Sunday, April 10, 2011
Winner Winner Local, Pastured, Organic Ground Lamb Pasta Dinner
"I'm having dinner with the butchers," He said.
For a moment, I decided to play a long. I began to nod my head in understanding, as if to say, "Oh yes, the butchers -- great folks. Love the way they handle a cleaver."
But I stopped myself mid-encouraging smile.
"The butchers." He repeated, as though the very act of repeating it would suddenly make it clear to me who these mystical butchers were.
I had no idea.
So when I met them later that night -- the butchers, who are now well-known throughout the LA dining community as "Lindy & Grundy" -- they were just Amelia and Erika -- a sweet couple who were fun, easy to talk to and passionate about their craft. Which just happened to be butchering local, pastured and organic meats.
I could scarcely focus on the food in front of me (incidentally, meat) as we talked about their future butcher shop, Lindy & Grundy, coyly named after their nicknames for each other.
"Will you have hangar steak?" I asked, hopefully.
They said they would -- and a cut that I might like even better.
"Will you tell me how to cook it?"
They said they would -- that they'd also have rubs, marinades and spices, and eventually recipes for what to do with items purchased in their sustainable shop.
"Will I be able to come and get like two slices of bacon or just a hunk of pancetta?" I asked, thinking about the half package of bacon I'd thrown away the last time I'd purchased it.
They said I would -- that they'd cut me exactly what I needed.
I was sold. A local butcher shop that sources meats from small, humane family farms; believes in nose-to-tail butchering; and lets me walk out with two measly slices of bacon for my favorite barley dish with roasted cauliflower and chickpeas?
The next day I couldn't talk to anyone without mentioning "the (awesome) butchers."
So when Lindy & Grundy finally opened its doors to a mass of meat-thirsty Angelenos last Tuesday, I immediately began plotting my first visit to the sun-drenched space at 801 North Fairfax Avenue. I had a butternut squash to use up from when they were still (kind of) in season, a Mark Bittman recipe burning a hole in the "Recipes I Need to Make" file in my brain, and, conveniently, nothing to do this past Friday night.
Except cook, eat and drink.
"Ground lamb! Winner winner pasta dinner!" I tweeted as I made my way back to my car with my half-pound of freshly butchered meat ($6.99/lb).
When I first unwrapped the mass of unadulterated lamb, my initial reaction was that it looked weird -- completely different.from the ground meat I'm used to seeing at the grocery store that's usually more obviously shaped into thin, twine-like, heavily marbeled ribbons. It made me wonder if this is how it's actually supposed to look -- that maybe I'd been duped by the commercial packaging of ground meat my whole life.
But what was even more startling to me was the taste. For years I've avoided buying lamb at the market because I've always been concerned about gaminess (for some reason this never troubles me when I dine out). The lamb from Lindy & Grundy was so mild and pure that had I not known it was lamb, I might have guessed I was eating a leaner, slightly more flavorful cut of beef.
That tame meaty flavor was the perfect accent for my "winning" pasta dinner -- a whole wheat fusilli luxuriously enrobed in a stew of cumin and cinnamon-spiced butternut squash, tomatoes and onions.
I smiled as I sat down with my cuddly bowl of pasta, thinking about how special it was that my meal was made possible by two knife-wielding, tattooed ladies.
You know, "the butchers."
But I still think of them as Amelia and Erika -- two kind-hearted, fun girls who just happen to have a passion for sustainable, nose-to-tail butchering.
Lindy & Grundy
801 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046