Thursday, March 8, 2007

A Quick Trip to New York: Day Two

Over the course of a relaxing breakfast, and after seeing Sarah off to work, Peter and I decided on a mellower itinerary for Thursday. Between the forecast for foul weather and a desire to get back down to Philly early enough to have a productive evening, we would be hitting the road mid-afternoon. Accordingly, we pointed ourselves downtown with just a couple of destinations in mind.

Our fourth for dinner the previous evening was a good friend of Sarah's, Anne Saxelby, the young entrepreneur responsible for the eponymous Saxelby Cheesemongers. Our first stop of the day would be her minute but wonderful shop, located in the Essex Street Market (120 Essex Street, between Rivington and Delancey). The focus at Saxelby is clear and simple: American farmstead cheeses. Most of the produce Anne sells comes from dairies where she's spent time working and learning about each purveyor's particular craft. We had the luck and pleasure that day of finding one of those very cheesemakers -- Debby from Meadow Creek Dairy in Galax, Virginia -- hanging out at Anne's stall. After tasting Meadow Creek's produce and a few other of Anne's current favorites, we grabbed some bread with lunch in mind and headed back to the streets.

Winding our way South and West through the fringes of both Little Italy and Chinatown, our next and final destination would be Tribeca's Chambers Street Wines (160 Chambers Street, between Greenwich and W. Broadway). One of Peter's favorite shops, Chambers Street had been on my must visit list for quite some time but I'd somehow never managed to make it. He was keen to get my opinion of the shop and I was keen to visit based on their reputation for service, knowledge and an eclectic selection of small producer wines. Unlike Rosenthal, which we'd visited the day before, Chambers Street is a somewhat more typical specialty shop. Wines are laid out in a reasonably browsing-friendly fashion (though I found it could still be difficult to locate the stock of a selected item without just grabbing the display bottle). And their selection covers a fairly full spectrum of the international market. Like at Rosenthal, however, Chambers' strength was in Europe, most clearly in the Loire, Burgundy, Rhône and Piedmont. While far from being a single distributor shop, there is a particular focus on the French wines of importer Louis-Dressner. Happily, there is also one of the finer selections of Austrian wines I've found in the states, from quality producers such as Alzinger, Nikolaihof, Hirsch and Emrich Knoll.

After spending a nice chunk of time chatting with one of the shop owners and several of the staff, I buckled down to the business of picking out some interesting stuff. After finally culling the options down to a combination of some old favorites and a few new discoveries such as the wonderful Beaujolais of Terres Dorées, we settled up and headed for home. With mixed case in hand -- half for me and half for a good friend back in Wilmington -- we stepped out onto Chambers Street and practically right into a passing, available taxi. Luck seemed to be on our side that day, as the predicted rain had just started to fall....

Back at Pete's, we polished off some mighty tasty sandwiches from the previous night's leftover pork roast, packed up the car and hit the road for points South, bringing to an end a worthy and much enjoyed quick trip to New York.

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