not a "Skirt".
At the same time, during the same meal service, another customer was having our "Skirt" steak. The next day, her husbandcalled me up....(Oh, Jesus, no!)...and kept me on the phone for 30 minutes going on about how it was the best piece of meat he or his wife had ever eaten.


So here's the deal: we are the Cachagua Store.

We are in Cachagua, not Manhattan, or Paris, or even Carmel. We bust our balls
to give nice food at a nice price....and with luck......only moderately hostile and incompetent service.

If you actually want to know
everything about every ingredient in our menu go to and you can see all our sources.

On the other hand, if you are at a table, in Cachagua...with Heather or Shavaun taking your order....time is of the essence. We are the culinary Dutch boys with our fingers in the holes in the dike. There is not a lot of time for education and explanation...and we hope that there might be at least some degree of trust in a diner that has driven 45 minutes into the mountains to eat.

We sometimes lie.

As do all restaurants, butchers, fishmongers and grocers. Lying about your food is not a crime...since none
of the food from any of the above is packaged. Lying about your food is bad, but it is not a crime. As a diner or shopper you can get redress through the courts...but with a civil lawsuit, not through poor beleaguered Sheriff Miller.

And, should you be successful in your lawsuit, you will only be entitled to the difference between what was promised and what was served or sold. So, if Whole Foods sells you farmed salmon worth $5 a pound instead of Scottish wild at $15, you can sue them for the ten bucks........assuming you have paid the $200 for the lab processing of the DNA sample to prove your case.

(I have the address of the lab if you want
to go this route. I have done it, and no one cares. Well, Sam Farr cares...DiFi, Boxer, Potter, Maldonado, Bill the Thrill Monning and the other poseurs representing us could care less...but that is another story).

Ditto Sand Dabs.....No one in Monterey serves real Sand is all frozen shite from China. We serve real Sand Dabs...and we can only get them once or twice a month. We pay $2 a pound....less than the frozen shite you are buying at your corner bistro. If you sue them for misrepresenting your dish, you will have to pay them a few dollars if you win. Real sand dabs are cheaper than fake sand dabs.


Anyway...back to flaps and skirts.

Back in my soccer coach life I found that I had to become a certified trainer just to keep my kids on the field. Most were Mexican kids with no hope of ever seeing a medical doctor, or Carmel kids with no hope of ever seeing a medical doctor. I became a certified sports massage therapist at M.I.T....Monterey Insitute of Touch. (Highly recommended).

I also am a recovering body builder (hey....she was really hot! And smart!)....and a life-long Latin speaker. Catholic. Altar boy. And a recovering apprentice union butcher in New York City.

Anatomy is the main deal in massage and sports medicine...and butchery. We humans, and our companion animals, are just big, soft Erector-Sets.

And..... all meats from all animals have been organized by union labor into a series of codes....... defining each cut and each section of anatomy involved. Each code has been laboriously pounded out on the battlefield
of worker vs. grower vs. processor vs. consumer. NAMP codes. North American Meat Processors Association

For instance...a filet of beef is a NAMP 1190. With the silverside off it is an 1190a. Center cut filet, silverside off is 1190b. Lamb rack chops are 1204b...and the bone cannot be more than 3 inches from the eye. When I first came to California I would saw off the extra bones on my lamb racks and send them back for credit....everyone was amazed, and stopped selling me lamb racks.

You will not be shocked to know that none of these codes apply in California....... where almost all meats are
processed by non-union labor.....who could not identify the codes in English numbers.... with a gun to their heads.

Back to beef.

Our most famous Central Coast only cut of beef is the tri-tip. We locals are all bored with tri-tip, but it doesn't actually exist
outside of California, and a few places in Texas where vacationing Texans have brought it back. This is crazy, because tri-tip is clearly a NAMP 185c or 185d......available, in theory, to all union meatcutters all over the world.

In New York City it was known as a Newport, because union butchers all smoked Newports and the Newport logo is a triangle. And the tri-tip presents as a triangle.

The tri-tip is one of my favorite cuts of beef...and one of my favorite muscle names: tensor fascia lata. I love saying "tensor fascia lata".

Tensor fascia lata is your hip runs between your oblique muscles on your lower torso and your upper thigh. It attaches at your illiac crest and inserts in the IT band that runs down the outside of your thigh. The IT Band is the one where the massage therapist puts in her elbow and you scream like a little pig.....

Now...on to skirts and flaps.

The skirt steak is either the straight diaphram muscle of the cow, with the peritoneum removed (outside skirt), or more commonly the inside skirt, which is the transversus abdominus. This is NAMP code 121c or 121d.

The TVA, as body-builders know it, attaches at the lower six ribs, the illiac crest, and inserts down at your pubis. If you want to work your TVA you move
your belly button in to your spine...without sucking in. Hold it, and feel the burn. The TVA helps with breathing by contracting to inhale, and expanding to exhale.

The flap, on the other hand, is the obliquus abdominus internus. Flap is NAMP code 185a. Flap, or rather, obiquus abdominus internus, has a Facebook page!

Bodybuilders call it the OI. Here is the bodybuilder take on ab muscles.....

It, the muscle....not the Facebook page..... is located right next to the TVA. It runs from the lower four ribs, the illiac crest, and down to the pubis.
It also helps with inhaling and exhaling, and also helps turn and flex the torso.

Sound familiar?

It does also attach at the lumbodorsal fascia...around by your lower back. And it nestles next to our old friend tensor fascia lata.

When removed from
the cow (or the human) it is collected with the lower back and upper leg muscles....and it actually flaps.

It's very near neighbor, the skirt, is typically trimmed out when the filet and the other upper
body muscles are removed.

Both the flap and the skirt attach to the inguinal ligament in in "pucker up"....pull in your balls!

Finally...Americans are dicks when it comes to language. We like short names. Pommard as opposed to Savigny-Les-Vergelesses. Chateau Du Cru Beaucaillou only became popular when hedge fund dickheads started calling it DuCru.

Pinot is so much easier to say then Cabernet. Forget Zinfandel. Probably socialist.

Flap is a short name...but a horrible name. The other name for the cut is "Bavette". This sounds like a sleazy French guy trying to sell you cow balls and assholes with a fancy name....and you would not be far wrong. "Bavette" names a half dozen different cuts in France.

And.....our flap is Akaushi.

With us, even though there are a dozen varieties of Wagyu beef, and we serve Akaushi...we will sometimes call it "Kobe"..........just to not have the conversation about the differences.

like "Kobe". Akaushi sounds scary, and probably socialist, like the Zinfandel.

And by the way, good Zinfandel is awesome with Akaushi.

Obama probably likes it.

Obliquus Abdominalis Internus opposed to "Kobe Skirt"?

Shut up. you know all about the difference between "flap" and "skirt".

Do you want to hear all this when you are out with your honey?.....

Or do you want to just enjoy your experience...... and trust your friends....and their expertise?

In Ireland we say: "Why have a dog and bark yourself?"

We will take care of the anatomy, the Latin, the politics....and it will be delicious.