Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Anne Saxelby: My American Idol

Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheese in New York

One of my favorite things to do while I cook is listen to “Cutting the Curd.” It’s a weekly radio show about cheese – yes, such a thing exits – and it’s hosted by one of my cheese idols, Anne Saxelby.

Maybe it’s her Midwestern lilt or the fact that she records in a Brooklyn storage shed, but when her voice comes on I feel like I’m back in Wisconsin – amid the weirdness and the down-to-earth DIY soul of that state.

Lately, Anne’s been hosting a “State of Cheese” series. Last week, I listened to her episode on New Hampshire. Before that, you better believe I tuned in for her Wisconsin show. My fave ever episode, though, is her interview with British writer Patricia Michelson, who conducts her side of the interview from a garden shed.   

So, who is Anne Saxleby? Since I stalk her, I can tell you a few deets.

She used to work for Murray’s in New York. After that, she did a stint at Cato Corner making cheese – including my fave, Hooligan.

Now she runs a cheese shop called Saxelby Cheese in Manhattan’s Essex Street Market. Her stand is about as big as a small cabin cruiser, and it’s only stocked with American dreams. No Kraft. Just artisan cheese from the U.S. Realllllly good artisanal cheese.

Anne Saxelby's cheese case, all American cheese

Anne Saxelby is to artisanal cheese what Starbuck is to Battlestar Galactica – in other words, a fighter pilot. Not everyone believes in American cheese, but Anne Saxleby does. Take a look at her web site, which includes trips into the rural beyond, an almanac of American cheese (her blog, basically), and various beauties for sale. 

Next time you’re in New York, consider stopping by the Essex Street Market to meet her in the flesh – I did, and I got really sweaty palms. I stood around gaping for so long that I missed out on ordering the day’s special: sozzled pearls (cheese marinated in booze).

If you want to sample a flight of fracking good American cheese, Anne is offering a Thanksgiving deal (I know because I get her e-newsletter) that costs under $50. Here is her description:   

Our small turkey day selection features three delectable cheeses: Caspian, a creamy cows' milk cheese made exclusively for Saxelby Cheesemongers by Jasper Hill Farm (each wheel is wrapped in grape leaves soaked with Eden Ice Cider, a local sweet cider made from heirloom varieties of apples), Coomersdale, a bright and nutty sheeps' milk cheese from Bonnieview Farm, and Twig Wheel, a succulent mixed milk stinker (goat & cows' milk) washed with hard cider from Twig Farm.
If you type in the word ‘thanks’ as your promotion code, you can get 15% off.

On the other hand, if you just want to salivate while you're tending the turkey, cue up a little "Cutting the Curd." You'll never think of American cheese the same way.

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