Aging cheese, the Red Hook way

Aging cheese, the Red Hook way
Community Newspaper Group / Julie Rosenberg

Red Hook is about to become the center of the cheese-eating world.

Saxelby Cheesemonger — which operates out of a tiny stand in the Essex Street Market in Manhattan — has just built a cheese-aging facility on Imlay Street, a temperature-, ventilation-, and humidity-controlled walk-in “cave” that is nothing short of a game-changer for the specialty dairy seller.

“We really needed a space to store our cheeses and conduct our wholesale business, and this was perfect,” said co-owner Benoit Breal. “It’s close to where [co-owner] Anne Saxelby and I live in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, so we get to walk to work in the morning.”

Saxelby’s has long been a big cheese in the artisan food world, acting as a bridge between farmers and consumers to bring high quality farmstead products to the city, but its growing popularity with the local foodie elite and increased restaurant demand necessitated the Brooklyn expansion.

In just a few months, Saxelby Cheesemongers has more than doubled its distribution to Brooklyn restaurants — providing to such quality spots as Applewood, Benchmark, iCi, Diner, and Local 61.

“We’re especially excited about a new partnership with our friends from Salvatore Bklyn,” said Breal. “We’re acting as the exclusive distributor of their ricotta, so they can concentrate solely on creating their wonderful product.”

As of now, the ricotta is the only Saxelby’s cheese that can be found in stores, such as Bklyn Larder in Park Slope and Green Grape Provisions in Fort Greene.

“We hope to branch out into retail eventually,” said Breal, a Frenchman who was forced to admit that his new climate-controlled fridge is better than the musty, stone-walled caves of his homeland. “There are just so many projects we need to work on first.”

So for now, at least, Fairway is breathing easy.

For information, visit www.saxelbycheese.com.