Cheese & Chocolate at Casellula

I have many obsessions.  Food, Fashion, Firearms ... and Casellula Cheese & Wine Cafe.  I just returned from a 6-day vacation in New York, in fact, where I checked into this social and culinary gem via Foursquare no less than three times.  I earned the Local badge on the 3rd check-in, and I don't even live there.  I'm insane.

CASELLULA in Hell's Kitchen: 401 West 52nd Street  New York, NY 10019
But you must understand, Casellula, to me, is the epitome of what makes New York New York: an eclectic breath of culture, civility, and culinary mastery that operates at its best even after the rest of the world is asleep. A thing you share with discretion, with just your favorite people, lest you ruin its magic by oversharing and making it — eek — trendy.

CASELLULA'S diverse cheese selection, in their central display.
I have been to Casellula five or six times in the last two months, which is amazing given the fact that I live in Los Angeles, and I don't think I've been there before 10pm on a single occasion.  It is my necessary final stop, that perfect cap to any NYC meal, day, or adventure.  Like a culinary tuck-in without which I cannot sleep (I told you, I am insane).

We let the house select this cheese plate, a mix of creamy blue, buttery soft-ripened, and crack-like, salty, nutty pressed cheeses, served with brittle, compote, chutney and lemon curd.
You'll notice that while Casellula's website features lush day-lit photography, all of my personal photos are night shots — dreamy, moonlit, cozy.  Perhaps that is the reason for my love-affair with the place.  The cheese cabinet, cream-soaked chipotle chocolate cake, and chilled orange muscat are all somehow more when experienced via candlelight.

The famous chocolate cake, with Meadowbrook Farm cream, alongside orange muscat.
What's even more, the team that owns and runs Casellula truly loves what they have created: their food, their space, their clientele.  On my third visit in four days, Grady, my favorite member of the staff, treated me and my friends to the so-simple-it's-idiotic chocolate cake.  That's just good business.  And it makes me love this city just a little more — after all, it's not every day you find pure Heaven in the middle of Hell's Kitchen.

Goat cheese hazelnut truffles, served at the end of the meal with a fantastic Madeira.


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