Today was National Grilled Cheese Day, and it also saw the grand opening of Brooklyn’s newest cheese-related shop: The Brooklyn Slate storefront, at 305 Van Brunt St in Red Hook! Founders Kristy Hadeka (whose family slate quarry provides the raw materials for the boards) and Sean Tice were on hand to greet visitors, and there was a station outside serving grilled cheese sandwiches.
Crafters of the best slate cheese boards out there, and the company largely responsible for making this stone a now-ubiquitous option for cheese presentation (not to mention providing the backdrop for many of the photos on this site), the store features lots of slate, of course, in many shapes, sizes and colors. In addition, there will also be cheese knives, domes and assorted gear, goods from Formaticum, housewares, linens, books and magazines, and much more. If you needed an excuse to head out to Red Hook, here’s yet another one.
In a reminder of how much Red Hook has gone through post-Sandy, the store has a water-line painted on the brick wall, indicating where the water reached to during the flood (you can see it in the second-to-last photo). Thankfully the store had not yet been built out when the storm hit, but there was still considerable work and repairs necessary to get back on track and ready for the opening.
So head on over and get yourself some slate!
While spending time in Portland, Maine recently, I made a trip to nearby Scarborough to visit The Cheese Iron, a cheese and specialty foods shop. Owned and operated by cheesemongers and husband-and-wife team Vince Maniaci and Jill Dutton, they’ve been bringing the best in European and American cheeses to the Portland area since 2006.
Vince has been at the cheesemongering game for a long time, as he told me while showing me around the store: after getting out of the Navy in the 90’s he started at the bottom, sweeping the floors at Cambridge, MA’s esteemed Formaggio Kitchen, learning the ropes along the way; later he spent time at Dean and Deluca in New York and Harry’s Farmers Markets in Atlanta. When Harry’s was acquired by Whole Foods, he took over the cheese counter at the flagship store in Austin, Texas. After five years in Texas, Vince and Jill decided it was time to open their own shop, and made their way to Portland, where The Cheese Iron was born.
One of the great features of the store is the open-windowed cave in the back, with wheels of cheese laid out on hay mats and cheese tryers — also known as “cheese irons”, hence the name of the store — resting on the window sills. The visible cave is a great way to introduce the customers to the process of affinage and cheese handling, as well as being visually striking. I assumed there were further walk in coolers in the back, but Vince told me that wasn’t the case; the windowed cave is the whole backstock, allowing for wheels to be brought into the cave, flipped, washed and brushed to bring them to peak, and sold when ready without languishing in coolers unnecessarily.
Sadly, I was a bit early for the arrival of larger numbers of Maine cheeses, which were expected in the autumn, but I did get to try some excellent cheeses, including “City of Ships” from Hahn’s End Dairy in Maine, a semi-firm aged cheese, with a distinctive tang and bite; Alpha Tolman from Jasper Hill, better known as the focus of Culture Magazine and Jasper Hill’s “Birth of A Cheese 2012” project (I’d been wanting to try that one for a while!), a young Alpine that was already developing a depth and complexity of flavor that promises great things for the future; and Humble Pie from Woodcock Farms, a sheep and cow mixed-milk washed rind cheese, meaty, buttery and pungent and absolutely at peak.
The Cheese Iron also has a wide selection of charcuterie, breads and other accompaniments for your cheese. If you’re in Portland, Maine and need your cheese fix, this is definitely the first stop.
The Cheese Iron
200 US Route One
Scarborough, Maine 04074
Via the New York Times, looks like a new cheese counter is coming to NYC, opening this Saturday!
An Artisanal Food Court in TriBeCa
When he set out to open a market, Kyle Wittels, an interior designer, knew his limitations. “I wasn’t a retailer,” he said. “I knew I had to get professionals.” So that’s just what he did. All Good Things is a no-frills, floor-through affair in the heart of TriBeCa with counters for different artisanal vendors, like a food court for provisioning. He has lured Orwasher’s for bread, Blue Marble Ice Cream and Nunu Chocolates from Brooklyn, Dickson’s Farmstand Meats from Chelsea Market, Blue Bottle Coffee, the florist Polux Fleuriste and, from Sag Harbor, Cavaniola’s cheeses, condiments and cured meats. The chef Ryan Tate, formerly at Savoy, will run the produce and seafood stands. Mr. Tate will also be the chef for the intimate downstairs restaurant, Le Restaurant, to open in mid-October with a $70 to $80 prix fixe menu with no choices that will change every day.
All Good Things, 102 Franklin Street (Church Street), (212) 966-3663, opens Saturday. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily .
Read the full story here.
(Photo ©2012 New York Times)
Now open at 67 Irving Place in Manhattan, just off Union Square: Bedford Cheese Shop’s new location! The new shop is larger then the Brooklyn location and has a more expansive cheese chase to go with it, and features a similarly excellent array of European and American cheeses. As with the Brooklyn location, the selection of Swiss small-scale farmstead cheeses is particularly impressive (I’ve found Swiss cheeses there that I had trouble locating in cheeses shop in Switzerland last summer).
One of the first cheeses I picked up there on opening day was the Cazelle de St Afrique, an amazing little sheep’s milk puck of buttery, oozing, grassy goodness, pure decadence in a few blissful bites. from famed affineur Hervé Mons, it’s one to look seek out.
So head on over and check it out! They also have a range of charcuterie, pickled goods, breads, jams, mostardas, oils, and everything else that you might need to complement your cheese plate.
Bedford Cheese Shop, 67 Irving Place
(888) 484-3243; bedfordcheeseshop.com.
Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Recently I made a trip down to the Lower East Side to check out Malt & Mold, a “neighborhood shop for beer and cheese”, as well as many other edible delights. Open only a few weeks, they were recently profiled in the New York Times:
Kevin M. Heald’s smartly tailored little shop, Malt & Mold…has assembled about 50 craft beers, mostly domestic, and a well-curated assortment of cheeses, also artisanal and American, along with some imports like taleggio. Pickles and chocolates from Brooklyn, yogurts, vinegars, crackers and cured meats line the shelves and display cases. For now, the beers are in bottles and cans; eight tap lines, and growlers in various sizes, await a state permit. The shop may be out of the way, but it is the only local retailer for the excellent sweet and savory knishes from Knishery NYC, a new company; for salami by Charlito’s Cocina, of St. Louis; and for ice cream from the Bent Spoon, of Princeton, N.J., which shares the freezer with Blue Marble, Adirondack and Van Leeuwen.
When you head this far east into the LES the shopping options start to dwindle, so this is a great addition to the neighborhood, for hop and curd fans alike.
The owner, Kevin Heald, was quick to point out that the cheese selection is still being grown, but from what I saw and tasted it was small but very well curated and cared for, with a good cross section of American and European cheeses from the top makers and affineurs on both continents, from the best of Vermont, to cheeses from acclaimed French fromager Rodolphe Le Meunier.
Out for tasting was Jasper Hill’s Conundrum — which is actually just a working title, the same one they gave Harbison, I believe, back when it was a work in progress — a bloomy rind cheese that is then washed, turning it into a hybrid bloomy-washed rind of some sort. Whatever the particulars, it was excellent, similar to their Moses Sleeper but with the pinkish rind of a classed B. Linens washed cheese smattered with the white molds of its bloomy origins. Pungent and mildly barnyardy, with a lightly sticky rind, the buttery, lightly eyed paste has a nice saltiness and a grassy, full flavor with a light meatiness and vegetal finish.
So take a trip down east, and pick up some beer, knishes and a couple wedges of cheese, and you’ve got yourself a pretty nice picnic, courtesy of Malt & Mold.
Malt & Mold, 221 East Broadway (Clinton Street), (646) 238-0272, maltandmold.com.
Red Goat, from Valley Shepherd Creamery. If I came across a whole wheel of this cheese in a field I’d probably mistake it for a chunk of sandstone or brick left over from a long-gone structure, given the beautiful, crumbly paprika-encrusted rind. In flavor it is a mild, creamy tomme with a nice grassiness and goaty bite.
Purchased at the new Valley Shepherd Creamery store in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I was familiar with VSC from their stand at the Union Square farmers market, and had enjoyed several of their cheeses including the Scentsation, a wonderfully stinky washed rind, and the Nettlesome, Hunterdon, Oktoberkase, and others. The new store seems focused on their own cheeses, with a few other cheesemaker’s wares, charcuterie, and assorted dairy and meat products. Definitely worth checking out.
There was a time in New York when the topic of cheese shops would invariably bring up the question, “do you know about the East Village Cheese Shop”? This was especially true if you were, um, budgetarily challenged. Popular as much for its cheap prices as for its assortment of cheeses, it was a mainstay for people with a big appetite for cheese but a thin wallet. if you needed to stock up on cheese in a hurry without breaking the bank, it was a good bet.
Times have changed, and with the explosion of cheese shops in the five boroughs (Beechers and Eataly both opened recently, within a 5-10 minute walk of the East Village Cheese Shop, and Bedford Cheese Shop’s manhattan location will be a stone’s throw away as well, not to mention the Whole Foods cheese counter up the block) have lessened this little shop’s draw somewhat. But it’s still a great place to stock up on some alpines or goudas, or get fresh breads or pastas.
Given its history, it’s interesting to read about its origins and owners, a pair of Tibetan exiles who came to cheese unexpectedly:
Around the corner from Astor Place, the East Village Cheese shop is a long way from the Himalayan plateau, where owners Thupten Tenphel, 35, and Lobsang Tsultrim, 29, grew up. Like many who opposed the Chinese occupation of Tibet, they were forced to flee the country in the 1990s because of their political views. Neither spoke a word of English when they arrived in New York, but they found work at East Village Cheese and taught themselves in part by listening to chatter in the cramped, bustling store…
…When Mr. Kaufman, 73, wanted to retire in 2005, he asked the pair if they were interested in buying. They agreed to take over, and haven’t changed a thing about the selection of cheeses or the narrow yellow-and-green interior crowded with large display cases and packed refrigerators. The counter boasts an overwhelming selection of both authentic and soy versions of popular cheeses, sold at a half-pound minimum (brie and gouda are the most popular varieties, according to Mr. Temphel). In the rear, racks are loaded with flavored crackers, toast points, rice cakes, fig jams, marinated olives and artichokes, and fresh breads.
Beecher’s opens their NYC location in the Flatiron district today. Above is the onsite cheesemaking facility, as seen from the upstairs dining room. There’s an excellent cheese counter, featuring an assortment of American cheeses and the array of house cheeses, including the Flagship, Flagsheep, Smoked Flagship and others. Coming soon, a NYC specific cheese, made and aged at this location.