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Edible: Red Hook Warehouse Gives Local Cheese A Chance

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Edible Magazine's Rachel Wharton visited with a Brooklyn cheesemonger who is all about American cheese and filed the following report.

A brand-new refrigerated warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn is ready for Anne Saxelby's artisanal cheese business, Saxelby Cheesemongers, and it is stocked with domestic cheeses.

"So after four-odd years of doing business in the Essex Market, doing business literally out of a store that was literally 120 square feet, we need a little more space," says Saxelby. "When I started the business it was mainly retail. Customers would just be coming through the market that lived in the neighborhood, buying cheese with their families. And slowly but surely, we kind of gained a following with restaurants as well."

When Saxelby opened her shop five years ago, it was the only place focusing on cheese made not in Europe but nearby. Most shoppers did not even know that existed. Not even her future business partner, Benoit Breal.

"Anne came that day and she did a little presentation about what she was doing and she said, 'Oh these cheeses are American,' and I couldn't believe it. I said, 'There's no way this is possible.'"

Saxelby herself fell for stateside fromage when she took a cheese-making internship on a Connecticut dairy farm.

"And I became fascinated not only with how great the cheese was, but the people who were making it and really kind of learning the stories of how they got into it," says Saxelby. "So after a couple of years of traveling around and interning and learning to make cheese here and abroad, I opened the store with the intention of supporting these local cheesemakers."

Now she has a much bigger refrigerator to store them in -- but don't make the mistake of calling it a "cave."

"People in the cheese world can get a little snotty about that sometimes. A cave should technically be underground," says Saxelby. "But you know, we're trying to create a cave-like environment here at the warehouse, with our big fridge. You know, an environment that makes cheese happy."

Luckily, that makes us happy too. For more information, visit www.ediblemanhattan.com.

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