Alright, maybe one more stop in the middle...I have heard too much about Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, MI to pass up the opportunity. I stopped in to check out what all the hype is about, and I have to say, this place is serious about food. The small space you see is filled to the brim with goodies that will make any foodie's heart sing ( I had to talk myself out of purchasing a $40 balsamic...it was serious), and the cheese counter was astounding. Paul, the monger on duty, guided me through an extensive Zingerman's cheese tasting (yes, they make about 18 cheeses of their own in the creamery down the street). While several of them were very tasty...the Camembert, produced in partnership with Herve Mons out of France, was undoubtedly the favorite. It is pretty much like eating ice cream, butter, & cheese all rolled into one goey mess of delight. If I had regular access to that...I would be in serious trouble. After my cheese tour, Paul also recommended the ruben as their best sandwich. As my monger for the evening, I trusted him...and was certainly happy that I did. Who knew kraut & corned beef could be that good? Good heavens. I would have to say that Ann Arbor is a lucky place. I would bet my curds that the best deli in Columbus, OH does not hold a candle to this place (ohhhhh snap). Go Blue.
A night at the Motel 6 & 627 miles later, I arrived at my next destination...Brooklyn, where I will stay with dear friends Kris & Judy in exchange for a 6 pack of New Glarus' Spotted Cow. Pretty sweet deal. With one day for each Manhattan & Brooklyn, my time was quite brief...as will be the rest of this posting.
My day in Manhattan included re-visiting some favorites (Saxelby's, Gimme Coffee, etc) as well as a few delicious newbies. I have been meaning to try Porchetta since I caught wind of it's opening. Traditional Roman style pork loin seasoned with goodness (wild fennel pollen being the key here) wrapped in belly fat & slow cooked to absolute perfection. If you like pork like I do...you would love Porchetta (since the menu is pork...or...pork). A brisk 30 blocks later, I stopped in Artisanal, billed as a 'fromogerie & bistro' my visit was well overdue. The place is gigantor & rather fancy for my t-shirt & sneaks get-up, but the cheese assortment was an extensive & beautiful display on the back-center wall. After selecting 3 cheeses for tasting, Hoja Santa from Texas, Grayson from Virginia, & Great Hill Blue from Mass, I sat at the bar & enjoyed a glass of NY Riesling waiting for my plate to arrive. The bread was stale, but the cheese was...interesting & a bit overpowered by the leaf flavor, perfectly stinky & delicious, & classicly blue, in that order. That night I dined with friend at Caracas, an arepa bar in the East Village, and it was absolutely unique & delicious. Arepas, just quickly for those that are not familiar, are a Venezuelan treat...a corn tortilla & pita hybrid of sorts stuffed with goodness. Generally meat & cheese are involved, but not always. The pork shoulder option was my favorite (shocking), but Caracas had several to choose from. Nice pick, Bassam!
My day in Brooklyn was full of new experiences, most of which were on the subway, but I did get around to some fine establishments...eventually. Stinky Bklyn was my first stop & was delighted by the playful interior, wide array of cheese, & small aging cave where the stinky get stinkier. They also have 4 varieties of cured pork & sliced by hand right off the thigh...Euro style (I was too busy being in heaven to take a picture...sorry). Located in Carroll Gardens this is the perfect one-stop picnic shop...cheese, check...Serrano ham, check...fresh crusty bread, check. Perfect.
Next stop was the Bedford Cheese Shop in Williamsburg. A beautiful shop with very unique cheese options. They had two cheeses from the caves of Herve Mons (famous French affinuer), which had which had flavors that matched the uniqueness of their funky rinds & an assortment of Lazy Lady Farms concoctions, a personal favorite of mine. Let's just say...I ended up buying another half pound of cheese to add to my growing cheese cave in the trunk of my car. Poor Mazda. It is about time for a new air freshener.
That eve I enjoyed a delicious meal at Applewood in Park Slope. Completely seasonal menu built with local & sustainable ingredients...this place manages to stay under the radar & the food was absolutely remarkable. I would certainly put it on your list for when you are in the NYC area.
BIG BIG THANK YOU to Kris & Judy for putting my up for 3 nights & giving me a lovely Brooklyn tour. It was truly a treat. This curd is for you!