Last Saturday whilst left to my own devices I spent a very enjoyable morning basking in the Brooklyn sunshine. I supped at a perfect coffee from the Pedlar Coffee shop on the corner of my block. I have to say when I was working for Melrose and Morgan I was always jealous of the locals who had such a nice place on their doorstop, and often wondered whether they appreciated how lucky they were. Well, now I feel lucky because Pedlar serves consistently fantastic coffee from the Stumptown Roasters and it is a luxury being able to step out and have this on my door step.
Anyways, enjoying coffee, my brilliant book (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay) and the sunshine I decided I would head up to the Brooklyn Larder on Flatbush and see what treats they had. Not quite in my hood but still only a 20 minute walk away. The Larder is the best food store I have found in all New York. Seeing as I cannot pass without entering any store with even the most fleeting connection to food that is a pretty big statement.
They are owned by the couple behind Franny’s restaurant one of the torchbearers for local, seasonal Brooklyn. These guys opened back in 2004 and were soon being rightly hailed for great pizzas and fantastic simple dishes based on well sourced ingredients. The wood roasted sausage with garlic and psb I had last time I was there still lingers in my mind as one of the tastiest things ever.
In 2009 The Brooklyn Larder followed and sells a great selection of cheeses, meats, breads, store cupboard essentials and great prepared treats. The staff are passionate, knowledgable and never afraid to offer a sample.
I wanted to try some American cheeses. Knowing there is more to this place than the Kraft slice I went with some of their recommendations. Tasted a delicious gooey goats cheese called Bonne Bouche, a gentle washed rind called Dorset and some cheddar which unfortunately could not quite live up Neal’s Yards Montys. That said there are definately plenty of local options to keep me interested.
Next I wanted some nice salamis to compliment….since my ‘vegetarian’ girlfriend declared she loved the smell of cheeseburgers i have been slowly testing the waters to discover just how far she will go. Some delicious Finocchiona (fennel salami) and spicy Coppa (cured neck loin) which packed a little punch were perfect. Having already professed her love for Brindisa’s spicy chorizo she is in my mind fully cured of the terrible affliction that is, vegetarianism. So to the salamis I added one of the Larders homemade chorizo sausage. Almost there, I needed some bread (Grandaisy Bakery*), and then to finish something sweet…a chocolate caramel square studded with sea salt.
These treats along with some salad staples, McClures pickles and the best salt and vinegar crisps in the world made up our dinner. The salamis were both excellent, and while the chorizo not quite up to Brindisa standard was nether the less delicious. The caramel square was probably the only weak point for the Larder, and it seems like the hardest thing to find are great sweets.
* Grandaisy Bakery is the remnants of a food divorce that seems, without any inside knowledge to have been fairly amicable. Sullivan Street Bakery started by genius baker Jim Lahey was originally based at 73 Sullivan street in Soho. I remember coming here way back in 2003 when I first visited NYC, it was a revelation. Anyone who knows Exeter St bakery in London will know the bread, but somehow it is a little better here, maybe its the water or the air but it is one of the best bakeries I know. So when the partners split one got the name Sullivan Street Bakery and the other got the original location 73 Sullivan street under the name Grandaisy. So two bakeries using the same recipes, I have never had the chance to sample them side by side but would hazard a guess that Sullivan St still being under the guidance of Lahey has the edge……