Just up the road from my house there is a monastery where the Trappist sisters wear homespun robes with wide tanned leather belts and make and sell cheese. They are open every day, and you go in and there is no shop, just a sister behind a door and a standard white kitchen fridgidaire filled with glossy red waxed boules of handmade cheese. You give her a check, she gives you a new gouda, heavy and shiny, and silently blesses you as you quietly leave. The whole thing feels like a kind of sacrosanct drug deal. And the cheese. Well, you keep your fingers crossed when you cut into it because since you did the whole shady-monastery-cash-for-cheese re-up you want it to be incredible, and it is. It’s buttery and mild and sweet and just hard enough to go perfectly with a crusty bread and a little white wine. Thank you, sisters.
I simply can’t get enough of the divine and positively louche cheese spread on Saxelby Cheese over at the Selby. She arrived at the Essex Street Market around the same time I started frequenting it, and in one of those weird secret girl-crushes, I think trail blazing cheesemonger extraordinairess Anne Saxelby is one of those ladies that, you know, we’d really hit it off if we ever met in person, you know, just like Zooey Deschanel or Michelle Obama, but with cheese, you know? Here, in typical Selby fashion, her illustration of the ideal cheese cave, why parmigiano is like Elvis, and instructions on how to make something that sounds absolutely incredible, her “bourbon soaked grape leaf cheese wrap”: