PARK SLOPE — This grilled cheese is gooey, gourmet and grass-fed.
The new sandwich shop Meltkraft opened Tuesday on the busy corner of Ninth Street and Seventh Avenue, but its heart is in the pastures of New Jersey.
The cafe's grilled cheese sandwiches are made with cheese produced from the milk of 700 goats, sheep and cows at Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley.
Farm founder Eran Wajswol, who says he spends most of his waking hours in a mild panic about the perfection of his cheeses, started the small creamery "to get away from large-scale food production."
Almost everything the farm produces is either sold at the farm itself, in greenmarkets in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, or at the creamery's shop on Seventh Avenue and Third Street in Park Slope.
Earlier this year the creamery opened its first grilled cheese shop at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. The success of that venture inspired Wajsol to open another Melkraft in the former Almondine bakery space on Ninth Street.
The menu includes the Valley Thunder sandwich, which crams brisket, macaroni and cheese and aged cheddar between two slices of bread, and the Melter Skelter, which has Raclette-style cheese, barbecue potato chips, jalapeno peppers, watercress and pickled green tomatoes.
Sides include coleslaw made with kale and red cabbage. In addition to the regular menu, Meltkraft's chef will dream up specials based on what's being released from the creamery's 120-foot cave, where cheeses are aged up to two years.
Meltkraft also serves microbrew beer, coffee, espresso drinks and baked items from Balthazar. There's a cheese and charcuterie counter, as well as an ice cream cooler and a small selection of pantry items such as pickles, crackers and olive oil.
While artisanal grilled cheese has become a food truck favorite, Wajsol says his product is the real, locally-sourced deal. "Other grilled cheese places, they just go to the wholesaler, buy blocks of [cheese], and throw it on bread," Wajsol said. "For us, cheese is a little different because we go from the pasture."
For those that want to see exactly where their grilled cheese sandwich comes from, Valley Shepherd Creamery offers tours of its farm, where workers toil seven days a week, milking animals twice a day.
"Farmstead cheese making is all about the passion," Wajsol said. "We do nothing but worry, panic, sweat, and ache to make milk and cheese that comes out perfectly. Then we’re happy for a minute."