When it arrives, in waxed brown paper tied up with string and with a red PW seal and a traditional shopkeeper’s label, a delivery of wagyu beef from James Whelan butchers of Clonmel seems to be just about the best present a food lover could possibly have. Even before you have a taste, the eyes have feasted.
Of course, it’s only right that the beef should be presented as a luxury brand product: the wagyu striploins cost more than twice as much as the Angus striploins which Whelans sell, so we are dealing with what may be the priciest beef in Ireland.
Intensely marbled, the striploin steaks cook wonderfully well, and quickly, and slices beautifully. The striking flavour note is an umami savouryness, with notes of soy, Worchestershire sauce and tomato. But, even more than the flavour, what is striking is the texture: it’s foie gras smooth, and not just the meat itself, but also the ribbon of fat at the edge. It melts in the mouth, thanks to this incredible smoothness. Yes, it’s pricey, but for a special occasion, it is surely special.