The Essex Street Market in the lower east side of Manhattan has been around for some time, supplying groceries and produce to neighborhood residents. But now other Manhattanites have reason to make the trek to this ever-evolving market, for what other reason but CHEESE.
Daphne Zepos was first to the scene when she opened the Essex St. Cheese Co., selling one (yes, just one) cheese – Comté Saint Antoine, a cow’s milk cheese from the Jura mountains in France. Daphne is a big believer in the quality of the Comté she gets – it is hand selected by her cheese partners in France and the UK, and is perfectly aged to meet her high standards. It’s a seriously versatile cheese, and for those wary consumers out there, it’s a great intro to true artisan cheese. Greg Blais, formerly of Bedford Cheese Shop, manages the stall and is happy to hand out samples and chat to you about the cheese (sold at $14.99/lb).
A few stalls down is a relative newcomer to the cheese retail scene, Anne Saxelby (formerly from Murray’s Cheese Shop). Her stall, Saxelby Cheesemongers, is solely dedicated to American artisan cheeses. Her focus on this category means that Anne carries fantastic cheeses that might not be picked up by bigger retailers. Anne had me try the Cow’s Milk Tomme from Twig Farm in Vermont ($19.99/lb). A raw cow’s milk cheese, aged at least 3 months, this perfect looking tome produces fruity and buttery flavors that are at once sublime and completely approachable. Anne’s stall is complete with an aging room (“cave”), and tasty looking breads from Sullivan Street Bakery.
The Essex Street Market is located at 120 Essex Street, New York, NY 10002. For vendor hours, contact them directly at (718) 389-0207 (Essex St. Cheese Co.), and (212) 228-8204 or visit http://www.saxelbycheese.com/ (Saxelby Cheesemongers).