Monday, September 15, 2014

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Zagat: Jonty Jacobs Offers South African Specialties in NYC

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From Capetown to Christopher Street—one woman's pregnancy cravings led her to open a shop all about a unique South African beef jerky. Zagat editor James Mulcahy filed the following report for NY1.

Biltong is a beef jerky that's popular in South Africa, and we visited a new shop that's bringing it to New York for the first time.

Introducing Jonty Jacobs, a grab and go shop that specializes in this unique beef product, which is widely available in South Africa. 

"I have always missed biltong. I've done some Googling and kind of looking around to find it and I couldn't find anything—I was shocked. And then when I fell pregnant, those first trimester cravings kicked in, and it really just put me over the edge. So it was really a passion project to start my own biltong brand. The goal of biltong is for it to retain that flavor and moisture, as opposed to beef jerky, which dries it out," says owner Monique St. Luce.

The signature dish here is nothing like American beef jerky. The tender strips are served without chemicals or preservatives, and the curing process leaves moisture within the meat.

"We use no sodium nitrate, no chemicals and no preservatives. We take beautiful strips of beef, which are rubbed in vinegar and select spices, and then it's hung to naturally cure," St. Luce says.

Customers order by the pound and the strips are served in bags. You'll end up eating the stuff by the fistful, especially if you opt for a few sprinkles of the shop's custom made spice blend.

"So I think the best place to start is the regular beef, traditional cut—which are these lovely slices we have here. This has a thin layer of fat and has been put through a traditional South African biltong cutter," St. Luce says.

In addition to the biltong and other cured meats like South African dried beef sausage, the shop serves a variety of imported goods that were brought to Christopher Street via Capetown.  

"It's not only about biltong. It's about coming and getting that South African experience that's just not available in New York," St. Luce says. 

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