Yes, that’s right. New York City is the proud home of a brand new cheese palace called Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. Beecher’s comes to our city from Seattle’s Pike Place Market, where it opened in 2003, becoming the first artisanal cheese maker in Seattle! Now we’re lucky to have their second retail store in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. The shop opened on Monday so of course I HAD to go check it out this week!
As I walked in the door I was greeted with a sample of delicious fresh cheese curds made in house that day. Cheese curds are super yummy – with a simple, mild cheesy flavor and a springy/rubbery texture. They sort of squeak when you bite them! I read that in the midwest, it is common to find fried cheese curds at carnivals and local food joints. That sounds divine – like mini mozzarella sticks (yes, mozzarella sticks are my weakness from back in the day. I was always a cheese lover – even before I had access to all these fancy cheese shops!).
Anyway, cheese curds only stay fresh for a matter of hours, which brings us to the coolest part of Beecher’s… they have a cheese-making facility right inside the store where they will be making their Flagship cheeses (but with fresh milk from Albany). It’s awesome that cheese is now being made right in NYC!
Here’s a peek at the cheese-making room. They weren’t making anything when I was there so I’ll have to go back for another visit soon. In fact, they have little stools set up so you can grab a sandwich (or some cheese and crackers), plop down on an old milk container and watch them make cheese through the glass. Sounds like an excellent way to spend an afternoon!
PS… I kind of want milk container stools in our new apartment. Aren’t they cool?
Here are a couple more pictures of the very well designed retail space:
Even more amazing… they have a little cheese lounge called “The Cellar” downstairs, where they serve a full menu along with wines and spirits. They also use the “Cellar” to age their Flagship cheeses made upstairs in the cheese kitchen! Awesome.
Ok – so I did my browsing… it was time to head over to the cheese counter and make a selection.
Right away I told the cheese monger that I’m obsessed with Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (which they sell at Beecher’s along with a variety of cheeses produced all over the United States) – and I wanted to try Beecher’s Flagship cheddar to compare. My monger, Emily, was a delight! She put together a little Beecher’s tasting for me to allow me to taste the subtle differences between a few of their specialties. I tasted:
- Beecher’s Flagship – a semi-hard cow’s milk cheddar aged eighteen months with a delicious nutty flavor
- Beecher’s Four-Year Aged Flagship – the same as the original – just aged longer – developing a richer, flavor with more depth
- Beecher’s Flagship Reserve – made with the very best of the milk and wrapped in cloth to age, which results in the cheese losing about eighteen percent of it’s moisture and the flavor being even more concentrated!
- Beecher’s Flagsheep – made in similar fashion as the Flagship but with the addition of sheep’s milk and then clothbound and aged to nutty, sweet perfection!