I haven’t been to the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side for at least a year. Boy, have things changed. The last time I was there Anne Saxelby, the esteemed cheesemonger, had just opened her stall. Most of the purveyors in the market cater to local residents, but Anne and others have brought some interesting new food concepts to the place.
You won’t find a greater advocate for American farmstead cheeses than Anne. When I passed by her stall, she was presiding over her hand-picked, select group of cheeses. I asked for a sheep’s or goat’s milk cheese and she chose Twig Farm’s wonderful goat wheel. Soft and nutty with honey tones, it was incredibly delicious.
Right nearby is Formagio Kitchen’s New York outpost. Based in Cambridge, Mass., this purveyor prides itself on its knowledge of individual cheesemakers and their cheeses. Max, the accommodating cheesemonger, gave me tastes of half a dozen Spanish and Italian cheeses all the while keeping up a nonstop commentary on their origins, aging processes, etc. My favorite, and the one I bought, was a pecorino rosso in which the rind is coated with tomato paste, imparting a delicate sweetness to the cheese.
Next, I stopped by Jeffrey’s Meats. “Do you have a brochure?” I asked the 7th generation butcher. “I’m the brochure,” he said, laughing. If you want alligator or pheasant or just a steak, Larry has it at prices that beat his uptown competitors. I bought some rabbit and veal sausage to cook Sunday night.
At Paradou Marche (an offshoot of the brasserie in the Meatpacking District) which has two stalls — one for pasta, sauces, oils, salts and the like–the other for inventive sandwiches– the accommodating sandwich maker agreed to make me half a sandwich of freshly made pork roast and manchego on a crispy baguette. The buttery, aromatic crunch every time I took a bite left me swooning.
Essex Street Market
120 Essex Street (at Delancey Street)
New York, NY