Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile
For several years, when people asked what is missing from the Elmwood Village area, I have said the following: a cheese shop, a deli and/or butcher, somewhere that sells kitchen and pantry gems. I’m thrilled to report that several of those desires will be satisfied with Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile. Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile is a full service, European inspired, neighborhood cheese and specialty food store on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo.
Before visiting on their opening day, Tuesday, March 6, I had the pleasure of eating Nickel City Cheese’s offerings twice — at a Yelp Buffalo event last week at City Wine Merchant and at a farm fundraiser by Feed Your Soul, called “A Big Fuss,” about a month back. Both times, every bite I enjoyed was memorable. The creamy brie, paired with Marcona almonds and dried cranberries, was my favorite. The goat cheese filled truffles made my mouth water. At the Yelp event, smearing the brie on Five Points Bakery bread and sipping some Arrowhead Spring Vineyards Chardonnay was incredible. The cheese was the centerpiece of a beautiful Buffalo-based gastronomic experience.
The owner, Jill Forster, is the sister of Steve Gedra, owner/chef at Bistro Europa, which is on my short list of favorite Buffalo restaurants. Click here for more on Jill’s background. She is as knowledgeable as she is sweet. While fielding questions, she was cutting wedges of cheese and enthusiastically sharing tidbits and trivia about each. Other treasures in the cheese case include speck, prosciutto, jamón serrano and smoked salmon. The speck, which we sampled while ordering some other goodies, was bursting with smoky and spicy hints. If you’ve never had it but you like prosciutto and you’re a fan of other smoked meats, consider yourself sold.
In addition to offering a host of cheeses, there are honeys, jams, nuts, olives, vinegars, olive oils, sea salts, chocolates, candies, teas, coffees, pates, salamis and other pantry essentials. I spotted countless items I haven’t seen on the shelves of a story in Buffalo before, including San Pellegrino Chinotto in tiny glass bottles, so I scanned each row of shelves anxious to see what was next. Beautifully wrapped Mast Brothers chocolate bars studded with everything from sea salt and almonds to unthinkable delights, such as black truffles and Stumptown Coffee. Bins filled with pasta of every shape sit beneath jars of San Marzano tomatoes. Marcona almond butter and Lucille’s Kitchen Garden’s garlic pepper jam and blueberry pepper jam. Glorious crackers, from wafer thin to nutty, traditional to exotic.
Take-out sandwiches and panini are available daily, along with house made macaroni and cheese. Cheese and charcuterie platters can be custom made as well. If you’re having a dinner party or get together at your home, you can count on Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile to have unique items to make up a wonderful spread.
There are few stores where every single item calls out to you, but when it happens you know you’ll be back for more and more. I exercised enormous restraint by purchasing three kinds of cheese — Cypress Grove Humbolt Fog (pictured above), Alemar Bent River Camembert and St. Angel Triple Cream; jamón serrano; Nordic Creamery cinnamon sugar butter; and one wild card item, a small silver tube of Taste #5 Umami paste. Oh, and I got a couple Sarah Walley macarons because she just released new flavors, which I had to try! We tasted the cinnamon chocolate and sweet carrot with cream cheese.
Jill also plans to hold cheese classes on her patio in the warm months. I’m not sure my heart, already bursting with enthusiasm, can take much more!
I sense that Jill is starting something amazing here. I already feel like we are truly lucky to have her and this shop in Buffalo! I can’t wait to go back. I am already considering myself a regular.
Current hours of operation: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; and closed on Sunday.