Monday, April 25, 2011

Save the Essex Street Market!

For over 70 years, the Essex Street Market has been feeding the Lower East Side. This dynamic market has evolved with the neighborhood over the years, representing the ever-changing demographics of one of New York's most vibrant quarters. Now, because of the SPURA redevelopment project, that could all change.

SPURA stands for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, and is primarily comprised of a string of empty lots on the south side of Delancey Street between Essex Street and the Williamsburg Bridge. These lots were cleared for development in 1965. For over 40 years, the fate of this land has been hotly contested by city planners and neighborhood residents, with no solution found.

Recently, the community board (CB3) approved a set of guidelines to move the redevelopment process forward. The redevelopment zone now includes all city-owned property in the area, including the Essex Street Market. In their guidelines, the city proposed demolishing the current Essex Market and moving it to a 'superior location.' If the Essex Street Market were to move, it would not only lose its historic context, it would lose the soul and spirit of the place, an intangible but real thing created by merchants and customers over the past seven decades. We need your help and support to save the Essex Market!

essex market_oldBuilt by mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1940, the Essex Market was originally intended to get pushcart vendors off the street. The Lower East Side was always a neighborhood of immigrants, a veritable patchwork quilt of different cultures and nationalities all struggling to make a life for their families. To walk the streets in the early 1900's was to navigate dense arteries of commerce, with merchants setting up shop in pushcarts selling everything from clothing to fresh meat and produce.

The city decided to build a series of indoor markets for these merchants to do business. These markets were built all over the city, but there was a large concentration on the Lower East Side. Their goal was twofold: to give these merchants an opportunity to do business in a proper market with more amenities, and to clear crowded city streets to allow traffic to pass. Of all these markets, only three remain today: Essex Street, La Marqueta in Harlem, and the Moore Street Market in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

These markets are historic places that deserve to be saved. They hearken back to a time when the city built public markets to uphold communities, when the market was considered not just a place to buy food, but a community space to gather and exchange news.

For the vendors these markets also represent an opportunity to start and build a small business, which is a very egalitarian thing indeed, especially in a city like New York.

essex market_newSince 1940, the Essex Market has seen many different stages of life. The 1940's through the 1960's were booming years. The Lower East Side was a thriving shopping district, known for good value and good products. The 1948 film 'The Naked City' depicts the Essex Market in its heyday, with throngs of people clamoring to buy fruits, live poultry and live fish from market vendors. In the 1970's the advent of the supermarket drew shoppers away from the Essex Market, but the vendors persevered through the hard times and continued to do business.

In the past 10 years, the Essex Market has undergone yet another change, with new vendors moving in alongside the old, proving again that the market evolves with the neighborhood. The vendors may change, but the market is still a bastion of community, full of vibrant unique small businesses serving the needs of a diverse clientele... just as Mayor LaGuardia intended it to be.

What can you do to help save the Essex Street Market? Please sign the online petition, or attend the next community board meeting on May 25th at the University Settlement on Eldridge Street to speak your mind. With your support, we can preserve a New York institution, one that I am extremely proud to be a part of!

Cutting the Curd, a dairy-centric radio show on Heritage Radio Network

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Burrata is Back!

At long last, winter seems to have subsided enough for us to safely tuck our long underwear away for another year. Don't quote me on it, but on this mild and lovely Monday morning, it seems like it might actually be true!

So what does that mean in seasonal cheese speak? Burrata, that's what! We've been holding out for what seems like forever, waiting for the steady glow of springtime (as opposed to the occasional flicker) to bring back one of our favorite warm weather cheeses... Burrata may have been invented in Italy, but America (or Philadelphia to be more specific) is closing the gap fast with rich, creamy, freshly made burrata delivered to Saxelby Cheesemongers each and every week.

burrataMade from stretched mozzarella curd that is formed into a pouch, then filled with ricotta and pure panna (Italian for cream) before being closed up and bound with fresh leeks, burrata is just the thing to top your table this spring and summer. At home with pretty much any flavor out there, don't be afraid to mix things up and try out some accompaniments that tickle your fancy... honey, truffles, ramps, pesto, figs, asparagus, peas, tomatoes, cured meats, tapenade, freshly cut herbs, or just plain old olive oil, salt & pepper will all do the trick quite nicely. I'll take a freshly made burrata over long underwear any day...

A Day A-Whey: Peconic Pearls
Saturday May 7th, 8:30 am to 7:00 pm

oysters and cheese!There are still a few seats left on our Day A-Whey trip to Bedell Cellars and Peconic Land Trust. Don't miss this chance to sip some fine wine, sample local oysters, and of course, munch on farmstead cheese! For tickets visit

Cheese on the Radio!

Cutting the Curd, Anne Saxelby's dairy-centric radio show is broadcast live on the Heritage Radio Network from 4:30 to 5:00 pm on Monday afternoons! Tune in live at, or download as a podcast to get a line on the cheesiest news around. Got questions? Send an email to, or call the studio at 718-497-2128.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Oysters and Cheese!

Oysters and cheese... Two of our favorite things featured in two fantastic events! Saxelby Cheesemongers is shucking our way seaward at this Sunday's New Amsterdam Market Oyster Saloon, and getting ready for our first Day A-Whey trip of the year out to the North Fork of Long Island!

That's's the email everyone's been waiting for! Spring is in the air, and it's time for our first Day A-Whey trip of the season! Saxelby Cheesemongers is teaming up with Taking Root to bring you a briny, cheese-filled trip out to Long Island's North Fork. We'll sip some fine wine at Bedell Cellars Winery, enjoy a lavish picnic lunch featuring local goat cheese from Catapano Dairy, and pay a visit to Noank Aquaculture Cooperative at Peconic Land Trust's Shellfisher Preserve to learn about (and taste!) delicious Long Island oysters! Sit back, relax, and let us do the driving! All you have to bring is your appetite...

A Day A-Whey: Peconic Pearls!

Daytrip to Bedell Cellars Winery and Noank Aquaculture Cooperative

Saturday, May 7th 8:30 am to 7:00 pm

For tickets ($125) and information visit

oysters and cheese!

Our trip will depart from the historic Essex Market on a chartered coach. The first stop on our Day A-Whey will be Bedell Cellars Winery, a 30-year-old sustainably farmed and family owned estate vineyard and winery. Guests will have the chance to take in the scenery and taste a variety of wines from the vineyard, accompanied by a picnic lunch including cheeses from Long Island's very own Catapano Dairy and an array of other goodies from Sullivan St. Bakery bread to Greenmarket salads.

After lunch, the Day A-Whey continues with a stop at Noank Aquaculture Cooperative at Peconic Land Trust's Shellfisher Preserve. Working to conserve Long Island's working farms and natural landscape, the Cooperative uses their facilities for shellfish aquaculture research and education. Farmer, Karen Rivara will give us a tour and teach us about aquaculture and the importance of oyster conservation in the area. After the tour, we'll sample some oysters, pearls of the North Fork, along with some refreshing locally brewed beer!

Last but not least, if weather permits, we'll visit the historic Horton Point Lighthouse to take a stroll and breathe the salty sea air. We'll head on back to the city by 7:00 pm, well fed, well rested, and ready for summer!

Ticket price is $125. Please note that ticket price includes transportation, picnic lunch, and all tasting/farm tour fees. $10 of the ticket price will be a charitable contribution to the Peconic Pearls program.

For tickets and information visit

Grilled Cheese and Oysters!

New Amsterdam Market Oyster Saloon

Saturday April 9th 5:00 to 10:00 pm

Old Fulton Fish Market at Beekman Street

oyster saloon

It's been a while, but Saxelby Cheesemongers is busting out our fire-breathing dragon of a grill to cook up some tasty, toasty cheese sandwiches! Show your support for one of New York's finest markets and help kick off the 2011 season!

Cheese on the Radio!

Cutting the Curd, Anne Saxelby's dairy-centric radio show has changed days, and is now broadcast live on the Heritage Radio Network from 4:30 to 5:00 pm on Monday afternoons! Tune in live at, or download as a podcast to get a line on the cheesiest news around. Today's show will investigate the State of Cheese in North Carolina with the folks at Chapel Hill Creamery. Email your questions to, or call the studio at 718-497-2128.

'Till next week, eat cheese and be merry!

Cutting the Curd, a dairy-centric radio show on Heritage Radio Network

Friday, April 01, 2011

Help a Goat Out!

The weather may be gloomy out there, but tomorrow, Saturday April 2nd, Saxelby Cheesemongers and Earl's Beer and Cheese are makin' some sunshine! Come on out tomorrow to help us support Ardith Mae Farm, a fantastic farmstead cheese operation in northeastern Pennsylvania. Farmers Todd and Shereen Wilcox lost one of their barns during the last big snow of the season, and you can help!

goats in pasture
Ardith Mae Girls in the Pasture

On Saturday April 2nd, Saxelby Cheesemongers will donate 10% of retail sales to Ardith Mae Farm!
Help Ardith Mae get back on their feet and build a new barn! The more cheese lovers that come to the shop, the more moo-lah we'll send to Todd and Shereen! You know you've been looking for an excuse to stock up... here's your chance to get your cheese on and do some major good!

And for you uptowners, head on over to Earl's Beer and Cheese for an Ardith Mae benefit brunch tomorrow! From 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, your brunching means barn building!
Suggested donation is $50, and all proceeds will be donated to Ardith Mae. Who knew drinking mimosas and eating cheese could be so dang productive?!

You know what they say... Karma is a boomerang. Give it a good toss!!

Cutting the Curd, a dairy-centric radio show on Heritage Radio Network

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