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"The whole production of food has been totally deskilled," Fernald laments. "To get people to appreciate the quality, we need to re-professionalize the people who sell meat." Belcampo opened its own slaughterhouse in Yreka, 20 minutes north of the farm. Animal Welfare Association–certified and designed according to the prescriptions of compassion-in-butchery advocate Temple Grandin, the abattoir is a key link in a transparent, easily traceable system, all the way to the consumer.
- UPSTATE Belcampo's operations stretch from Siskiyou County to Uruguay.
Echoing the farm's Mount Shasta view, Belcampo's Larkspur outlet is located at the Marin Country Mart, in the evening shadow of Mt. Tam, across from the Golden Gate ferry terminal. The big, red "B" painted on the building is hard to miss. Designed like an old-fashioned butcher shop, with white tile walls and marble counters, it's a fairly straightforward space, with nothing stagey about it.
The cold case is neatly stocked with popular cuts, eclectic cuts and discovery meat: dry-aged picanha and bavette steak, ground beef and ground steak, lamb sirloin, pork belly, lamb hearts and lardo butter by the pound; quail, squab, duck and goose, too. So far, the lamb hearts are mainly popular with Marin County dog owners, says head butcher Chris Arentz.
Guardians of less gourmet dogs may be happy with the "dog grind" from the freezer case, comprised of lamb lungs and, well, other stuff. Leaving little opportunity to waste the animals that they've so thoughtfully raised is integral to Belcampo's retail model.
If an item seems over-ordered, they can turn it around in the restaurant. The casual eatery adjacent the shop offers a short menu that changes daily. Order at the counter, take a number and sit; the wait isn't long, and meanwhile, you can watch your Belcampo cheeseburger ($11) sizzling on the grill in the open kitchen—if the kitchen fans drown out the already unobtrusive music, that's part and parcel. The burger is the real deal—fresh, moist ground beef on a toasted sesame bun, with butter lettuce, aioli and chutney. It's simple, original and focused on the meat. A savory side of petite, fried Brussels sprouts ($6) is grilled blackly, caramelized and doused in citrus juice.
Menus change daily, and recently included a goat sandwich with Red Hawk cheese ($15), ham steak with honey and mustard ($11), beef tallow fries ($5) and several attractive-looking salads.
It's not surprising to find Anya Fernald at a business meeting in the restaurant, although she's slowed her pace just a bit, with infant daughter Viola in her arms. She's taken a liking to chewing on lamb bones and goose thighs already, says her proud mother.
Belcampo plans a slow launch of shops in San Francisco and Los Angeles this year, topping out at 10 in California. They're limited by what the farm can supply, and Fernald wants to make sure they'll never be another sustainable-meat operation that ends up in the red.
"I want to be the one who figures it out and is here in 20 years," she says. "And is thriving in 20 years."
Belcampo, 2405 Larkspur Landing Circle, Building 4, Larkspur. 415.448.5810.