“Normal grass-fed beef is darker; this is lighter,” Jason Tuley, chef at Square One, explained. “It’s different from New Zealand grass-fed beef, which is grassier.” Tuley was describing Estancia Beef from Uruguay that can only be had in Santa Barbara at Square One (14 E. Cota St., 965-4565). The stuff is a green-thinking, meat-eater’s dream, free of hormones and antibiotics, seasonal, and incredibly tasty. It’s slightly chewy but tender, too, and Tuley cooks it perfectly, seared yet barely approaching medium rare. After all, if you’re going to eat meat, you should taste it. Estancia is also available in Los Angeles (Table 8, Josie’s), San Francisco (Michael Mina), and other fine restaurants in Napa, Sonoma, etc. However, if you want to see what beef is like not pumped up on grains and drugs, you have to try Tuley’s braised rib round with English pea cappuccino in a cup with Parmesan froth, a meal perched on winter going into spring, as the chef put it. Even better, Estancia is better for you, as, according to its Web site, it has about half the fat and cholesterol of grain fed-beef and is high inomega-3 fatty acids.


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