Are you a beef jerky lover? I am. Camran, one of the owners of Jonty Jacobs in La Jolla insists you’ve never had beef jerky like this before. Some things in life you just sort of accept without giving a passing thought. For me, beef jerky is one of those things. Sodium nitrates, sure, why not? Preservatives? Okay! Artificial flavors? Sign me up! But then again, I had no idea there was a tastier, healthier version out there until now. Jonty Jacobs specializes in a popular South African snack called biltong. It is all natural, with no preservatives or artificial colorings. It isn’t heat dried like typical beef jerky, but instead is air dried and cured for 21 days.
Not very many places do it in the United States, especially in San Diego. Their first location resides in New York and they opted to expand with their second shop right here in sunny San Diego.
They are still settling in but I expect to see the shelves jam packed the next time I visit. You can find them right off of Prospect Street in La Jolla. Don’t give up if you don’t spot them right away. If you see a sign for the International Shops and follow the long corridor almost until it ends.
You can’t miss it once you get there.
The menu couldn’t be more simple, as long as you know what the four options are. We tried their main attraction, the biltong, and their droewors, which is a thin sausage (think Slim Jim that doesn’t taste like 15 year old pizza grease).
Camran and his wife Monique hope to replicate the success they had in New York over here in San Diego.
If you are rich, or just love biltong that much you can get an entire cut! It’s no coincidence they chose La Jolla due to the cost of their product. But when your asking price is on the premium end, you better be able to back it up with a quality offering. And they firmly stand behind what they do.
Here’s Camran using his meat slicer for the aged biltong.
Back in the day they used this traditional cleaver/cutting board. I think they even sell it if you want to be an OG.
You probably are wondering what it tastes like. Well, I can tell you again with absolute certainty, it does not taste like beef jerky. It’s texture and mouth feel more resembles a nice steak. The cut in the picture above is the regular biltong. They coat the meat with vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and some other super secret spices before curing the entire strip of meat. Jerky is typically sliced and then dehydrated. See the marbling? When freshly shredded it is very soft yet still gives you something to chew on.
The droewors comes in long sticks. The spicy version had a tiny kick to it, but nothing too crazy.
You can also have it chopped up for easy consumption.
They also offer a lean cut if you aren’t a fan of all that wondrous fat. It sort of surprised me. In my head, more fat = better. However, it had a nice clean flavor on its own.
The aged biltong probably was my favorite. This particular sliced cut was the wettest of the bunch and just had an amazing depth of flavor. The melt in your mouth factor was in full effect. Any and all of the varieties would go well with cheese, crackers, and wine. I didn’t have much left, but that’s how I enjoyed the last bits and pieces, sans the wine.
If you want to supercharge the biltong, they offer a spice blend of salt, pepper, and cayenne. Honestly it isn’t needed, but at the same time I love my spice! So do like my friends did and get it on the side.
Here Camran is shredding the lean cut and you can see it piled next to the traditional cut.
We took the rest home and all of it disappeared over the course of two days. I went back a week later to get more. And now I am out again…
If you want it pre-packaged they offer that as well.
Michael’s probably thinking to himself at this point, “do I have to share with Jorgina and the kids?” Haha, of course he did. But how much did he eat in the car? I know I snuck a few bites in on my way home! Camran is a busy man, and although I don’t have any kids yet, I can’t imagine what it’s like being away from his family for so long. Then again, my new slogan might be “anything for biltong I guess.”
Now if I could afford a constant supply of biltong I just might have it on hand at all times. For now, I’ll just have to save it for a nice reward. Or maybe if I’m going on a road trip…or if I decide to join the 135,000+ fanatics at Comic-Con. The biggest question I have now that I tried it twice is, how do I not run out of it so fast? Dude, it wouldn’t last half of the wait time for Hall H! Have fun out there SD and grab that swag this weekend!
Disclaimer: We were invited to try Jonty Jacobs, but the opinions stated are our own.
1237 Prospect St., Ste V
La Jolla, CA 92037