Charming and personal visit to BG Charter Members Lindy & Grundy in Los Angeles, Ca. by The New Yorker’s Dana Goodyear. Read the article on The New Yorker’s site here.
FEBRUARY 1, 2012
LINDY & GRUNDY: THE BUTCHERING WOMEN OF L.A.
A year ago, I met Erika Nakamura and Amelia Posada, a couple about to open a butcher shop, Lindy & Grundy, in Los Angeles. (The butchering women at Avedano’s, in San Francisco, told me to keep a look out for them.) Erika, who is unassuming and favors wooden ear plugs and tweed jockey caps, is Grundy. Amelia—slick black pompadour, red lipstick, penciled brows, and a cleaver necklace—is Lindy, a former vegetarian who until recently was arranging flowers at the St. Regis in New York.
The shop, which Erika describes as an “old-school industrial French butcher shop,” has a rail system, for hanging and moving whole animals, designed by Amelia’s cousin, an ironworker in New York, and beautiful provisions. It opened this past spring and is already a fixture for the city’s food-aware. Cavemen come for fine, local, grass-fed animals that they can eat raw. Gourmands come for six-week dry aged porterhouse, at $44.99 a pound. At Christmas, there was goose. Chefs buy the bones.
I went in there the other day with a friend who is a frequent visitor. Amelia, who runs the front of the house, greeted us by pressing some fresh, uncooked face bacon in our palms and explaining how she made it by deboning a pig head to make a “mask,” then curing it, cooling it, washing it, tying it, smoking it, and slicing it. It was delicious: prosciutto-thin and melty, with a deep, campfire flavor.
The popular image of the butcher is a big man with a florid face and a menacing jolliness—what Erika calls “the fat dude in a bloody apron.” At Lindy & Grundy, Erika is the head butcher. To assist, they hire only what Amelia calls SNAGs—Sensitive New Age Guys. For example, there’s the one they refer to as “Young Buck,” Alex Jermasik, an apple-cheeked young man with a line of stubble along his jaw, who quit school to work at Lindy & Grundy and recently won the Chicken Breakdown competition at the Eat Real Festival, beating out a master butcher and the sous chef at Bouchon. “Our meat child,” Amelia said affectionately. “I’ve turned him into a Chicana feminist. He’ll be quoting Gloria Anzeldua soon.” Their other meat child is a teacup pig named Paloma “Lil’ Smokey” Posada. Speaking of smoke, the place smells amazing, due to the cherrywood smoker that runs daylong.
My friend left with a quail in his pocket. I left with a pound of manna: their beef-and-bacon grind, a fifty-fifty blend of beef and house-cured bacon. Amelia told me what to do: cook the burgers in a cast-iron skillet, smother them with blue cheese, and finish them in the oven, then serve with caramelized onions and arugula on a toasted brioche. I also left with some Cabot clothbound cheddar that I wanted to use instead of blue.
The next night, at home, I patted the meat—thick, fatty noodles, the two-tone pink of fifties Cadillac— into disks, no seasoning necessary. My fingers, even after I washed them were greasy and smelled of smoke, and soon the smell of bacon filled the house. Instead of brioche, we had English muffins and no caramelized onions, though I did manage to put some arugula on the plates. Presented with a burger cut into pieces, the Hungry Child said “Whole thing” and reached for mine. I distracted him with an English muffin, and snatched it back.
Photograph by Dana Goodyear.