In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it turn of events, GRAB Specialty Foods, the small gourmet shop on Seventh Avenue near 15th Street, reopened on Friday after being only closed for three days, under new management and with a new name: The Ploughman.
"I live down the street, so when I learned that GRAB was on the market I knew I had to jump at the opportunity," said new owner Alice Piacenza, a culinary industry veteran who purchased the 5-year old shop from previous owner Laura Nuter. "I'd been shopping at GRAB for years."
Fans of GRAB will notice a few changes, but not too many. There's new signage, and everything got a fresh coat of paint, but the store is still laid out the same: cheese and charcuterie along one wall, dry goods along the other, and beer in the back. One new emphasis, however, will be on local products.
"We're going to be concentrating on procuring additional Brooklyn-based products," said Alice. "You'll notice a lot more local dry goods appearing on the shelves in the next couple weeks, and we're also one of the only shops in the city getting some of our cheese directly from the creamery."
Those creameries include Mt. Mansfield from up in Vermont, who produce an insanely delicious cheese called Inspiration that I just had to purchase a wedge of (above, bottom right), as well as Cato Corner Farm in Connecticut.
There's also plenty of charcuterie from local producers like Salumeria Biellese, and it's the first store in the city to stock 40 Weight Coffee, which can also be found at Sweetwolf's a couple blocks away.
Beer is also still a major source of pride here, with 11 draft lines in operation. It's sold in growlers, and soon in 16 oz. Mason jars. Weekly beer tastings are held every Saturday from 4-7 PM; this upcoming weekend will be focused on German import Radeberger.
A name like The Ploughman begs a question: where's the ploughman's lunch? The hearty lunch is most certainly on their list of offerings, and while it changes daily, it contains the same traditional base ingredients: a hunk of cheese, charcuterie, pate, bread, pickles and olives, and a piece of fruit. It goes for $9.95, and if you choose to include one of their 16 oz. to-go beers, it'll cost $14.95. Sounds like a hell of a lunch box!
It's clear from a chat with Alice that she's incredibly proud of her recent acquisition, and has really made it her own. Most of all, though, she just wants it to be a trusted place for the community to find the highest-quality food, with an emphasis on local products and knowledgeable salespeople.
"I want The Ploughman to examplify the ethos of the neighborhood," she said. "We live here, we work here, we play here, we eat here!"
The Ploughman, 438 Seventh Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-369-7595.