Ever heard of biltong? I didn't think so, but as a general dried and cured meat enthusiast, I'm happy to report that South Africa has the global beef jerky game nailed down. As far as I know, there's only one place to get this meaty goodness in the U.S., and that's at Jonty Jacobs, New York City beef boutique with a robust mail-order business.
Jonty Jacobs was founded by South African native Monique Daniels. Underwhelmed by the jerky and sausages available stateside when she moved to New York, Daniels decided to bring the best-tasting, natural dried beef — as in no preservatives or nitrates — to the American people.
"I wasn't impressed with cured beef products available, mainly because they didn't taste like beef! The goal of Jonty Jacobs is to provide an all-natural range that tastes like a good steak. I want to maintain the meat's natural goodness, not dry it out," says Daniels.
On a recent visit to Jonty Jacobs' Christopher Street location, I found the fresh, unpackaged biltong to be my favorite — on par with some of the best charcuterie I've had. The packaged versions, while slightly drier, were also fantastic, and the extra-dried variety was arguably the best beef jerky I've ever had ("extra-dried" still has more moisture than most beef jerky). The real winners, though, were the droewors: delicious fatty little beef sausage sticks that put Slim Jims out to pasture. I wouldn't mind eating those every day with a great craft beer on the side.
The only drawback? This stuff is expensive — pricier than you might even see at specialty gourmet shops. Biltong ranges in price from $35 per pound for the regular beef to $85 for the aged variety, so strap on your spending shoes if you've got 'em because as I said, it's DELICIOUS.
Don't have the spending shoes for the world's "steakiest" beef jerky? Worry not, treats are still in store: Jonty Jacob offers sausage sandwiches that won't break the bank but will fill you up with equally meaty goodness, featuring a menu developed by South African chef and entrepreneur Hugo Uys. Try the boerewors sandwich: sausage and tangy peach chutney on a bun. It's reminiscent of a classic hot dog with sweet and vinegar flavors from ketchup and mustard, with a distinctly exotic twist.
114 Christopher St.
New York, NY 10014
Online store: jontyjacobs.com
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