Many a wave of cultural and economic change has swept through New York City’s Lower East Side in the last century. Changing with it, in step for the last 68 years, has been the Essex Street Market, situated along the stretch of Essex between Rivington and Delancey. The neighborhood’s latest wave of hipster gentrification has brought along with it a growing natural food consciousness, and given birth to yet another renaissance within the market.
Leading the whey for the last two years has been Anne Saxelby, the proprietress and cheese maven behind the counter at her eponymous shop, Saxelby Cheesemongers. Anne spent her formative years in the cheese biz working at New York’s temple to all things cheesy, Murray’s in the West Village.
Saxelby’s business is far from being just another gourmet product and cheese shop (a role already played in the Essex Market by the Boston-based mini-chain, Formaggio Kitchen). Instead, she focuses solely on American farmstead cheeses and dairy products, predominately from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast States. Just about everything she sells comes from a farm where Anne has gotten her hands dirty, whether pitching in with milking duties or taking care of affinage.
The level of personal experience that Ms. Saxelby brings to work, combined with her natural enthusiasm and generous hand with providing tastes of her goods, makes for an infectiously enjoyable shopping experience. Customers from the neighborhood as well as from out of town stop by just to say hi and chat. Invariably, they taste. And invariably they leave with something tasty. I’ve been doing the same ever since I first met Anne through mutual friends not long after she opened Saxelby Cheesemongers in May 2006. It’s now a regular stop during my New York junkets.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is Anne's only concession to old world superiority .
In addition to her duties at the market, Anne writes a shop blog. Updated weekly, it provides an easy way to stay abreast of new arrivals, seasonal specialties and her “A Day A-Whey” trips, guided tours to local dairies.
Stall #17 in the Essex Street Market
120 Essex Street (at Delancey)
New York, NY 10002