The Cellar at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
SOMETIMES, it’s easier to watch the movie than read the book. Here’s a fun video I did showing you around Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and discussing the cheesemaking process. Look closely at the footage of the cafe floor to see the wide variety of cheese and charcuterie sold at the Cheese Shop. I’ll even talk you through the cheese and meat plate I ordered for my crew. Yum!
Special thanks to Jason Goodfriend, manager and cheesemonger, for the cheese run down before I went on camera to blab about it all.
Need I say more? Cheese is just one of those things you just KNOW you love. You can’t explain it. You don’t know why. It just IS. It’s like when you see a big juicy steak and you know being vegetarian isn’t for you. EVER. (No slight to vegetarians/vegans intended. We all have our tastes, or lack of. I KID, I KID!!!). I remember when I would walk into the foot smell (enticing, isn’t it?) that is the Whole Foods cheese section and just start frothing at the mouth (or was it because of the bite I had gotten earlier from that crazy on the 6 train? Just joking …. kind of).
Anyway, moving on. I wanted everything yet knew nothing. All I felt was intimidation and a sense of being overwhelmed. I would just stare in envy at the different colors and textures and beautiful blues and walk away unless they were doing a tasting. Cheese and wine pairings at restaurants and the classes offered at Whole Foods were so foreign to me. So readily available and yet unattainable.
Five days after I moved to NYC, I got 2 job interviews and one of them was for The Cellar at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. I remember googling the restaurant with pure excitement, wide-eyed, scrolling up and down the pages about their world famous mac and cheese, cheese shop, and cheese making facility. YES YES YES!!! I WANT THIS. I NEED THIS! CAN I HAS THIS??? After my interview and 2 weeks of training and working, I quit my other job.
I have since left The Cellar but it introduced me to so many great people I know I will be friends with for life…
[Photo by Haim Versano]
… One of them being Elbert Ma :O) He has the sass, wit, sarcasm and intelligence that will leave you in a daze. His quips are spot on and lightning fast. His work ethic is top notch and he leads by example. We all complain (as servers, dealing with so many different people with varying moods and maintenance takes a toll sometimes when you’re always “on”), but not everyone complains and still works hard. Elbert is the go-to when you need to learn or ask something. Is this gluten free? What bacteria is in this cheese? Is there shellfish in this dish? Can someone have this dish if they are allergic to A, B, C ? He was a part of the staff that helped to open The Cellar. He is the best person to trail after and I was lucky enough to have him show me the ropes. We clicked instantly. I am thankful that I get to call him my friend. He jokes that we’re sisters, he’s just the much younger, much prettier one. Now that I think of it, he’s definitely not joking.
I’m singling Elbert out but to write about the BFFs I made at Beechers would turn this food post into a love letter. I’ve been very lucky to still see and hang out with my former coworkers.
[Coworker’s Engagement Party- Hi Sammi!]
[Hanging with the boys for my first Pride NYC]
[Silly time in the servers’ station… Look at Elbert’s judge-y eyes =P]
All sappy stuff aside, let’s talk dirty. Let’s talk about cheese. Beecher’s NY is located in the Flatiron district and is made up of a cafe and a restaurant. The top level is the cafe and cheese shop. This is where you grab to-go food, like kale and caesar salads, ginger chicken, macaroni salad and World’s Best Mac ‘n Cheese. If you have a craving for grilled cheese sandwiches, there are plenty to choose from! There’s fig, ham, turkey, ham AND turkey, caprese and plain. If you want to get REALLY naughty, you’ll be smart and grab a tomato soup for dipping. You can take your food out, eat it on the cafe tables or upstairs on the mezzanine that overlooks the cheese making facility on one side and broadway and 20th on the other.
The cheese shop is where it’s at!
A very helpful and knowledgeable staff of cheesemongers will assist you in your quest to find the tastiest cheese.
Not sure if that bleu is TOO bleu? Is that gouda going to be nutty enough? Does that brie melt in your mouth as well as that other one does? Ask for a taste!
There’s also a wide variety of charcuterie to choose from- finocchiona, soppressata, prosciutto, saucisson.
If you’re into cheese pairings with jams and other goodies, Beecher’s is the place to go.
Meyer lemon marmalade, fig jam, strawberry pink peppercorn jam, pickled figs, cornichons, almonds, pecans, honey, castelvetrano olives and chocolate bars! My favorite duo is the You’re My Boy BLUE-berry Bourbon Jam with Vermont Creamory’s Bonne Bouche cheese. If you want to take it an extra step, pair it with a glass of our Sheldrake Rose and some prosciutto.
Let’s step downstairs to The Cellar.
Beecher’s has what is called World’s Best Mac and Cheese. It was once featured on Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things. It is a combination of Beecher’s Flagship cheese and Jack cheese. There are 5 topping options if you order at The Cellar: crab with old bay aioli, mushroom and fennel, curried cauliflower and sweet onion, pork belly and pickled fennel stem and kale and pickled peppers (pictured), my favorite!
The Pork dish pictured is a 5-6oz cut of pork tenderloin that is sliced and placed on top of a corn and pickled peach salad with a corn puree. The plate is rimmed with jalapeno paprika chili oil.
This dish is a Snapper Crudo. It is cured with salt, sugar and juniper berries and covered with cherry wood smoke. It’s garnished with some orange slices, mint and jalapeno along with some olive oil and lemon juice.
***Unfortunately, The Cellar no longer offers the crudo but I figured I’d leave it in to show the range of wonderful and tasty dishes this restaurant serves.***
This burrata is served on top of stone fruits. It’s garnished with microbasil, olive oil and pink peppercorn.
***Fruits and garnishes change with what is in season and available at the local farmer’s market. I believe the current burrata is served with spiced pear jam, cranberry, frisee and hazelnut.***
Lastly, is the cheese and charcuterie board I put together. Our finocchiona is paired with those buttery briny castelvetrano olives. The saucisson is arm and arm with dried cherries.
I’ll start at the cheese placed above the baguette and move clockwise.
Truffle Tremor is a ripened goat cheese with Italian black summer truffles. The Cellar pairs it with fig jam and it is one happy marriage! If you couldn’t tell by how many times I said it in the Youtube video, it’s my favorite!
Barely Buzzed has one of my favorite things about cheese, a unique rind! A special blend of espresso and fresh lavender buds are freshly ground and rubbed on the cheese. It produces a butterscotch and caramel notes and pairs perfectly with caramel mustard.
Jeff’s Select Gouda is one nutty gouda! It has something most goudas do not, an edible rind. Instead of being cured in colder temperatures, it aged in a warm cave. A cave that was once used to make beer. It is paired with marcona almonds at The Cellar. At home, I like to pair it with strawberry and pink peppercorn jam.
Cremont is from Vermont Creamery. It’s a cow and goat cheese mixed with a little bit of Vermont cream. It has a creamy texture similar to the Bonne Bouche cheese. Eyes get drawn to the unique wrinkly, brainy pattern of the rind. It is because of the yeast, geotrichum. A perfect pairing for this cheese is fig jam.
Flagship 4-year is an extra aged version of the cheddared gruyere made in house. It’s richer and nuttier and is heavenly with a little spice from the Thai chili jam. This cheese won 1st place in the category of ‘Mature Cheddar aged 24-48 months’ at the 2015 ACS– American Cheese Society- Annual Competition.
The Cellar at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
New York, NY
Photographer: Matthew Holler Photography
Video: Stephen MacFadden- McFadden Creative
Location: The Cellar at Beechers Handmade Cheese