Lately news on the Lower East Side has been pretty heavy. So let’s take a little break from all of that. Saxelby Cheesemongers in the Essex Street Market has just kicked off “Grilled Cheese Month.”
Every week during April, Anne Saxelby & Company will be partnering with a different restaurant for a unique grilled cheese creation. This week, Jeremiah Stone of Orchard Street’s Contra has dreamed up a goat cheese, pickled pineapple and nduja (that’s a spicy spreadable salami) sandwich on Pan D’Avignon Pullman.
Next up will be the chefs at Ruffian (on East 7th Street), Grey Lady and Clocktower.
More info on Grilled Cheese Month here.
Starting this week, The Lo-Down will be doing a weekly check-in with local Essex Market merchants.
I went to visit Roni-Sue of Roni-Sue’s Chocolates. She’s moved across the way from her old post and has an updated look and more space. I have to admit I hesitated slightly before trying a piece of chocolate-covered bacon, but, I must say it was good. The taste is rich (could be the lard) chocolaty, crunchy, and salty – what’s not to like? Apparently people are really taking to the maple and bacon lollipops, as well. She gave me a taste of one her favorites, “Down the Hatch”. It’s dark chocolate over toffee with green chili. At first you only taste the chocolate but then the chili slowly sneaks up on you in a strangely satisfying way. Yum.
I finally had a seared salmon sandwich on a roll from Rainbo’s Fish. It was great and is a steal-of-a-deal at $4.50. They are the same guys that make the delicious home-made muffins at Tra La La Juice Bar. Ron, the co-owner and muffin baker, says his favorite muffin of the moment is Banana-Blueberry.
The folks at Puerto Rico Importing Co. gave me an iced coffee, which they make with their house blend, and said yes, the season has definitely started, even though it’s been cool and rainy.
I noticed they are selling small bags of raw sugar labeled “brown sugar” at Essex Farm Groceries, which is also what people are spending a lot of money on these days when it is called Turbanado sugar. Because they buy it in bulk and bag it themselves, they are able to sell the bags for around $1.50, a real steal compared to some similar-sized bags I’ve seen selling for as much as $6.00.
Cheese monger Ann Saxelbly recommends the new sheep’s milk ricotta she just found in Vermont. She says it’s rare to find sheep’s milk ricotta and she loves the taste. It’s somehow more “barnyard-y, in a good way”. She is also featuring little buttons of “3 sisters” cow, sheep and goat milk cheese from Nettle Meadow.
According to the New York Post, the NYPD is dealing with a big increase in assaults downtown, the "city's party mecca." In the Lower East Side, there have been 43 assaults so far in 2009, up 30-percent from 2008. But the The Village (both East and West) topped the LES in violent crimes. The NYPD blames the big late night bar crowds downtown but the article does not explain what might have caused the increases this year.
District 1 City Councilman Alan Gerson barely squeaked out a victory last night in an endorsement meeting of the Village Reform Democratic Club. Gerson was expected to have an easier time – he used to be the president of the club. Gerson's weak attendance record and vote against term limits may have hurt his standing with the VRDC. Challenger Pete Gleason came in second.
Rent Board head Marvin Markus lays out his proposal for "a rent increase exemption," that would allow people who can't afford rent increases to apply for relief.
Saxelby Cheesmongers in the Essex Market trumpets the arrival of handmade corn tortillas from Hot Bread Kitchen. They're made from pure ground corn. Hot Bread Kitchen provides job training and English classes to women who have immigrated from Mexico, Bangladesh, the Phillipines,
Ecuador, Mali, and Afghanistan.