Meat (!) Review: Carnivore Club

16 04 2016

[The following meat was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

We are living in a golden age of things you can get delivered to your house in a box on a monthly basis.  Whatever your inclination, there is probably a monthly mail subscription service for it.  Wine?  Naturally.  Tea?  Of course.  Last year I was part of one offering a regular postal helping of socks.

Meat?

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There is now.

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I know what you’re thinking:  (1) YES!!  MEAT IN THE MAIL!!! …and then, a couple seconds later, (2) …um, meat in the mail?  Can they DO that?  When the meat in question is salt-cured and vacuum-sealed and perfectly capable of remaining consumable after a multi-day cross-country trek, they certainly can.  “They” in this case is Carnivore Club, a phenomenally named meat curation agency that sources an incredible array of farm-to-table meats from an ever-rotating rolodex of local suppliers and puts them on your doorstop in a faux-wooden box.  For $50/month (including shipping), you get about as much meat as your arteries can handle on a monthly basis (in this particular case, it was about 2 pounds’ worth), all made with love from top-end sources.  Dreams really do come true.

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I have previously resisted samples that I have been offered that I can’t really tie back to wine or spirits in an obvious way, and I’ve tried to keep this blog pretty thematically consistent.  But I immediately jumped at the chance to try Carnivore Club’s wares, not only because no one had ever previously emailed me and said “we’d like to send you 2 pounds of free meat”, but also because cured meat and cheese with a bottle or three is about as close to food and drink nirvana as I get.  When thinking about pairing wine with cured meat, don’t get too technical, but remember that bold-flavoured food requires bold-flavoured wines and that spicy food with overly alcoholic or tannic wines can be a rough ride.  I like doing a complimentary match and using earthier or gamier reds, particularly from Spain, which have a symmetry of flavour with the meat and also aren’t obliterated by it.  Lots of good options out there though.

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The April Carnivore Club offering comes courtesy of Canadian artisanal sausage-maker Seed to Sausage, an Ontario-based old school throwback-style salumeria that focuses on simple, high-quality ingredients and that magical combination of meat, salt and time.  The box came with four different meaty offerings, ranging from about 150g to 375g — again, this is a LOT of meat — that ran the gamut of the carnivorous spectrum.  Since this is a review blog, my wife and I put the meat through a rigorous taste test and ranked our favourites, despite having absolutely no qualifications that would make you take our opinion seriously.  Nevertheless, here are the results of the first ever Pop & Pour Monthly Meat Face-Off:

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Meat #1:  Water Buffalo & Cranberry Salami

The Carnivore Club meat box comes with a cardboard program of sorts explaining the details of each package’s contents.  It advises that water buffalo tastes quite similar to lean beef, with a slightly gamey edge like venison.  I can attest to both these things.  The water buffalo meat was notably darker than the other salamis on offer and was chewy, leathery, rustic and peppery, with an explosion of soy sauce and other umami flavours.  I wasn’t sure how the cranberry would impact the meat, but it blended in beautifully, to the extent that I didn’t notice it separately at all, but just noticed how balanced the overall flavour of the meat was.  Even my 5 year-old was all over this.

Final Meat Rank:  #2 of 4

Meat #2:  Saucisson Sec

Arguably the most straightforward cured offering in the package, flavoured primarily only by garlic and pepper, this was a master class in “simple is better”, laser-focused on letting top ingredients shine.  It was slightly more dried than the water buffalo, with an impeccable toothsome texture and a kind of purity to its meaty, salty flavour that was irresistible.  This is seriously some of the best salami I have ever had.  I have had the Club package for like 48 hours and the Saucisson is almost gone.

Final Meat Rank:  #1 of 4

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Top to bottom:  Water Buffalo & Cranberry, Saucisson Sec, Calabrese, Lomo.

Meat #3:  Calabrese Salami

This one is probably a matter of personal preference.  I like a hit of spice in my meat but don’t particularly like when the heat interferes with the other flavours.  The fire in this one started slowly but built up to a slightly uncomfortable simmer that continued long after I swallowed.  The calabrese showcased a mealier texture and black olive and other ultra-savoury flavours beneath a rather chewy casing.  On pizza, or as one component of a combined dish, it would rock; by itself, it was a little palate-dominant.

Final Meat Rank:  #4 of 4

Meat #4:  Lomo

Lomo?  Lomo.  Yunno?  No no.  I had no earthly idea what lomo was before it showed up in the box, but it turns out to be an entire pork tenderloin, heartily coated in a taso rub (a Cajun-style cayenne- and paprika-based spice mixture) and cured whole.  Getting an entire pork tenderloin in a cardboard box in my mailbox confirmed my suspicions that writing a blog was a good idea.  I sort of wrecked my first lomo experience by slicing off a thick hunk of it and chowing down; as it turns out, lomo is almost hyperactively salty and is far better sliced thin and eaten in moderation.  Use it as you would prosciutto and you’ll do just fine.  It’s rich and luxurious, with a tremendously smooth texture and a lasting flavour, but too much of it in one bite will ruin you.

Final Meat Rank:  #3 of 4

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And that was just April — next month, Carnivore Club is off to a whole new local supplier and another completely different range of salted meats.  This was one of the most interesting and enjoyable culinary experiences I’ve had, and certainly the best one I’ve ever pulled out of my mailbox, so if meat is your thing, this is a worthy investment.

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2 responses

28 12 2016
nick davis

I was extremely disappointed with Carnivore Club. Both their product and their service. I ordered the Christmas Box as a Christmas gift for my girlfriend. It was the only thing she asked for. When we opened it, we found that the packaging on one of the sausage spreads had failed and that oil saturated all of the other products in the box. When i reached out to Carnivore Club’s service department they told me that there was only an issue with one of the products (the sausage spread) and so they would replace that product and give me a $5 credit for the next box that I ordered. So in essence, they didn’t recognize that any of the other oil soaked products had any issues and then asked me to spend another $50 with them. No thanks. Wouldn’t recommend.

28 12 2016
petervetsch

Thanks for sharing, and sorry you had a rough experience. The items in my sample box all held together and were packaged securely, but sucks that they wouldn’t do more for you. Cheers, Peter

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