Located in the historic Monti Building on Bergen Street in Crown Heights, Crown Finish Caves is Brooklyn’s first cheese-aging facility and distribution center, and it represents just part of the vision of a dedicated, progressive pair of local entrepreneurs.
In 2001 Benton Brown and Susan Boyle, an innovative husband-and-wife team of Brooklyn developers, purchased the Monti Building and an adjacent icehouse and renovated all 60,000 square feet into environmentally conscious commercial and residential space. The site was once the home of Nassau Brewery, which fermented and stored lagers in the building’s basement tunnels until 1917. The idea of food production had been on Benton’s mind for years, and cheesemaking had become a recent fascination. His epiphany came with closer scrutiny of those 70 feet of basement tunnels under the Monti building. They were perfect for aging cheese!
Benton decided to launch himself into affinage, the art and craft of cheese ripening. He consulted with the cavemasters at the Cellars of Jasper Hill, traveled to France and studied with legendary affineur Hervé Mons, and then sought technical advice in finding the best possible refrigeration and climate control. This past May, Crown Finish Caves was open for aging.
And if timing is everything, good fortune came Benton’s way when Vermont master cheesemaker Peter Dixon and his wife Rachel embarked on their new venture: Parish Hill Creamery. Benton sought advice from Peter as he was putting together the new Brooklyn-based cheese caves, and that conversation quickly turned into a partnership. Parish Hill became Crown Finish’s first tenant in the new aging facility.
Peter has been making cheese for thirty years, and his dedication to traditional methods—using unpasteurized milk from pasture-grazed herds, creating his own cultures and microflora at the dairy, and coagulating with traditional calves’ rennet—made Crown Finish a natural outlet for his new selection of cheeses.
Union Market will be carrying these newly-aged, new age cheeses from Parish Hill Creamery and Crown Finish Caves, including:
WEST WEST BLUE
A dense and zesty two curd Gorgozola-inspired blue
A smooth and meaty brushed-rind in the style of Tomme de Savoie
A sharp, nutty, nine-month aged Asiago-style cheese
A bold, stretched-curd creation, in the style of provolone or caciocavallo
A milky, tangy, wild-molded toma, aged 5 months