The Mozzarella Blues.
I made a woeful discovery on Tuesday. Not quite a tragedy (I'd reserve that word for things that happened in other places this week) but still, I set out on a mission in the fine warm weather that Tuesday brought to New York City and instead found sadness and disappointment. Auwe! Alas, alack, and well-a-day!
I brought my camera today to recreate Tuesday's trauma for you.
First, the lead-in:
The company cafeteria was closed for an event. Nothing the in-house coffee bar and snack shop had to offer was appealing to me. I left the building trying to decide what I felt like getting at Duke's (the closest deli) and stepped out into a lovely warm afternoon. We've been having a pleasant, quiet week at the office, and it suddenly hit me that it was the perfect sort of afternoon to treat myself to a sandwich from my hands-down favorite food discovery of 2012, the long-established SoHo cheesemaker Joe's Dairy, home of some of the best danged mozzarella I've ever eaten anywhere including during a couple of summers in Italy (although I was much younger then and didn't always know what to look for). Definitely some of the best "mootz" (to borrow Baydog's term) in my area. They had fresh and smoked and both were amazing, I'd gone quite crazy for the stuff, treated myself and TQ on a fairly regular basis, took the smoked (which travelled better) along with some of the hard sausages Joe's also carried to a couple of family gatherings and other get-togethers - everybody loved it. They also sold sandwiches of a couple of varieties, sundried tomatoes or roasted peppers with fresh or smoked on great chewy rolls. Yum. That's was what I was after on Tuesday.
And now - the photographic re-enactment:
I headed west on Prince Street and then turned right on Sullivan, approaching the shop from the south. All sorts of trendy little eateries on this block, but I hardly notice 'em.
Closed? How? It's Tuesday! Joe's is closed on Mondays! It is Tuesday, right? Yes, yes, it's Tuesday...wait, there's a sign. Maybe this is the week they always go on vacation. Nice week to go on vacation, the week before Memorial Day, yeah, that must be it, proprietors of little mom-and-pop establishments need a break every now and then. Yes. The sign must say that they are on vacation, or temporarily closed due to some family thing...
Let's read it and find out when they'll be open again:
Wait. What???? NOOOOOOO!!!!
Yes, another SoHo classic gone, poof, like Las Brisas del Caribe, my old favorite Cuban hole-in-the-wall (which I was introduced to by an old favorite New Yorker - I wonder what happened to him? Nice guy, his kindness helped me through some very rough times with the kayak company and then we just sort of lost touch), long since replaced by a fancy deli that's exactly like the fancy deli half a block to the north, the fancy deli half a block to the south and the fancy deli across the street and two blocks towards Houston Street.
The shop that housed Joe's is on a nice block in SoHo.
As I said, there are all sorts of trendy little places.
The storefront will surely be snapped up quickly by another hip-yet-cookie-cutter organic fair-trade gluten-free yadda yadda coffee shop -
I might go there, though, if the owner is clever enough to sell sandwiches made with Joe's Dairy mozzarella. The fact that Joe's Dairy is not actually going out of business entirely, just out of retail, was the one thing I was happy to see on that sign. Looking into the closing after returning to the office with a mozzarella sandwich from a fancy sandwich shop nearby (yech, rubbery, definitely not Joe's), I read that the walk-in traffic at the shop just wasn't generating enough revenue to keep it open. That, I guess I can believe - most gourmet food places in NYC you're waiting in lines or taking numbers, here I would always walk in and be served immediately; if there was another person in front of me, they were usually a second from done with their purchase. It's lovely to not have to wait, but I should have recognized that for a bad sign. If I can figure out which local places have it, that would be a big draw for me.
For more details, visit Jeremiah's Vanishing New York.
Glad I at least found out about it before it was too late.
And you know what? When I mentioned the closing of the shop over on Facebook, Baydog said he could actually teach me how to make my own. Funny thing is, it was the shutdown of Las Brisas that started me cooking my own pernil, which I now do rather well, if I may say so myself. Maybe I should try my hand at cheesemaking next.