A couple of weeks ago I told you about a sweet new culinary shop coming to Elmwood called Tuscany on Main
. Since that time I have also learned about a second culinary destination opening next door (in the former Tabree location), which will be called Nickel City Cheese and Mercantile (NCCM). The opening of this shop rings a couple of familiar bells, and brings the urban culinary scene full circle in a myriad ways. The owner of this cheese business, Jill Forster, has just moved back to Buffalo after being away for 20 years - a return that appears to be a growing trend
? And her brother is Steve Gedra of the beloved Europa Bistro
(also on Elmwood). If that isn't enough, Jill is also friends with Jim and Marlena Maloney, owners of Tuscany, who will partake in many of the culinary classes that will take place on NCCM's expansive back patio.
To get a better idea about where Jill is coming from, literally and figuratively, I asked her how she ended up landing back in Buffalo, and how she came to love cheese so much. "I came back for my family," she told me. "I left Buffalo to go to culinary school when I was 19. A few years ago I watched my brother move back, and I've seen what he has done with his restaurant. He's so happy, and he's doing really well. One day I was talking to him and he said that I should move back. Before I knew it I was back in Buffalo and planning a business concept that has been in the back of my mind for ten years. I always wanted to open a gourmet market, but in recent years I have fallen in love with cheese - stinky French cheese is my favorite. I got into cheese when living in Boston, and I feel that Buffalo is ready to experience some of the best cheeses from around the globe.
"NCCM will be an approximately 900 sq.' market, and I'm going to use the back patio for cheese classes and culinary events. Even Europa will participate with dinners out on the patio. Tuscany will also have access to the space for their classes. We're going to make our own gourmet sandwiches and we'll be offering a weekly flavor of mac and cheese. I really like plain good old gruyere mac and cheese, though the Buffalo chicken wing mac and cheese is soooo good - Buffalonians will love it - it tastes just like chicken wings. We'll have specialty gourmet products including cured meats (currently being cured across the street at Europa), sea salts, crackers, honeys, jellies, an olive bar (not the typical supermarket olives - they will be imported and delicious), chocolates... and I hope to have beer and/or wine in some capacity some day. At some point we'll have cheese knives and boards, etc, but right now my focus is getting the food into the store. I'm going to get to know my cheese loving customers - I'll introduce them to new cheeses and I'll record what they like the most. I didn't spend the last few years studying cheese for the fun of it... although it was fun [laughing]. I want to share my knowledge. Whether it's sampling a cheese or attending a cheese class, NCCM is going to be a place for food lovers to take away an appreciation for many foods that just aren't available here yet. I'm planning on opening at the beginning of February."
Nickel City Cheese and Mercantile
423 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo NY 14222