Monday, December 11, 2006

A Saxelby Cheesemongers Holiday Letter

First off, apologies for not sending out an email last week! I am racked with guilt! Well, I’ll blame my lovely sister Megan for that one. She was in town visiting and we got a little carried away with sisterly time. She lives in Chicago so she can’t hit me for writing this. (Well, not just now anyways.) This week’s email is a doozy… Hopefully it can make up for lost time!!

A Saxelby Cheesemongers Holiday Letter.

This year has been a big one for all of us here at Saxelby Cheesemongers. I mean, heck, we didn’t even exist at this time last year! (By we, I mean the perverbial ‘WE’ you all are included…) Saxelby’s was just a little star in the sky, or a gleam in somebody’s eye, or some other such cheesy cliché. Well, the cheese shop was born on Cinco de Mayo, and margaritas notwithstanding, it was a good day. We persevered through the summer, not balking at the broken air conditioner in the Essex Market during the heat wave (I hid in the walk-in), nor at other small calamities and dramas (broken display cases, small floods, dead dogs in the market, etc. True story, a dog went to doggie heaven not 20 feet from the cheese shop. Read the blog to learn more about that one.)
Throughout the months, many new cheeses have been eaten and discovered, and for that we are eternally grateful to the cheese makers! Lazy Lady Farm has kept us stocked with innumerable hilarious and tasty cheeses (Tomme de Lay and Barick Obama to name a few) and the brothers Kehler at Jasper Hill have graciously sold me some of their narcotic Cabot clothbound cheddar for the holidays. Yum! In the dairy department, there is nothing but goodness to report. Dave and Sue Evans and their five kids are churning out more creamline milk and yogurt than you can shake a stick at. And their butter has become my mainstay, my stalwart companion, through breakfast time and mashed potato time. Some might say I need to get out more, but to them I would answer: ‘Have you not tried this butter? Who needs friends and parties and stuff when you could sit down at your table on a Saturday night with some lovely buttered toast?!’
Sheeps’ milk yogurt, though met with trepidation by some, is earning its well-deserved place in the refrigerators of customers across the city. And stinky cheeses from Vermont to Virginia are happily asserting their odoriferous selves all over town. Subway riders beware of the man sitting next to you eating a Grayson cheese sandwich!
Thank you all for the cheesy love. Everybody have themselves a happy holiday season now, ya hear?

Saxelby Cheesemongers

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dead Dog (an explanation)

So, some of you may have been a bit confused at the holiday letter's mention of a dead dog in the Essex Market. No worries. Unless you were there on that fateful day (as I unfortunately was) there would be no way of knowing what in the heck I was talking about!

It went down like this:

There used to be a rather clunky picnic table next to the cheese shop, where all manner of idyl folks from the neighborhood would come to hang out. Well, they would sort of oscillate throughout the day, from McDonalds to Essex to Burger King, (all located on a small stretch of Delancey St) and so on and so forth. I came to call on them as the peanut gallery, because that's what they did. Made commentary. On just about everything from who beat up who in the subway the day before, to who looked fat/old/good/insert adjective here... as they walked by. On the day in question, the table was anchored by one such woman, Sugar, a rather ponderous and verbose lesbian from the McDonalds faction.

At about 12pm, the height of lunchtime mayhem at the Roldan Montalvo Luncheonette (the tiny countertop restaurant next to the cheese shop) there arose a ruckus. I was helping a woman at the the time, a very nice Swedish woman who was inquiring about some goat cheese. All of a sudden, from the corner of my eye, I saw a small but rapidly growing crowd of people in the corner of the market near the door. I chose to ignore the mob, as mobs were known to crop up from time to time, and continue thinking about goat cheese. Did the woman want a fresh goat cheese or an aged goat cheese? Was she going to put it in a salad or was she going to enjoy it straight up?

Next thing I know, a cup is being shaken at me, and there is a man on the side of the counter saying, 'Water! Water! Give me a cup of water!' I think to myself, this is a rude interruption, but I oblige and continue talking cheese with the Swede. It was a hot day after all, and I guess if I was really REALLY thirsty, I might be driven to do the same thing. Not thirty seconds later, he is back again, with the same demand. Now I'm starting to get annoyed. Which doesn't happen to me all that easily. I think to myself, sheesh! If you're that thirsty, just go buy a bottle of water from Batista. Batista Mini Mart are my neighbors at the market, who by the way, have the best deal on bottled water on the Lower East Side. Better than Chinatown even. You can get a liter for a buck! But I digress. I aquiesced and gave the man a second cup of water.

Now the peanut gallery is beginning to come to life and comment on the scenario. It turns out, I overhear Sugar yelling, that a man had put his dog in a duffel bag in order to bring it on the subway with him. Not the brightest bulb in the box. It probably doesn't help that this man seems to be a little bit drunk. I mean, this is New York in summer time, and the subways could easily double as crock pots for scantily clad humans, let alone dogs in bags. The goat cheese sale/dog drama are at this point, both rising to a nearly deafening crescendo. The nice Swedish woman is yelling to me above the din of the peanut gallery, 'YES! THAT GOAT CHEESE IS GOOD! I'D LIKE A QUARTER POUND!' In the background, but at a decibel level equal to or greater than the woman in front of me, I hear Sugar and company contributing their medical two-cents worth about the man and his dog... 'GIVE HIM MOUTH TO MOUTH!!!!! (the dog, not the man) and...'SOMEBODY CALL THE F*CKIN' DOG AMBULANCE!' It is a good idea, however, I have never seen the likes of a dog ambulance in New York and am somewhat doubtful or their existence. Like the tooth fairy.

After about ten minutes of yelling and screaming and water pouring, the dog is pronounced dead by it's owner, Sugar, and the rest of the peanut gallery. Some of them file out and shuffle back across the street to McDonalds. Some go back to eating their cups of rice and beans. The Swedish woman smiles at me, oddly calm and above the fray, and fishes a five dollar bill out of her wallet. She says, 'I saw that man on the street with his dog and told him he should bring it in here to get it out of the sun.' She shrugs and moves on with her cheese. I stare, somewhat dumbfounded as the half-drunk man decides what to do with his ex-pet. Various policemen and one hapless EMT who happened to be pulled into the fray begin to disperse, shaking their heads at this goofball of a man with his dog in a bag. Just a little bit of local color at the Essex Market....