Casellula (Hell’s Kitchen)

What possible excuse could you have for not yet eating at Casellula?  Surely you’ve heard of it – the “cheese hut”, the tiny bistro on 52nd Street, just past 9th Avenue?  It is absolutely imperative that you dine there immediately.  This small wonder is slowly blossoming into a truly fine eating establishment, and you could be experiencing that firsthand!  I’ve already been there three times, and it literally got better every time I went!

Look, just click on their web site link up there.  It’s okay, I’ll still be here when you get back.

Did you see that?  They’ve got 35-40 cheeses from all over the world to nosh on; and believe me when I tell you, that list changes constantly – the web site is not up to date, but it’s because they’re rotating new cheeses in and out every day.  The wine list is filled with exquisite and expertly picked vintages, and the food menu has literally tripled in size since they first opened.  And now they’re starting BRUNCH on the weekends.  Can you feel the excitement?  My hands tremble with delight at the very thought.

I also had no idea that they offered classes and events every Monday night… and the last time I went was just on the Monday when they had “The Cheeses of Louis XIV”.  I was disappointed to learn that I’d missed out on that one – but the meal SO made up for my lack of awareness.

My companion and I ordered a plate of four cheeses (they can be ordered a la carte for US$5.00 each or in collections artfully chosen by fromager Tia Keenan – a woman with impeccable taste matching abilities who pairs your chosen cheese with ideally flavored items), a plate of three meats with dijon mustard, a bowl of olives, and some wine.  The selections were as follows:

pau sauvage (spanish herbal goat) – a light and smooth cheese covered with aromatic and pungent herbs, paired with dried cranberries

selerais [?] (grass covered Italian cow/goat/sheep?) – a sweet ricotta-like pressed cheese made earthy by virtue of being wrapped in hay, paired with fresh yellow and red cherry tomatoes

farmhouse cheddar – an exemplar of fine cheddar, paired with sweet zucchini relish

ewephoria sheep gouda – a nutty, parmesean like presentation of a cheese, paired with fried onion crisps and sweet hot mustard

smoked goose breast – salty and smoky, almost ham-like taste with a beef texture

wild boar – tender and sweet

duck sausage – delightfullly savory

Fornace di Cerrito, Barbera d’Asti

And last but not least – we partook of the ultimate Summer dessert: perfection in a champagne flute, the berry buttermilk shake.  A smooth, creamy, frozen mousse-like delight made of buttermilk ice cream and fresh blueberries blended together, and garnished with frozen blackberries and strawberries, each soaked in a different red wine, packing an incredible explosion of flavors within the crunchy, cold, juicy berries.  When you order this dessert, order at least two of them, and thank me later.

I will be going again, and soon, and again and again after that until the place becomes too crowded to enter, as I know it eventually will.  Don’t forget to bring cash when you go (though a convenient ATM is located right in the grocery store on the corner of 9th)!

[Where: 401 W. 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019]

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