The Best Butter in America (Beurre Pim)

IMG_1.JPG

“Walk me home,” said Pim after dinner. “I have something for you in the freezer.”

We were at Franny’s, my beloved Park Slope pizzeria, sharing pasta and pizza and a decadent panna cotta for dessert. What could Pim have for me in her freezer? Not even her freezer, but the freezer of the person with whom she was staying? We walked along Flatbush over to Fort Green and up the stairs of this mysterious apartment. And once inside, Pim finally opened the freezer door and removed a pyramid-shaped packet wrapped in parchment.

“Open it,” she said.

Inside was a shimmering, glittering mass of butter.

“What is this?” I asked eagerly.

“This,” declared Pim, “is, I think, the best butter in America.”

The “I think” was Pim being humble because this butter was, I was soon to learn, crafted by Miss Pim herself.

“We have our cow,” said Pim, referring to herself and her boyfriend, Manresa Chef David Kinch. “And it’s from Normandy. So that’s one reason why this butter is the best. The second is that we don’t pasteurize the milk. So it’s not like the super-processed butter you’re used to getting–it’s much more intense.”

Essentially, this butter is the equivalent of French raw-milk cheese; except, instead of stinking to high heaven, it has an elegance and refinement that’d put raw milk cheese to shame.

“Thanks so much, Pim!” I said, upon bidding her farewell.

“Don’t forget to leave it out a little bit before using it,” she suggested. “So it softens up.”

The next day I told Craig all about the butter. “It’s the best butter in America,” I explained. “It comes from a Normandy cow and it’s unpasteurized.”

“Mmmmhmmm,” said Craig, not looking away from the TV.

What could I do with this butter? How to feature it best?

I recalled a sandwich Amanda Hesser writes about in “Cooking For Mr. Latte” made of, simply, a toasted baguette, prosciutto and butter. That’d be a perfect showcase for the butter, wouldn’t it?

I ran to the store–ok, I walked–and retrieved the necessary items. When I got back, I toasted the baguette in the oven, I let the butter sit for a bit, and I unwrapped the prosciutto. Soon I put it all together:

IMG_2.JPG

And here it is on the plate:

IMG_3.JPG

(I served it with my Spiced Eggplant Salad.)

The verdict?

“Mmmm,” said Craig, pulling away from the TV and giving the sandwich a look. “Why does this butter taste so good?”

“Pim made it,” I answered. And indeed the butter was noticeably good: rich, creamy, and–most importantly–it had lots of flavor. Whatever the distance is between a butter and a cheese, this was as close as a butter could get to being a cheese without being a cheese. And we both liked it.

“Can people order this?” I asked Pim, once she revealed her butter story.

“Unfortunately no,” she said. “I only have so much I can make and it’s just enough to give to my friends and to give to the restaurant.” (They serve the butter at Manresa.)

So, readers, if you’re really really nice to me, maybe I’ll have you over for some Pim butter. Or bring Pim butter to your place of employment. Most likely, though, you’ll have to live vicariously through this post. Or buy a Normandy cow of your own; or have dinner at Manresa. Whichever path you choose, however, remember that when Pim tells you she has something for you in the freezer, it’s not the severed head of David Lebovitz. It’s butter–damn good butter. Get it if you can!

23 comments

  1. Yum. Even more reason to get myself to Manresa. I live less than 45 minutes away.

  2. A Normandy cow? I know nothing of cattle, but that does sound impressive. My mother in law has a dairy cow and makes unpasteurized butter, though I’ve never tried it. Maybe I will snag some the next time I see her.

  3. A Normandy cow? I know nothing of cattle, but that does sound impressive. My mother in law has a dairy cow and makes unpasteurized butter, though I’ve never tried it. Maybe I will snag some the next time I see her.

  4. One of my biggest pet peeves regarding restaurants in the states, in NJ/NYC in particular is crappy butter…..the worse being if they have in the little “peel the foil off yourself” things….ick.

    I’m not a brat, but it’s almost a deal breaker for me if the butter is individually packaged.

    Best butter I’ve had is at the Belga Queen in Brussels…..i could have eaten a pound of it….not sure what it was, or if it was packaged, or made there…but my god was it good whatever it was.

  5. Lescure butter from France is available here (at a price) and it’s excellent, for the budget conscious then the imported Lurpak decent too…

  6. I don’t want to burst anyone’s butter bubble (ha!), but having a Normandy cow in NY (right?) kind of defeats the purpose. The reason the Normandy cows are famous for their prized dairy products is, simply, because they graze on the salt-washed slopes OF NORMANDY!

  7. I don’t want to burst anyone’s butter bubble (ha!), but having a Normandy cow in NY (right?) kind of defeats the purpose. The reason the Normandy cows are famous for their prized dairy products is, simply, because they graze on the salt-washed slopes OF NORMANDY!

  8. not to be one of those kinds of people, but franny’s is definitely in prospect heights and not park slope. you can’t let those slope folks take credit for everything!

    awesome article, though.

  9. If you ask David Lebovitz why he stays in Paris, he’ll tell you “for the butter.”

    I bet it’s marvelous.

  10. I must confess I have butter guilt. While I consider myself a fairly healthy cook, I use quite a bit of butter in my recipes. Because of trans fat, I don’t like to use margarine (and I try to go by the French creed that a little bit of something whole is better than a lot of something artificial). Outside of a cow, do you have any good suggestions?

  11. so envious…. Clearly, I need to be friends with Pim and David. Adam, you are my in.

  12. “”We have our cow,” said Pim, referring to herself and her boyfriend, Manresa Chef David Kinch.”

    i had to read this sentence a couple times

  13. I like the way you set up this story Adam. It definitely follows the plot structure of the hero’s journey starting with the gift of the mystical butter.

  14. I really want to try that butter! Absolutely something I have a passion for. A crusty baguette, some great butter and some sea salt may well be my “death row meal.”

    I’ll buy you and/or Pim a recession special at the village Gray’s Papaya in exchange for a glob of the stuff!

    Or if you’re in Jersey City anytime (the sixth borough right across the Hudson) I’ll take you to a restaurant out here. Just a PATH train away =P

  15. Sounds like one of those fairy tale stories about “how I found the best butter in the world.” I want to try it :)

  16. This is such a well-written post! You have me salivating and typing at the same time.

    I love the ham-and-swiss sandwich at Bouchon Bakery. Since I can’t have buerre Pim, I *suppose* that will suffice.

  17. This is such a well-written post! You have me salivating and typing at the same time.

    I love the ham-and-swiss sandwich at Bouchon Bakery. Since I can’t have buerre Pim, I *suppose* that will suffice.

  18. That butter sounds and looks delicious. If only there was more for us! I’ve found some success in obtaining great butter in the park slope/prospect heights area, most notably at Blue Apron. Any suggestions for the neighborhood?

  19. That butter sounds and looks delicious. If only there was more for us! I’ve found some success in obtaining great butter in the park slope/prospect heights area, most notably at Blue Apron. Any suggestions for the neighborhood?

  20. That butter sounds and looks delicious. If only there was more for us! I’ve found some success in obtaining great butter in the park slope/prospect heights area, most notably at Blue Apron. Any suggestions for the neighborhood?

  21. this is one of the CRUELEST food posts i’ve ever seen–a butter knife through the heart of a butter worshiper!!!

    *sniff*

    *licking monitor*

    *wail!*

  22. Hi Adam,

    Thanks for the praise. Glad you liked it. Sorry it’s taken me a while to post a comment, I was actually in Paris eating more butter. :-)

    Thanks everyone else for the sweet words too.

    Hi Food Person,

    No, there are not many cows by the sea in Normandy. They are mostly inland and the pasture is certainly not salt-washed. You might be confusing it with the pré-salé lambs near Mt.Saint Michel. I don’t deny that what and where the cows grace on make a difference, but so does the race of the cows themselves. Normande cows gracing in pastures in Northern California make pretty fabulous milk as well.

    cheers,

    Pim

    P.S. To everyone else who want to try this butter, you can always come to dinner at Manresa.

%d bloggers like this: