“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:
And here it is on the plate:
(I served it with my Spiced Eggplant Salad.)
“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!