A Planet Made of Cream Cheese | culture: the word on cheese
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A Planet Made of Cream Cheese

It’s all about hidden gems in the Big Apple; so if you’re going to look like you know your stuff, a good way to start is by knowing your cheese–or, more specifically, your cream cheese. Stop in any deli, bakery, supermarket, or cheese shop, and somewhere you’ll find the rich, soft staple of a New Yorker’s breakfast — and Ben’s Cheese Planet is arguably the king of it all. A seldom-visited, but widely patronized shop in Rockland County, the Friedman family (who own Ben’s Cheese Planet) work in seclusion, carefully guarding their generations-old secret recipe. The store is indeed open for business, but getting there is as daunting as blasting off to Mars; they conduct most of their sales online or through distributors in the city. However, if you really want to taste Ben’s, you don’t have to try that hard–their product is the base for many local bagel shop cream cheeses. The New York Times recently rocketed off to the out-of-this-world shop to learn what all the fuss was about.

“I might go so far as to say it’s my favorite cheese,” said Rob Kaufelt, who sells it at his Murray’s Cheese shops around the city. (You can also find it at stores like Fairway and Zabar’s.)

At Black Seed Bagels, the new bakery in NoLIta where customers have been lining up for Noah Bernamoff’s bagels, the cream cheeses mixed with ingredients like flyingfish roe, horseradish and bluefish are all created from the same base: Ben’s.

Read more at The New York Times

Photo by Tony Cenicola / The New York Times

Nick D'Errico

Nick D'Errico was raised in an Italian family where he developed an appreciation for good food, a fear of flying bedroom slippers, and a love of cheese. He works as an editorial intern at Culture and currently studies writing and publishing (he wanted to be an engineer, but can't do math). In his spare time, he dons 40 lbs of padding and stands in front of rubber projectiles as a hockey goalie.