The Rare Finds Gift Guide: Crowd Cow Olive Wagyu

The Rare Finds Gift Guide: Crowd Cow Olive Wagyu
The Rare Finds Gift Guide: Crowd Cow Olive Wagyu

When it comes to holiday gifting, there are times where you just feel the need to swing for the fences.

Perhaps you’ve got a big client that you’re very much “looking forward to continuing business with in the coming year.” Perhaps you’ve got a significant other who has resigned you to a doghouse you’d like to emerge from sooner rather than later. Perhaps you’ve just had a helluva year (or several) and money just ain’t no object.

Any way you slice it, you’re in need of a true showstopper of a gift. Not only something of truly superlative quality, but something with a story — something the recipient can crow about whenever someone invariably inquires “damn, where did you get that??

And thus we bring you the Rare Finds Gift Guide, a handy compendium of holiday swag for just about any type of person on your list (or, perhaps, if you’re just in the market for yourself — no judgement).

This installment concerns Japanese Olive Wagyu beef from Crowd Cow, arguably the most mythical steak to ever come out of Japan.

What Makes It So Darn Special?

Well, for starters, this is straight up the rarest (pardon the double entendre) beef on planet earth. Olive Wagyu is raised on only a handful of farms in and around Shodoshima Island in Japan’s smallest prefecture, Kagawa.

Kagawa is tiny (roughly half the size of Long Island, for reference) and geographically remote, and thus its cattle farmers were struggling to compete with brands like Kobe that come from larger prefectures nearer to major port cities. In 2006, a farmer by the name of Masaki Ishii had an interesting idea to help the Wagyu farmers of Kagawa: olives.

You see, Kagawa is one of the few places in Japan to successfully cultivate olives, and Ishii-san theorized that the area’s little green bounty could be utilized as a special cattle feed that would have a favorable (and difficult to duplicate) effect on the flavor of the meat.

It’s a healthy, flavorful beef that’s very different from any other Wagyu, and yet the same in terms of that rich marbling that’s so well known in Japan.

Crowd Cow Founder Joe Heitzeberg

After developing a method for toasting olive pulp to make it palatable for the cattle, Ishii-san began to test his theory, and, well, turns out he couldn’t have been more right: the olive pulp diet resulted in beef with massive amounts of marbling and high levels of oleac acid, a heart-healthy fat that gives Olive Wagyu beef the intense “melt in your mouth” Umami flavor it has become renowned for.

Today, Kagawa’s farmers preside over just 2,000 Olive Wagyu cattle, the entirety of their kind in the entire world, and only a few are harvested each month — this stuff is so rare that many people in Japan have never heard of it.

And up until very recently, it has never been available in the United States. Crowd Cow founder Joe Heitzeberg journeyed to Shodoshima personally to meet with the area’s farmers (Ishii-san included) and bring their legendary beef to American for the first time.

Who’s It For?

Anyone who enjoys red meat, really, but particularly those who fancy themselves experts in the steak game — it is a virtual guarantee that they will not have even heard of it let alone tasted it, and even the snobbiest aficionado will not be able to deny that the flavor is unparalleled.

Anything Else Worth Mentioning?

Most people’s experience with Wagyu beef begins and ends with steaks — and while those are most certainly on offer, it bears noting that Crowd Cow also offers an Olive Wagyu packer brisket. Anyone with a smoker and a lick of common sense would do well to jump on this immediately, as we’re essentially talking about the holy grail of barbecue.

Ok So What’s the Damage?

Prices vary according to the cut, with striploin and brisket going off for around seven bucks an ounce, all the way up to tenderloin for an admittedly jarring twenty bucks an ounce. However, it bears noting that this is a fraction of what you’d pay in a restaurant, and good luck finding a restaurant with Olive Wagyu on the menu anyway. And once you (we’re presuming you insist the recipient invite you over to enjoy the delicacy with them) taste it, you will not wonder where the money went.

See the Rest of the Rare Finds:

Crown Royal XR

Crown Royal XR Extra Rare, the second edition to the storied Canadian brand’s Extra Rare series, is crafted from one of the final barrels of whisky saved from the now ghost LaSalle distillery.

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02

To mark the model’s 55th anniversary, TAG Heuer’s flagship Carrera line is being driven by the brand’s premium, Swiss-made in-house column wheel chronograph movement, the Heuer 02, for the first time.

Max Poglia Knives

Using reclaimed agricultural tools, rare woods and ethically-sourced animal horn/bone from his native Brazil, Brooklyn knifesmith Max Poglia is crafting handsome, one-of-a-kind knives that are equal parts art and function.

SAVED Cashmere

With a journey that begins on the steppes of Mongolia and ends in an NYC design studio, SAVED proffers ultra-soft cashmere throws, pillows, blankets, hats, and scarves — all featuring the sort of punchy, voguish designs one might expect to catch in the background of a Wes Anderson film.

AdrianMartinus Design

Helmed by two Canadian brothers in the heart of Alberta, AdrianMartinus focuses on gorgeous furniture and home goods painstakingly crafted from a very interesting type of reclaimed wood: old skateboards.

Franco Snowshapes Custom Snowboards

In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, legendary shaper Mikey Franco and his team are building snowboards in a way no one else in America does: by hand, specifically tailored to each and every client from the ground up.

Gateway Bronco Restorations

The first generation Ford Bronco is one of the most beloved SUVs of all time, unchanged from 1966 to 1977. Illinois outfit Gateway Bronco reigns supreme in the restomod game, hunting down these classics and meticulously restoring/refurbishing them to new levels of glory.

McHale Alpine Packs

There is no piece of equipment more essential to mountaineering than the humble backpack. And no one makes them quite like Dan McHale, a veteran climber who’s been making bespoke ultralight packs out of a workshop in Seattle for more than 40 years.

Atelier Savas Leather Goods

Plying her trade from a by-appointment-only studio in the heart of Nashville, Savannah Yarborough is one of the most sought after designers of bespoke leather jackets in the country — her clients include Jack White, Jason Isbell, and, with a bit of luck, you.

Olive Wagyu image courtesy of Crowd Cow