I really was not sure what to expect as I rode the Green Line out to the end of the line at Harlem. To be unkind I was not expecting the best, not a ghetto as such, but not an oasis of delight either. What I did find was a lovely little section of streets filled with bistros, cafes, “little shops selling things that you don’t need and won’t buy, but you have to look at anyway for 15 minutes”, and even an independant book shop.
I had rode up specifically to find the Marion Street Cheese market which was easy to locate as it was visible from the train as we rode by. It is on the adjacent road literally 2 minutes walk from the station, it takes up the whole corner and it was much bigger than I expected.
Often when you get a grilled cheese sandwich you get it listed on the menu as being made with three cheeses like Swiss, American, and Cheddar. I knew that at Marion Street I could rely on them to be just a ‘little’ bit more advanced than that. Their grilled cheese is filled with Edelweiss butterkäse, Capriole chèvre, and Tulum cheddar. Not that I could have told you that after taking a bite. But I can copy a menu and then do my research with the best of them. What I could say after a few bites was that it was rich and creamy, and it had such a lucious texture it was almost indescribable. It was so rich that it was almost uncomfortable, but there was the option to have added something to the sandwich like a slice of bacon which I did not take up. That might have been a good idea, just to have added a little saltiness, but really I wanted the pure cheese experience. The Sourdough bread did not help the richness either, it was toasted and buttery and just enhanced the whole rich yummy treat. I am not complaining at all just giving you a little heads up, I ended up with a nice queasy feeling, if there is such a thing? I cannot think of a more savoury description.
It did come with an optional side item and I took the bean salad. This did help counter the richness of the sandwich a little and I did segway bites between the two. The beans were on the crunchy side, and it was interspersed with parsley, red pepper, and red onions.
But we were at a cheese market so lets get back to those cheeses in the sandwich. The Edelweiss butterkäse is produced at Edelweiss Creamery in the Alpine tradition, it has a butter-like texture which is probably given away by the name Butterkäse, the literal translation being ’Butter Cheese’. Check the creamery at their website; http://www.edelweisscreamery.com/about.php. The Capriole chèvre was a goats cheese which actually gave the sandwich a hint a of fresh lemon taste which was quite surprising, this one was produced by Capriole Farmstead Goat Cheeses in Greenville, Indian, check them at their website http://www.capriolegoatcheese.com/. I don’t know where the Tulum cheddar comes from, all I know is that it is a Turkish type of cheese and is a distinctly tangy semi-soft cheese generally made from sheep or goat milk, it does melt well although apparantly it can be rubbery when melted. It isn’t rubbery in this Marion Cheese Market sandwich, unless rubbery is a description of being like a mozzarella type melt, which it was.
Anyhow enough of all that, I have got all carried away in the world of cheese for just a moment there.
I did choose to have a Grilled cheese sandwich, but perhaps I should have been more grown up and had one of their cheese flights or charcuterie platters. I blame the woman sitting on the table next to me, as while I was weighing up my options her grilled cheese arrived and it looked so good I was distracted and somewhat hypnotised into ordering it too.
Luckily one of us at the table was having an adult selection (and you know that wasn’t me already). The items on offer were, from left to right; Dried figs, two slices of Chiriboga Blue cheese, Pear jam, pickles, two slices of Bleu Mont Willi’s Bandaged Cheddar cheese, country pâté, and candied nuts (almonds I think they were). I tasted all of it, even the pickles and it was really really a good choice. I am not a massive fan of blue cheeses, however the Chiriboga blue was quite nice a bit creamy and had a gentle sharpness. The menu described it as ‘dense and creamy with a tangy paste and a clean & earthy mold’. I would say that was pretty accurate description. I did like the Bleu Mont Willi’s Bandaged Cheddar, it was crunchy and nutty a bit like a well aged parmesan. The menu described it as an ‘earthy, fruity creamy cheddar’, I got the earthiness but not really the fruity part, although I did note that it was sweet and sharp, so perhaps that was the same taste sensation only with different words. The pear jam can only be described as simply amazing and quite joyous, it was liquid pear. Mustard was good, fig was good, nuts were nice, pickles were… well they were pickles let’s just leave that there. The only critiscm was that the accompanying bread was a little hard, well the crust was anyway. Still a very decent platter and surprising filling (apparantly) even considering that I was picking at it as well.
I don’t want to leave you with the impression that Marion Street Cheese Market or MSCM for short is just a bistro, it is also a rather excellent deli, specifically and probably unsurprisingly focused on cheese. There are at least three large cheese counters and the central focus above them on the wall is a rather neat chalkboard map of the United States with all the different locations from where the cheeses come from.
Not only all that bit there was a very good selection of chocolates and wine to choose from as well. We did buy some chocolate but lets not talk about that this place is really just all about the cheese.
Take the Green Line and ride all the way to Harlem jump off and get some lunch or dinner, I do not think that you will be disapointed.
Usually at the end of each post I try to list as many of the different social media links for the resturant that I can find. In this case it was easy as they put them all in the window of the bistro for us to look at. Thanks MSCM.
Having said that I will still give you the main link; http://www.marionstreetcheesemarket.com/