What on earth is a spider steak? Carne's menu heroes rare meat cuts
At his two specialist meat restaurants in Cape Town, Giorgio Nava serves up steak cuts you'll rarely find elsewhere, in classic Italian style, writes Kit Heathcock
Giorgio Nava was an advocate of nose-to-tail eating long before it became a thing; it’s always been deeply rooted in the Italian tradition to make the most of each animal and let nothing go to waste.
At his two specialist meat restaurants, Carne on Keerom and Carne on Kloof, he presents steak cuts that you will rarely find elsewhere, in classic Italian style.
At a table for eight recently, Giorgio showed us a tray of different cuts including hanger, flat iron and spider steaks. These lesser-known cuts usually become burgers, he told us, but when carefully prepared, they are some of his favourite steaks to grill.
Spider steak is hard to get hold of, each animal only yields two portions, so it’s only on the menu at the Kloof Street restaurant. Another bonus is that these cuts are much more affordable than T-bone, sirloin and fillet.
But first our starters. Offal has always been treasured by the Italians as a nutritional powerhouse and a delicacy, and Giorgio does it well. We had succulent sweetbreads to mop up a light white wine and butter sauce. Then we scooped every last bit of marrow from split bones doused in sage butter, and sampled Giorgio’s classic lamb ravioli dressed simply in butter and sage – always well worth making space for, the sage crisp and fragrant.
As we tasted the various steaks, the subtle differences in flavour and texture were revealed. Hanger steak, from the belly, has a rich, almost gamey depth; the flat iron, from the shoulder, is closer textured and reminiscent of the best roast beef; and the spider steak, from around the hip, is marbled with a delicate web of fat that makes it tender, loose-textured and flavoursome.
Simply grilled on the Josper Charcoal Oven – seared at a high heat for that perfect braai finish, with good olive oil – the steaks were served with steamed broccoli and spinaci saltati.
Then came a final offal offering, the calf liver was also unbelievably good, prepared Venetian style, with onions braised in balsamic vinegar that are rich, savoury and melt in your mouth.
Accompanying Steenberg wines were a good match for the meat, especially the Catharina and the Nebbiolo. This was a steak night with a classic Italian difference.
This article was originally published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guides. Visit Yourneighbourhood.co.za