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Posts Tagged ‘Gruyere cheese’

This past Columbus Day proposed a serious dilemma for me: what to do with myself? I had the day off from work! On a suggestion from our friend Steve (you may want to follow him on Twitter, he’s very entertaining), I was inspired to make it a Brooklyn day and explore a bunch of different areas, starting with the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens in Prospect Park.

I had never visited the Botanical Gardens and I really enjoyed it. Columbus Day gifted me with some wonderful weather, and I was able to stroll amongst the flowers, trees and buzzing bees… until I got hungry. Which, as you may know by now, happens with alarming frequency.

The next dilemma was: where to lunch? I checked my trusty phone and realized that somewhere else I had never before visited was nearby: the Brooklyn Larder. So I departed the park and headed onto Flatbush Avenue in search of it. I would have stopped at Franny’s and enchant you all with more pizza tales of finely baked crusts and tomatoes, but – alas – they were unfortunately closed.

However, Brooklyn Larder did not disappoint. First, a confession: as a graphic designer, I occasionally experience visual overload. It’s a good thing. It happens when I walk into a place (could be a shop, a museum, a nice street or a gourmet food market) and there is just SO MUCH to look at. So many cool things. So nicely designed. It’s like frolicking in a daisy field or something. For my brain. Anyway, that’s what this place was like for me. I literally had to hold myself back from buying everything. Instead, I took a deep breath and ordered lunch.

Me to friendly girl behind counter, “What should I eat?”

Friendly girl (not at all put off by my question), “Hot or cold?”

Me, “Hot.”

She, “The grilled sandwich with sauteed greens, olives and Taleggio cheese.”

Me, “Fire that up. Please. And a cookie. Maple ginger. Throw that in there too. Please.”

I grabbed a seat at the window-bar area and very soon, my meal was brought over to me (very nice of them considering it’s a deli and I definitely could have walked up there to get it). Here is my lunch:

Lunch was perfection. Truly. The sandwich bread was fresh and nicely toasted – crispy on the outside (and still warm) and chewy on the inside with just the right amount of sandwich filling. The cheese and olives paired wonderfully, neither overpowering the other. As for my cookie, well I was a fan. It had REAL chunks of ginger in it! I expressed my enthusiasm about this to the friendly girl behind the counter (in much the same way as I expressed my enthusiasm for fried pickles at Joe Doe). Her look was appreciative, but also seemed to suggest, “Well, of course. Why wouldn’t there be?” Fair point, fair point.

This seems to be the mantra and general offering of the market: fresh ingredients – either served or packaged (their range of perishable packaged foods like cheese, meats, and duck liver is extensive). They get all their food items that aren’t baked or made on the premises (many of them are) from places close-at-hand. In fact, you can read more about the cookie-baking process and the master mind behind it here.

Before I left I bought a few more things: a huge loaf of sourdough bread from Scratchbread, and a little package of Apple Cider Caramels from Liddabit Sweets which I will talk about later.

After this, I decided to venture out in search of pie. I had been hearing about Four and Twenty Blackbirds Bakery for a while and wanted to go find it. This bakery also gets excellent reviews, but unfortunately for me was closed on that particular day.

Oh well. So onward I walked to Park Slope! Where I discovered that there is an Almondine Bakery! Yes, folks, I do live in a hole. However, the sight of this bakery prompted me to walk to DUMBO (I got some good exercise that day) and go to the Almondine Bakery there. So I did. I first heard about Almondine when I was researching French macarons in New York. I was obsessed with this little cookie. Not the coconut variety called “macaroons“, but a little, flavored sandwich cookie made with meringue and a filling of choice. Almondine’s  macarons are very good. I’m not an expert on these little cookies, but I do like the following features: 1. a meringue cookie that has a delicate (breakable) outer crust that yields nicely to a much softer and flavorful interior, and 2. A filling that actually tastes like the advertised flavor. Almondine achieves both. They also have a nice line-up of other pastries, croissants and tarts.

Then, it was back on the subway to the ‘Boken to examine my purchased treats from Brooklyn Larder. First, was this gargantuan loaf of sourdough bread from Scratchbread. I decided to make dinner out of this beauty. So I cut it into thick slices, fired up the broiler and melted some Gruyere cheese on those bad boys. The bread was delicious. The crust is especially thick and flavorful, while the inside is chewey and nicely textured. The “sour” part of the sourdough is pronounced, which I like. It is a statement bread. I just made that up, but I think it fits. I definitely liked it, and have been eating it for breakfast (toasted with honey) and lunch (toasted with hummus and roasted tomatoes) too.

That about wraps it up for my day in BK (I have rhymed TWICE in this post. Can you find them both? GO!).  I leave you with a few random images in parting, and I would also encourage you to head over the bridge (if you are not already over there) and visit all the aforementioned establishments. Bring me back some cookies.

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Remember on Monday when we made caramelized onions? Your apartment/kitchen/house might be starting to lose the onion smell by now. DON’T PANIC!! You saved those onions, right? Ok, good. Now, we are going to put them on a pizza. With some gruyere cheese.

A few words about this pizza before we begin.

I LOVE it. Ridiculously. I look for excuses to make it. And I force it on others too. It’s very endearing, I’m told. I was first inspired to make this pizza when I had the caramelized onion and gruyere grilled cheese sandwich at the West Village watering hole, Wilfie & Nell. They are quite well known for this particular grilled cheese, and I think they do a bang-up job on it. I loved it. And it seems to me that anything that is good in grilled cheese form is also good in pizza form.

One of the wonderful things about this pizza is that the onions (already caramelized – you held back on the stirring them like a maniac, right?) get nice and crispy as they are baking in the oven on the pizza. Very much like thin cut onion rings. So when the whole thing is done, you get this amazing combination of gooey and salty (cheese) and sweet and crispy (onions). Pile that onto a nicely toasted pizza dough and I don’t know what else you could ask for. Maybe some wine (see the end of the post for Astor Wine’s recommendations).

John had this to say about it: I absolutely love this pizza. The sweet, nutty Gruyere, which is also a great melting cheese, maintains its flavor well even when scorched. It really kicks some tag team ass with the sliced, stringy and cooked onions.  It’s a powerful, yet not overwhelming combo. It also just looks and sounds like a million bucks, which has to add some value if you’re looking to impress somebody.

What you will need (to impress people):

Pizza dough (made or bought)

Gruyere cheese (I like a nice aged one, like THIS ONE from Murray’s Cheese – thanks for the rec, Murray’s!)

Caramelized onions (already made – recipe here)

Olive oil

Sea salt (or if you are feeling adventurous black truffle salt)

What to do:

Heat up your oven (with pizza stone or cookie sheet) to 500 degrees for about a half hour before you drop the hotness in there. While things are heatin’ up, roll out your pizza dough on a peel (utilizing a little cornmeal or semolina flour underneath so your dough doesn’t stick to the peel). Drizzle some olive oil on top of your rolled out dough. Throw on some Gruyere cheese (not too much!) and then top with your caramelized onions. Sprinkle with salt.

Pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes. This is a loose time estimate, though, so keep an eye on it. It will be done with the cheese is bubbling, the onions get really toasty and the edges of your pizza crust are toasting a nice amber color.

Take it out and let it chill for a minute or two (if you can) before you slice and eat!

What to Drink:

On a whim, I tweeted Astor Wines and asked them what you should all drink with this fabulous pizza. They have helpfully offered us three fantastic recommendations, and here they are:

1. Côtes du Jura Blanc, Jean Bourdy – 2005

2. Gewürztraminer, Elena Walch – 2008

3. P’tit Rouquin ” Les Vins Contés” VdT, O. Lemasson – 2009

I went with the Geurztraminer, both because it’s named after me, and it’s from Italy. Which means pizza, right?. Perfect recommendations!

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