Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 502 : A trip to Beecher's

Beecher's Cheese opened in Manhattan on Friday and I knew I had to visit during its first weekend on the East Coast, a big deal for Beecher's and for us! Walking into the 900 Broadway storefront, I primarily noticed that this is the first cheese shop in Manhattan where the consumer does not feel claustrophobic, there's a casual rustic openness here. Entering through the open doors, you are greeted with a warm welcome of fresh homemade cheese curd samples. Directly to your right are two long refrigerated cases and situated in front of you are pre-cut Beecher's cheeses, cured meats, and more. To your left facing the consumer as you enter is a coffee area and a "to-go" cafe counter with their fantastic homemade award winning penne mac n' cheese among the other yummy goodies. Definitely worth at least a sample, if not an indulgence of an entire cup. Also on view, not yet in use, is what I believe to be Manhattan's first cheesemaking facility that is visible to the public. Check back shortly for this added treat. Below the retail shop is a sultry wine bar/restaurant that looks like just the sort of place to enjoy Beecher's decadent cheeses and wines.

I love the fact that a large percentage of the staff is imported from Seattle -- Beecher's knows what works for them, so why not keep to formula, simply across the country?

Looking at their cheese selections, I was primarily impressed about the broad ranging selection they had available of great American artisanal cheeses -- spanning small cheesemakers in Massachusetts to our home state cheese minds to the brilliance behind Zingerman's, Cowgirl Creamery, Lazy Lady Farm, Carr Valley Creamery and much much more. Most importantly, they had an entire case dedicated to their own cheeses. Yes, they are developing a new cheese named for their new neighborhood -- Flatiron. But that has yet to be released to the public, so stay tuned for thoughts on that. But for the meantime, they have their Flagship, their signature cheese first released to the public in 2003. Flagship comes aged for four years; in reserve format; smoked; crafted with raw milk; or infused with two distinct spice combinations resulting in No Woman and Marco Polo. You have to appreciate a cheesemaker who takes one successful cheese and continues and continues to experiment with his or her product till they are able to coax out a variety of distinct cheeses and Beecher's certainly succeeds at that.

Flagship walks an elegantly fine line between an aged cheddar and a classically nutty Alpine style cheese. Semi hard with a round buttery full flavor with a crisp nutty finish. It is American artisanal cheese done right! If you have not yet had the opportunity to sample Flagship, get thee to Beecher's and ask the lovely staff for a sample.

I am sure you are wondering what No Woman and Marco Polo are. Each starts with the extremely successful base of Flagship. No Woman adds a secret blend of Jamaican spices to produce a warm and delightfully unique cheese with nutty and spicy Caribbean notes. Stimulating in all the right sort of ways, enjoy with a glass of off-dry Riesling. Quite unlike any cheese I have ever had the pleasure to try and don't get me wrong, I have tried a few cheeses in my time.

Marco Polo is Beecher's homage to the European greats, specifically the Spanish stallions. Marco Polo itself is infused with milled green and black peppercorns to produce a piquant and dynamically spicy cheese with creamy richness round notes. I find it it tough to get the right proportion of peppercorn infusion in cheeses traditionally; take for example Pecorino Pepato, way too much peppercorn there, but this cheese succeeds with flying colors.

Overall - a much needed and fabulous addition to our Manhattan cheese shop options -- a place for sampling, purchasing, watching, enjoying, and cooking. How much better could one get?

Stay tuned for a report soon about the restaurant and other Beecher's offerings.
In the meantime, take yourself to Beecher's and enjoy!!!

900 Broadway (@20th street)

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