Normally, it would be unthinkable to consume meat that’s over a few days old, but thanks to French butcher Alexandre Polmard it is actually possible to enjoy ‘vintage’ meats from cows that were butchered decades ago!
Polmard offers his customers the world’s most expensive meat, aged through ‘hibernation’, a special process that his grandfather and father invented in the 1990s. Cold air is blown over the meat at speeds of 120 kilometers per hour, in a -43 C environment, making the meat theoretically last forever. It will not rot with age, and will continue to taste fresh indefinitely.
Meat prepared through Polmard’s process obviously doesn’t come cheap. The 2000 vintage cote de boeuf (rib steak), for instance, costs about €3,000 ($3,200). The steep price not only covers the hibernation process, but also the cost of raising an exclusive breed of cattle called ‘Blonde Aquitaine’.
Pollard and his family raise the cattle outside the town of Saint Mihiel in the Meuse region of Lorraine, in northeastern France. “My family wouldn’t dream of raising animals in sheds where they have no space or room to roam,” he explained. “Here they are in the open air, living in forests and on parkland. There are shelters they can choose to visit in case it rains or snows. It’s really five-star accommodation!”
He also talks to his animals every day, to ensure that they remain stress-free and comfortable, right down to the very end. He explained that when a cow is stressed it results in higher levels of glycogen and lactic acid, making its meat flavorless and tough. So Polmard spends millions of dollars on infrastructure to take care of his cows, and ensures that only four cows are killed every week.
“All the love and attention we give our animals comes through on the plate when you taste it,” he said. “They are really unique.”
In fact, the amount of meat he produces is so small that the Polmard boucherie in Paris’ Germain des Pres quarter looks more like a vintage wine shop than a butcher shop. “I wanted to recreate the world of wine and shake up traditional butchery, seducing people once again to eat beef by offering them something exceptional,” he said. And it looks like customers do appreciate all the effort he puts into cultivating and preserving meat. There’s a long list of people who’ve put down their names months in advance to try some of the rarest, most aged meats.
Just like with wine, the different vintages that Polmard produces have different flavors and characteristics. The most exclusive and expensive cuts are reserved for a handful of Michelin-star chefs, but Polmard says he personally visits them to make sure they understand the nuances and subtleties of the meat.
One of the restaurants that serves the unique meat is Caprice, in Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel. ‘Polmard’s Rare Millesime Cote de Boeuf, Vintage 2000’ features on the restaurant’s seven-course lunch menu, priced at a whopping HK$5,500 ($700) per person. Interested?