Monday, December 31, 2007

Saxelby Cheesemongers New Year's Resolutions

This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers

Can it be?! Is it that time of year already?!? Crazy but true, New Year's Eve is upon us. And we all know what that means... plenty of champagne, plenty of reminiscing about the year gone by, and plenty of resolving what the new year will bring. At Saxelby Cheesemongers, we've made a few resolutions of our own. Here they are all laid out on the table, so to speak. Here goes... Hope you're all hungry!

Resolution #1:
Eat more cheese.

Just kidding. We do that anyways... But, seeing as 2008 is a leap year, we'll all need to do our part to get enough energy for that extra day in February. Why not get an early start?!

Resolution #2:
Visit more farms.

Not only is visiting farms the most fun part of our job, but one of the most important aspects too. If we don't visit our cheese makers to get a good picture of how they are farming, we may as well be writing sci-fi novels about our cheeses! Entertaining and imaginative to be sure, but not the most fact-based tomes around. And in 2008, we plan to have many more accomplices with us as we go seek out some of our favorite cheese makers. Thanks to you all, our Day A-Whey trips were a HUGE success last year! We can't wait to start up the old engines on the tour bus again and get out to see some cheese making in action. Look for more info in the coming months... we plan to resume our weekend cheese-ing sometime in April.

Resolution #3:
Get more involved with our neighborhood and community.

The Lower East Side is just busting with amazing places, run by amazing people, who have been at it since WAY before Saxelby Cheesemongers was even a little glimmer in some cheese head's eye. One place in particular, the M'Finda Kalunga community garden on Rivington Street, is one of the most beautiful gardens in the city, and has been extremely supportive of Saxelby Cheesemongers from the very start. Saxelby Cheesemongers will look to join forces with the garden to host some fun cheese/food/gardening events as the winter melts away and spring starts to show its face.

Resolution #4:
Find ways to tie more of our favorite things to cheese.

How does that Sound of Music song go? 'Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...' At Saxelby Cheesemongers our first love is obvious. Cheese. However, there are a great many things out there that we also love. Among them are the following: pirates, tugboats, accordion music, strong coffee, good books, Red Hook, riding bikes, and on and on...

We're out to find ways to bring all these things together under that big old umbrella called 'cheese love.' So watch out for new events that aren't your average wine and cheese tastings. We'll embark on some interesting little adventures, no doubt.

Happy New Year From Saxelby Cheesemongers! Peace, Love, and Cheese!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Saxelby Cheesemongers Goes Home for the Holidays

This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers

Good Monday morning cheese heads!

First of all, I would just like to say a big giant thank you to everyone who braved wind, sleet, and snow to help make yesterday's Wintermarket a warm and wonderful event! Though the setting was chilly, the vittles were fine, and all you food-loving New Yorkers (And Texans and Jersey-ites, and Atlantans) came out in style. Wintermarket was truly a historic market event for New York City. Never before were so many different sustainable farmers, chefs, foragers, and purveyors gathered in the same place! We saw truffles from Vermont, a whole rolled up pig porchetta with the head on, a giant bowl of Brooklyn-made ricotta drizzled with a dizzying array of East End honeys, artisan breads and bike-ground tortillas, the list goes on and on...

With support like that, hopefully we can make the market a permanent fixture down by the seaport and party hardy every Sunday! If you care to, visit New Amsterdam Public's website to learn more about Wintermarket and what you can do to help make another market event a reality.

But, alas, the week must begin anew. Don't worry, we didn't sell all our cheese at Wintermarket... there's still plenty to be had for those lovely (indoor!) parties y'all are getting down to. I am a big advocate, somewhat obviously, of being the bringer of the cheese plate at ye olde holiday party. Not only does it look kinda fancy and sophisticated, it involves much less time and gnashing of teeth than making a fruitcake!

Saxelby Cheesemongers Holiday Cheese Recommendations:

Atlantic Mist, Mecox Bay Dairy
Raw cows' milk. Bridgehampton, NY

Our little Mists are ripening up to the point of gooey perfection. For those of you who are haunted by the memory of that last succulent camembert you had in Paris way back when, good news! Atlantic Mist is the Long Island cousin to the aforementioned froggy cheese; buttery, runny, and just a wee bit barnyardy. Atlantic Mist was built for cold weather and a group of good friends around the table.

Ascutney Mountain, Cobb Hill Farm
Raw cows' milk. Hartland, VT

When I go home to visit my family for the holidays, Ascutney Mountain is my passport through the front door. Seriously. Once I forgot and was nearly turned around to get back on the plane to New York for having made such a careless transgression! Ascutney is aged, caramelly sweet, and ever so slightly earthy. It's rich and smooth, and will leave a little zing on your palate long after you've tackled the last bite.

Goat Tomme, Twig Farm
Raw goats' milk. Cornwall, VT

Ok, so we've been a bit biased towards cows till now. Maybe it's the love of butterfat when the mercury drops below a certain number? Goat Tomme has a richness all its own, though, and tastes like a burst of fresh grass in the middle of winter. Aged for three months and allowed to develop a divine and somewhat gnarly rind. Goat Tomme tastes of sweet musky goats' milk, cloves, spice, and good old Vermont conifers. Don't believe me? Come in and have a bite for yourself!

Saxelby Cheesemongers will be closed for the holidays Monday December 24th, Tuesday December 25th, and Wednesday December 26th.

We will re-open on Thursday December 27th at 9:00 am sharp!

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Better Butter

This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers

100 bucks to the first person to guess what this picture is of...
Give up? Ok, fine. It's the Evans butter churn!

Let's just start by saying that not all butters are created equal. I for one, took butter as a given, just another one of those necessary staples in the fridge, at the ready for a little slice of toast or a little sautee of something or other. Then about two years ago, I was treated to a jaunt around upstate New York, visiting different dairy farms and creameries, and was promptly corrected by my taste buds.

Enter the Evans. Dave and Sue and their kids, who all work to make Evans Farmhouse Creamery the beacon of dairy goodness that it is. The Evans' cultured butter is the stuff dreams are made of, dense and rich and golden sweet. Why the heck is their butter so good? Well, the reasons probably number in the hundreds, but it all starts with the cows. Throughout the year, the cows' diet changes, going from fresh pasture and hay in the summer to a mix of small grains and dry hay in the wintertime. This time of year, the butter is a pale yellow, due to the fact that the cows are snacking on more dry hay and less fresh grass. Grass is full of carotenes, and those carotenes give summer butter its bright, intensely yellow color. However, winter butter is fattier, and arguably more silky and luscious because the cows, while producing less milk overall, give richer and more concentrated milk during the cold winter months.

So, while the magic starts with the cows in the barn, the next step on our butter brick road takes us to the creamery. After the cows are milked, the cream is separated and cultured for a day and a half before being churned. The culturing of the cream gives the Evans' butter a most excellent subtle tangy quality. Just think of the culture as a means to developing all those latent complex flavor components present in sweet fresh cream. After the culture has had time to fully ripen the cream, the butter is churned. (see somewhat scary photo above) It is then scooped out onto tables in the creamery to be 'worked' and pressed by hand. Now, all us non-farming folks may go to the gym after work, but Sue and her butter making crew get their workout right then and there. It takes her about three hours to press and knead 100 gallons worth of cream into the high quality butter we luckily get to spread on our toast. All that pressing ekes out any remaining moisture in the butter, and renders the final product dense and ridiculously decadent.

Now enter Saxelby Cheesemongers! We procure a delivery of fresh Evans Farmhouse butter each week so that you can enrich your fridge. Trust us, this butter'll make a believer out of you.

Saxelby Cheesemongers will prominently feature Evans Farmhouse butter next Sunday, December 16th, at Wintermarket, a one day market celebrating regional, sustainable food at the old Fulton Fish Market. Come on down and pick up a chunk for your larder, or treat yourself to a grilled cheese and pickle sandwich liberally slathered in Evans Farmhouse butter! Saxelby Cheesemongers will also be showcasing and selling a selection of our favorite cheeses, yogurts, cream, and other fresh dairy products.

A Seasonal Celebration of Regional and Sustainable Food Sourced, Selected, Produced and Prepared by a New Generation of Purveyors

Sunday, December 16th, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
The Fulton New Market Building
(South Street between Peck Slip and Beekman Street)

I know I already extolled the virtues of this market last week, but hey, it's gonna be amazing, so here I go again. In addition to tasty local cheese and dairy products from Saxelby Cheesemongers, Wintermarket will feature dried beans and freshly milled grains from New England, an array of expertly foraged foods from Vermont, and an irresistible menu of street food-style goodies, from Caroline Fidanza's vegetarian chili to Mario Battali's very own porchetta sandwiches.

For more info, check out

Monday, December 03, 2007

Winter Bonanza O' Stuff To Do

This Week (or month...) at Saxelby Cheesemongers
December is bound to be a blast! There are so many cheesetastic events coming up, the calender runneth over... So, if you're looking for a break from the pre-holiday mayhem, good cheese and good food are always a welcome respite.

Pickle and Cheese Night:
Rick's Picks and Saxelby Cheesemongers Lower East Side Feast!

Friday, December 7th
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm (ish)
Rick's Picks
195 Chrystie Street between Stanton and Rivington

Once upon a time there was a thing called ladies night. Now there's pickle and cheese night. Thank goodness we're doing the latter. Fermented folkies of the Lower East Side Saxelby Cheesemongers and Rick's Picks invite you to a night of pickle and cheese pairings at Rick's funky pickle outpost! Stop on by to share a bite of Phat Beets and Bayley Hazen Blue, drink a little glass of wine, and order holiday pickle and cheese packs for your friends and family.

New Amsterdam Public Wintermarket:

Sunday, December 16th
11:00 am to 4:00 pm
The Fulton New Market Building
South Street between Peck Slip and Beekman Street

Quite possibly the greatest thing we've done all year. Saxelby Cheesemongers will be selling cheese, butter, cream, and other fresh local dairy at Wintermarket, a one day market event to be held at the historic Fulton Street Fish Market. Wintermarket is the first in a series of events put on by New Amsterdam Public, a non-profit organization whose mission is to create New York's first indoor public market dedicated to regional and sustainable food, sourced and sold by expert purveyors.

Farmers, foragers, bakers, and beekeepers from all over the Northeast will converge at the old Fulton Street Market to vend their wares and cook up some tasty vittles, all sourced from within a 500 mile radius of New York City. Chef Mario Batali will be making some ridiculously rich porchetta sandwiches; and chefs from the likes of Marlow and Sons, Centovini, Butter, and Applewood will be creating amazing dishes to help buffer the winter chill. As for us, we're sticking to grilled cheese and pickle sandwiches... With company like that, we best stick to the basics!

Wintermarket is free to the public. A $5 donation is suggested to help New Amsterdam Public continue their efforts to bring a local and sustainable public market to New York City.

Saxelby Cheesemongers hopes to see you out on the town sometime soon!