Brooklyn Slate Blog

April 01, 2014

2nd Annual National Grilled Cheese Day

Help us celebrate our favorite holiday of the year!

Join us on Saturday, April 12 at our store in Red Hook, Brooklyn for complimentary grilled cheese feautring Shelburne Farms cheddar, tomato soup shots by The Splendid Spoon, and live music from Milkman & Sons! While not required, we strongly encourage you to RSVP on Facebook. Brooklyn Slate Company ⋅ 305 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn NY ⋅ view map →

July 09, 2013

Plate the Slate Photo Contest

Show us how you plate your slate! The winning photo submission will win a $50 Brooklyn Slate gift card, redeemable here or at our new store in Brooklyn.

Enter your photo in any of the following ways —

Instagram - post your photo with #brooklynslate
Twitter - tweet your photo @brooklynslate
Facebook - share your photo on our Facebook page

The deadline for entries is Sunday, August 4. There is no limit to the number of entries you may submit. The winning entry will be announced Monday, August 5. Good luck!

Photo credits, clockwise from top left: @victoriatonti; @candyandclothes; @kaufmannmercantile; @markymarkk84; @natthefatrat@natalieykim

April 02, 2013

Join Us for Our Grand Opening!

It's no coincidence that the grand opening of our brick and mortar shop falls on the same weekend as National Grilled Cheese Day.

Join us on Saturday, April 13 at our new store in Red Hook, Brooklyn from noon to four o'clock, when we'll be serving up one of our favorite comfort foods on the house! While not required, we strongly encourage you to RSVP on Facebook. Brooklyn Slate Company ⋅ 305 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn NY ⋅ view map →

November 12, 2012

Introducing the Slate Shack

We're pleased to introduce the Slate Shack, our holiday pop-up shop at the Union Square Holiday Market.

Visit us daily from November 16 — December 24 for cheese boards, coasters, stocking stuffers, and more. Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook for special offers daily and limited run items.

July 06, 2012

Presenting the Campfire Kit

With summer fully underway, we're pleased to bring you our take on the classic s'more.

The Campfire Kit features a bar of Mast Brothers Maine Sea Salt chocolate, a bag of Baked Vanilla Marshmallows, a bag of Castleton Crackers' latest creation, Grafton Graham crackers, and a slate cheese board for fireside plating and sharing. All items are bundled in a cloth satchel for effortless transport to your favorite campfire spot.

You can find the Campfire Kit here.

December 09, 2011

Introducing the Ploughman's Satchel

The pubs of mid-century England gave birth to what we now know as the ploughman's lunch — a hearty meal of cheese, pickles, and peasant bread. We've collaborated with our friends at Rick's Picks to bring you our take on this British staple.

The Ploughman's Satchel features a bag of Castleton Crackers Windham Wheat, a jar of Rick's Picks People's Pickle and Phat Beets, and a quarter pound wedge of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. All items are packed with a black 10" x 14" slate cheese board and recipe card in our Brooklyn Slate tote.

You can find the Ploughman's Satchel here.

October 12, 2011

Plate the Slate Profile: John & Elana Talk About Food

Plate The Slate is an ongoing series profiling some of our favorite chefs, mongers, and producers, and the creative ways in which they use our slate in their establishments and beyond. We hope you enjoy!

A lot of people do a bit of a double take when we mention that Brooklyn Slate Company is a family business. It might be a little less common for people our age to follow their parents down a career path, or it may be that most people have never heard of slate cheese boards, so their curiosity piques at the thought of a legacy built on them.

Elana and John Iaciofano.

But, because of these common 'mis-truths' (sure, we're a family business; no, we don't do the same thing the parents do), we found kindred spirits in John and Elana Iaciofano, the founders, editors, and authors of up-and-coming food blog John and Elana Talk About Food. They too are in a family business, being siblings and all, and followed their passion for Italian food, and inspiration for publicly writing about pasta, after getting advice from their mother.

"Our family has always been really big into food. Our mom is an excellent cook, and currently runs cooking tours to Italy. So, she's been a big influence, and she actually suggested the idea," said Elana in a recent conversation. Elana currently has a day job as a graphic-designer, and trains regularly with a triathlon group, something she's not shy about sharing with her public.

"I kind of enjoy sharing the personal information [on the blog]. I try not to get too personal, but I like sharing family stories or being funny about what's happening in my life."

Which is, in fact, what sets their blog apart. Sure, there are a ton of great resources out there, if you're looking for fine or casual dining and need an instant review, or just got back from the grocery and are kicking it in your kitchen. John and Elana know it, which is why they've decided to make the blog about them, in a good way.

Elana's small obsession for food photography has led her to take classes in the art. In this shot, John and Elana's collection of bruschetta recipes are featured for Memorial Day festivities.

And it works. "There are a lot of just restaurant reviews. There are a lot of just recipe blogs, and we feel our strength is really in our dynamic," says Elana. "Life isn't just going out to eat. Life isn't just cooking at home. There's food culture all around you, and I think that's what we wanted to bring to our blog."

This dynamic seems to be connecting with their readership as well, which peaked this spring and has held steady since. As the blog grows, John and Elana have also raised eyebrows in the cooking community. WordPress, their blogging platform, and Food52, the online home of Amanda Hesser, the former New York Times Food Editor, have both featured them. The real kicker came when Saveur magazine, one of the most popular and well respected of food glossies, mentioned them in an article titled, "50 More Food Blogs You Should Be Reading."

It's hard to make a blog about yourself and not get carried away, especially when you become a minor celebrity in the indie food world, but it hasn't seemed to go to their heads yet. For John, success is measured more in the feedback from their readers than in the positive press.

"Even something simple like an e-mail from a friend who says, 'We went to the restaurant that you just went to, we got exactly what you did, and your recommendations are right on. I can't wait to read the next review,'" says John. "I like that just as much as the Saveur magazine stuff, or Food52 giving us a shout-out."

The majority of the photographs and graphic design at John and Elana Talk About Food are original compositions. Here, inspired by Alexandre Dumas of "The Count of Monte Cristo" fame, are timeless ingredients for the Nineteenth Century Lardo Pizza That Illuminates All.

Although this casual attitude toward the food world may seem natural for a man who's day job is in commercial law, it's more impressive when you learn that John's enthusiastic about making the blog a full-time gig. "I really do have a passion for eating food," he says, with Elana providing a knowing giggle in the background. "Me and Elana went out last night, and I genuinely got excited for piping hot lasagna to be served in front of me. And, I love to write about things that I love."

Elana continues, "One of the strengths, between the two of us, are the different personalities that we bring, and the balance of a male-female perspective. It's very easy, because I write a lot on the blog, for it to get a little female-heavy. So, it's good to have John in there to bring that male perspective every now and again, and make it a little bit more accessible to a broader audience."

We tried to goad them into giving up stories of discord between the two, but came up short. It seems they truly enjoy working together, and get a lot out of the experience, both individually and as siblings. Their schedules don't always match up, and Elana is contemplating a move from their now mutual home of Hoboken, to New York City, but not much has trumped their ideal to create, as Elana puts it, "a humorous, family-oriented, brother-sister take on life with food."

It doesn't seem their readers have a bone to pick with them either. Restaurant reviews can make chefs livid, provoking the plastering of photocopied faces of journalistic scoundrels in public places (see Buddakan’s bounty on New York Times food critic Sam Sifton), but John and Elana's opinions have been overwhelmingly embraced.

John admits that for a family start-up like theirs, home kitchens serve as studios, and Elana's background in design helps to get them noticed by some of the bigger names in food.

"Occasionally, I'll have some dialog with Twitter followers, where I ask them, 'Hey, I didn't really like this,'" said Elana. "For example, we had somebody in California who's been a Twitter follower for awhile, and who has talked about In-and-Out Burger, and how he really likes it. So, I was like, 'Tell me why, because we are underwhelmed here. Sell us!'"

While the goal of John and Elana's blog may not be about setting any records, or inciting any riots, they do take it seriously and are dedicated to posting reviews regularly (up to five a week), and creating a unique experience that isn’t replicated elsewhere. John has devised a unique restaurant rating system ("One of my other passions is movies. Even before the blog started, in my head I would analogize my experiences eating out in a restaurant with movies I have seen," he says), and Elana is currently working on a pizza cookbook, available on the blog this November, with proceeds going to a local food bank ("John and I think we're very lucky that we can walk into Eataly and buy a $6 pint of figs. So, it'd be nice to give back,” says Elana).

Really, John and Elana Talk About Food is about those things we can't imagine anyone taking issue with, which is probably why no one has. Good food? Check. Family recipes? Check. Witty writing? Check. Sharing life experiences with those you love most? Well, we can cheers to that.

August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Help us help our neighbors in Vermont! Damage to Vermont by Hurricane Irene is unprecedented. Two days after the storm hit, record flood levels have wiped out bridges, roads, and buildings, leaving more than three dozen towns completely inaccessible and thousands stranded without power and basic resources. It's difficult to describe the extent of the damage, and the amount of time, money, and resources it will take to rebuild some of the most beautiful and historically significant towns in Vermont. Our hometown of Castleton, Vermont, where much of our slate is sourced from, has suffered severe flooding that has brought day to day life to a halt, including the closing of the town's college where flooding has damaged the recently completed athletic center.

Through September 12, 10% of all our sales will benefit the Vermont Irene Flood Relief Fund, which is distributing 100% of all donations to Vermont businesses and families. Please consider making a contribution by visiting their Facebook page here.

August 19, 2011

Plate the Slate Profile: Beecher's New York

Plate The Slate is an ongoing series profiling some of our favorite chefs, mongers, and producers, and the creative ways in which they use our slate in their establishments. We hope you enjoy!

When Kurt Beecher Dammeier mentioned that his grandfather's first name had been passed down through generations, inspired by the great American preacher Henry Ward Beecher, we couldn't help but recall one of his more empirical quotes: "It's not the work that kills people, it's the worry."

Beecher's New York.

Which may be the only thing to slow Dammeier down, if he were to ever do so. His growing family of food companies, including Beecher's Handmade Cheese, which opened its New York City doors this June, has provided an ample dose of worry, but not without offering a sweet taste of success. 

We joined Dammeier a few weeks back to check out his monstrous milk drums, housed in the new 8,000 sq. ft. retail location in the Flatiron District. Walking into the Beecher's space you'll immediately notice a flurry of activity, and the transparency of their process. By literally building a window around the production of their signature cheeses, Beecher's is opening up curdling and ripening to even the most innocent patron who stumbles in from the street. 

"We wanted to make a cheese that was clearly premium, but ubiquitously likable," says Dammeier. Juxtaposing himself against other well-known purveyors, such as Murray's Cheese, which has multiple locations around the city and is a favorite among foodies, Dammeier's goal has always been to be inclusive rather than exclusive. 

Beecher's Flagship Reserve.

"Murray's is more about cheese like wine. I'm more about cheese like beer. You know, just eat it."

Aside from his casual attitude toward the culture, Dammeier takes the production of Beecher's cheese very seriously. After selling a family printing business, he decided to invest in ventures that were closer to his heart. He acquired Pasta & Co., a Seattle-based chain of specialty food shops, and spent ten years with Pyramid Brewery, another northwest staple, before it was sold to Magic Hat's parent company in 2008.  

When it came to starting something new, Dammeier told us he wanted to find a career that would not only support his family, but encourage their participation. "I wanted a business that would essentially last forever," said Dammeier. "I was looking for things that wouldn't go out of style, or wouldn't have obsolescence."

That's how Beecher's Handmade Cheese was born. When we asked him, why cheese, he had a rather default answer. "Everyone loves cheese," replied Dammeier, a sentiment that definitely extends to him personally as well. "Even as a kid, I'd talk my mom into buying the premium cheddar, rather than Kraft."

The cheese counter at Beecher's New York.

Just Jack grilled cheese sandwich; milk jugs serve as stools for the lunch crowd.

Yet as with all of us, it was Dammeier's life experience that really solidified his passion for the cheese business and his company's overarching mission. He explained how twenty years ago he came down with an ordinary, common cold. Hoping to extinguish it, Dammeier headed to his local Chinese take-out for a cup of hot and sour soup. The next day, he repeated the routine. Five days later, he had a hot and sour soup habit, and was feeling a hell of a lot worse. 

"At the end of those five days, I thought I had a brain tumor. I had never felt worse in my entire life, and I didn't know what was going on," said Dammeier. One of his pals mentioned MSG, the familiar additive found in everything from hot and sour to tortilla chips. The more he looked into the health implications of his diet, the wider his eyes became. 

"That was the loose thread in the sweater, that when pulled on, pulled the whole sweater off."

When Dammeier decided to launch Beecher's, he knew he wanted to open up other people's eyes too. He outlined a broader vision, one that many people scoffed at, to challenge America's popular diet. Now, eight years later, that's what Beecher's is known for.

With the 1% of sales that all of Dammeier's businesses commit to his Flagship Foundation, its staff has teamed up with Washington State University to develop a curriculum for what they term Pure Food Kids Workshops. The workshops target 4th and 5th graders in public schools here in New York, and across the country in Seattle, to expose them to tactics food companies use to market unhealthy meals.

By making "Food Detectives" out of their students, the workshop teaches kids how to find out if a gleaming strawberry printed on the front of a supermarket box indeed harbors any whole foods. "The first time I found out what chemicals were in my food, I was like, 'What? You're kidding me,'" said Dammeier. "In a sense, we are really trying to spark that moment with these kids."

Dammeier has a mission to measure the success of these workshops in teaching rudimentary nutrition tips to children. After the program's first two years, 80% of workshop students reported that the lessons they had learned had changed their eating habits somewhat. More impressive were the 15% of students who reported that it substantially changed not only their own, but their family's eating habits for the better. 

"If our government could do one thing for us, it would be to require transparency," remarked Dammeier. "Rather than tell us what to do, or making people do things that they don't want do, just make everyone tell us what they're doing. We'll make up our own minds."

Selfishly, we found that the most gratifying aspect of Dammeier's commitment to a new American diet is in his role as head chef for The Cellar, the lower-level eatery housed in his New York store. During our visit, we were treated to some of the more popular items on the restaurant’s roster of locally grown plates. Oh, and not to mention a well-curated beverage list. 

We're happy to celebrate Beecher's mission to create not only great American cheese, but a healthier American diet. Dammeier's commitment to both is a solid reflection of another Henry Ward Beecher saying: "It is not well for a man to pray cream and live skim milk."

Beecher's New York — 900 Broadway, New York NY. 212.466.3340.

August 08, 2011

Brooklyn Slate T-Shirts

Today we are pleased to introduce Brooklyn Slate t-shirts! Hand pulled in Brooklyn, our tees feature the Brooklyn Slate logo printed on the front and Plate the Slate slogan on the back. You can pick one up right here.

June 27, 2011

Williams-Sonoma Artisans' Market

This Saturday we're very excited to participate in Williams-Sonoma's Artisans' Market at Columbus Circle! We've teamed up with our friends over at Bedford Cheese Shop and will be serving up some of our favorite artisanal cheeses from New York and Vermont. Come say hi between 10a and 2p, enjoy some delicious cheese, and check out the debut of our newest cheese board! We'll also be joined by some of our favorite producers in Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Brine, Baked, and One Girl Cookies

Williams-Sonoma — 10 Columbus Circle, New York NY. 212.823.6100. 

May 24, 2011

Plate the Slate Profile: City Tavern

We're pleased to present the first in an ongoing series profiling some of our favorite chefs and mongers, and the creative ways in which they use our slate in their establishments. We hope you enjoy!

Jessica Christensen isn't shy about her initiation into the world of fine dining. As an east coast girl turned west coast Chef de Cuisine at Culver City's most inviting new eatery, City Tavern, she admits it was the brief kickback job she landed after a sour experience in the art world that sparked her interest in food.

Chef Jessica Christensen.

"I went to work at a small coffee shop on the beach, and they had the best food ever," said Christensen. "Seriously, people would come in and ask, 'Where did your chef train?' And I'd tell them, 'San Quentin. He learned to cook in jail.'"

The seaside experience helped direct Christensen on the path toward City Tavern. After bouncing around culinary classes at a local community college, she landed in the most unlikely spot, the elite kitchen of Lugua Nigel's Ritz-Carlton. It was there that she saw how invaluable daily cooking experience could be, as well as its ability to offer cut-rate tuition.

"At that point, I realized it was better for me to go into work an hour, two hours early every day and learn for free," said Christensen. "Getting that job at the Ritz was pretty lucky, but, it was old school, very high-end, and ridiculously fussy fine dining."

The bar at City Tavern.

It was Christensen's response to the French culinary tradition tabled at her first restaurant that created such a contrast in her City Tavern menu. The Tavern, an offspring of Culver City's sexier Rush Street establishment, offers authentic dining for a gastropub audience. Although it's home to California state's first table taps (electronic beer dispensers built into booths, and monitored by patrons), Christensen makes clear that her food has no gimmick.

City Tavern's take on the McDonald's classic - Creekstone natural beef burger, sharp cheddar, fixings, and of course special sauce.

City Tavern’s dinner menu showcases small plates with simple, serious ingredients. The grilled crudités is composed of artichoke, spicy and sweet peppers, olives, and smoked sea salt. A plate of Carlsbad luna oysters (to share) is accompanied by a vodka mignonette and fresh horseradish. Lastly, apricot jam and pretzel crisps keep charcuterie and artisanal cheeses casual.

Still, Christensen's enthusiasm for the new project reaches beyond what happens under her gaze, behind the scenes. "I wanted [City Tavern] to be social. [We have] really high-end, quality products across the board, from the beers, to the craft beverages, to the food. It’s not fussy - it's a casual environment. In a lot of ways, it's where I would want to go eat."

Grilled crudités with artichoke, spicy and sweet peppers, olives, and smoked sea salt on Brooklyn Slate.

Heavy wood built-ins and long walls of blackboard help this casual aesthetic along. Many head chefs are discouraged from contributing their ideas on style, but Christensen was offered autonomy in creating her kitchen and showcasing her food. Her search for unique, complimentary pieces inspired the pairing of vintage utensils, simple white plates, and statement slate.

Most of the companies Christensen has courted are small and locally run. "I love the way it all came together,” she says. “It's nice to go with smaller, more personable companies."

City Tavern's table taps, a first for California.

As City Tavern continues to make a name for itself in Culver City, Christensen is dedicated to continuing a tradition of working with good people who create superior products. Soon, City Tavern will team up with local sommeliers, The Beer Chicks and Eagle Creek Brewery, to host an event meant to celebrate local culture, great food, and of course, exceptional beverages.

City Tavern — 9739 Culver Blvd., Culver City CA. 310.838.9739.

May 12, 2011

New Orleans & St. James Cheese Co.

We just returned from a week long trip to New Orleans, where we spent much of our time seeking out some of the city's best eats and live music. The centerpiece of our journey was New Orleans' Jazz & Heritage Festival, hands down the greatest annual event held in the U.S. for the foodie/audiophile.

Now in its 42nd year, JazzFest boasts a stunning lineup of local talent and popular acts across twelve stages — this year included everyone from The Neville Brothers to Arcade Fire — as well as some of the best eats the region has to offer — we're talking oyster beignets, fried bread, muffalettas, and every variation imaginable on the po' boy.

Lionel Batiste of the Treme Brass Band.

Boiled crawfish.

A favorite at Brooklyn Slate — Chris Thile of Brooklyn's Punch Brothers.

A day at JazzFest is complimented by a night exploring the city. Highlights included Bywater BBQ spot The Joint, the questionably inexpensive oysters at Cooter Brown's, and the po' boy at Verti Marte, arguably the best take on the sandwich we've had yet.

Admittedly we were operating on full stomachs for the majority of the week, but our trip to New Orleans wouldn't have been complete without a visit to St. James Cheese Company.

Opened by husband and wife team Richard and Danielle Sutton only the year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, St. James has become the city's staple specialty shop for consumers and chefs alike — the establishment's carefully curated cheese plates have been popping up in restaurants throughout New Orleans.

Owner and head cheesemonger Richard treated us to an assortment of cheese and charcuterie. At front, duck pastrami cured in house.

Abita and daiquiris were our drinks of choice throughout the week, but this hoppy IPA from local favorite Bayou Teche paired nicely with the cheese and charcuterie.

It was tough to leave New Orleans, but we're excited to be back in Brooklyn gearing up for a couple of projects we'll be announcing over the next few weeks and months. More to come soon!

March 01, 2011

Brooklyn Slate Garden

Today we are pleased to introduce Brooklyn Slate Garden, our new collection of slate goods for gardening and outdoor entertaining.

Slate Seedling Marker.

Slate Garden Marker.

Slate Garden Light.

Slate Garden Mat.

You can find more photographs in our Garden lookbook here

December 16, 2010

Plating Cheeses for the Holidays

Cheesemonger Amy Thompson of Lucy's Whey shows us what cheeses she likes to serve up to friends and family for the holidays.

December 02, 2010

A Trip to the Quarry

Our good friends at CamLin Productions produced an amazing video about how we source and manufacture our slate. For more information on CamLin and all the great work they've done, please visit their website here.


December 01, 2010

The Great Stinky Slate Plate Giveaway

We've teamed up with our friends at Stinky Bklyn to give away one cheese and slate gift set for every week in December! Each set includes the following:

  • — 1 Special Edition Slate Cheese Board
  • — 1 set of Slate Beverage Coasters
  • — any one of three 1/4 lb. cheeses from Stinky's cheese selection

How to Enter

Every week in December we'll post a new question on Twitter and our Facebook page. The person who posts the best response within 48 hours wins the gift set.

To qualify on Twitter, simply respond to the question and include @brooklynslate so we can track you down!

If you're on Facebook, keep an eye on our Facebook page for new questions. To qualify, just respond to the question thread.

Please note that while anyone is eligible to enter, we can only ship to addresses within the United States. Entries are limited to one tweet or Facebook comment per week.

Drawing

Winners will be drawn at random once a week and announced on both Twitter and Facebook. Good luck!

November 30, 2010

The Pantry Collective

This holiday season we're proud to present the Pantry Collective, or a gift set collaboration with some of our favorite artisanal producers.

Rather than produce a traditional gift basket that's stuffed to the brim with a random assortment of goods, we set out to create collections where each item in a set serves as an appetizing compliment to the others. To do that, we got together with our friends at Castleton Crackers and Ted & Honey to pair up three cracker flavors with their own jam or chutney. To round out each cracker/spread combination, we've included a block of Shelburne Farms' Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese and a Brooklyn Slate Cheese Board for plating.

You can find all three Pantry Collective sets here.

Pantry Collective No. 001
Castleton Crackers Windham Wheat with Ted & Honey's Harvest Chutney

Pantry Collective No. 002
Castleton Crackers Rutland Rye with Ted & Honey's Smoked Tomato Jam

Pantry Collective No. 003
Castleton Crackers Putney Pumpkin with Ted & Honey's Cranberry Ginger Chutney

November 08, 2010

Fall 2010 Lookbook

For our fall 2010 lookbook, we took a trip up to Vermont and partnered with our favorite snack and cheese accompaniment, Castleton Crackers. We had a great time photographing the company’s latest flavor – the aptly named and incredibly delicious Putney Pumpkin – against some stunning Vermont settings.

You can find more photographs in the lookbook here.

Windham Wheat and cheddar.

Putney Pumpkin and camembrie.

NAT'L GRILLED CHEESE DAY GIVEAWAY

giveaway

Enter to win a $100 gift card redeemable at brooklynslate.com or our shop in Red Hook, Brooklyn.



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