Our Cheeselog

Keep on Rockin’: Installment 4

After a high protein breakfast of eggs Francaise at DB (Daniel Boulud) Bistro Moderne, we were off to Brooklyn.

If I were to move to New York, I would definitely live in Brooklyn, except for one small thing: I’m not nearly cool enough to live in Brooklyn. And I mean that as a genuine compliment to the town. What an amazing collection of beautiful businesses and interesting people. The shops are not only uniquely conceived and designed, but in nearly every place we went, the owner was behind the counter. There’s nothing like it. The weather was abysmal (cold and rainy all day) but it could not dampen our spirits. Go Brooklyn!

First stop was Bierkraft, which has hundreds of beers to choose from, including about 20 on tap and three cask ales. We stopped here for lunch and I enjoyed the ultimate manwich – a hulking Italian creation on perfectly crusty bread. Paired with my Flower Power IPA from Ithaca Beer Company, this sandwich made one heck of a lunch.

Next stop: Bklyn Larder, which had an amazing cheese selection, lots of gourmet goodies, prepared foods, and a gorgeous custom-built cheese “cave” with a see-through window. So impressive. It also reminded me that I’ve got to find a better way to hang salamis behind the counter. Nothing like a bunch of salamis on hooks to get the tummy rumbling. Their cheese mongers were super-nice and helpful, taking lots of time to talk about cheeses and sample them out. Bravo!

Ah, Stinky Bklyn. Such a lovely cheese shop. The coolest part was the 5 or so hams displayed on the front counter. These artisan hams are sliced by hand. I spoke to the owner about the painstaking process and he explained that his customers understand they will get a more rustic (a.k.a. thicker) cut, but they just love it. Way to go! Very cool store – with a very cool name. A real treat.

We asked the owner of Stinky Blyn to tell us a couple places we couldn’t miss (nothing like local recommendations from the locals themselves) and he pointed us toward Los Paisanos butcher shop and One Girl Cookies.

Los Paisanos was everything a butcher shop should be. What a selection! Bustling and tight on space, mainly because there was just SO MUCH MEAT!

When I say that One Girl Cookies was one of the most visually pleasing shops I’ve ever visited, I mean it. Gorgeous baked goods (the whoopee pies were out of this world). When I asked the woman behind the counter if I could take a photo of their offerings, she insisted on rearranging it all to perfection first (not that it wasn’t already perfect looking to me). Based on her attentiveness, I asked if she was the owner. “No, I wish. I’m just anal.” God bless the anal people of the world.

It was so wet and gross outside, we ducked into the nearest cute storefront and were greeted with the most charming kitchen shop I’ve ever entered, Whisk. They had beautifully displayed every possible cooking device and kitchen gadget imaginable. The woman behind the counter was so amazingly pleasant. Not only did she recommend her favorite restaurant for dinner (see Rye below), but she even called and made us a reservation. Now that’s service with a smile. Thank goodness we listened to her recommendation because our dinner was one of the great highlights of our trip.

We had to pop into Bedford Cheese Shop because I heard they had expanded. I visited the shop before Cheesetique opened over five years ago. At that time, they were a teeny tiny spot with a small but special collection of cheeses. Now, in their expanded space, they have greatly added to their cheeses (a nice big selection) and have more room for specialty food accents. One of their pleasant cheese mongers allowed me to taste a Roquefort I had never seen: Mons. It was outstanding – it would definitely stand up to our Papillon brand. Just a beautiful shop.

Heading out from Bedford Cheese Shop, we briskly walked/sloshed to Mast Brothers Chocolate. I must admit that I was most nervous about this destination based on two things. First, anyone who makes chocolate by hand is a serious food person and must be seriously focused and seriously attentive to detail. In other words, they must be serious. Science and art blended into one, it’s not all Willy Wonka land, people. Second, once I visit the web site and checked out the matching bearded brothers, I thought, “these guys are way out of my league”. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I entered the shop. Not only was one bearded brother there, but both beards were present. Very quickly, however, I was made to feel completely at ease (see photo below).

I watched them sort beans, tasted some amazing exotic chocolates, and even got to peek at the chocolate-making room (a.k.a. the inner sanctum). Rick Mast explained how he worked with a local friend/engineer who built his machines. I took some beautifully wrapped bars home with me in order to select which flavors we will carry at Cheesetique. Watch for them soon.

I still have to cover a few more Brooklyn places, but I’m going to sign off for now. Check for updates tomorrow!

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