BB: We love the Little Silver Sickles. It’s everything! Please tell us how the Red Bank location is different. What was the genesis for opening a 2nd location.
Sickles: Thank you, that’s very kind! We love it too. Our Red Bank location has a different look and feel, that’s more modern and urban. It was designed to fit into the town, and into the beautiful historic building we are so pleased to be in. This location is very food focused, without the garden center in Little Silver, you will find incredible seafood, next level charcuterie and cheeses, a to-go menu from the Deli, called “Bites by Sickles” try the Crispy Calamari Salad or the Grilled Steak Sandwich! Our gourmet grocery is filled with products that are unique and new to Sickles. The bakery – be sure to try the Birthday Cake Scone! There is a mix of everything you love about the OG Sickles with lots of new deliciousness to explore. The opportunity to open this new location came to us from the wonderful team at Metrovation. We always saw the potential for growth, and over the years realized that Sickles is a strong brand with strong roots, it just seemed right to plant another seed and challenge ourselves to do more. It hasn’t been easy to open a new location alongside the pandemic but our team is really wonderful, so much talent and hard work.
BB: The Red Bank design is awesome. What came first? The location or the design concept? How would you describe the red bank shop?
Sickles: Thanks! The Anderson Building is Circa 1909 (we’re 1908)! Just a fun fact! The location came first and we worked with a wonderful construction team and a designer that brought our vision to life of a more modern upscale design that we feel fits.
BB: Tell us about your cheeses. How many varieties of cheese do you carry? From how many different countries? What’s the most popular? For pairing cheese? How many varieties of cheese do you carry?
Sickles: We carry 150 cheeses, plus. This number grows and shrinks. The styles include Alpines, Ossau Iraty, pecorinos, bloomy rinds like triple cremes, brie, and robiola, block cheddars, cloth bounds, Goudas, semi aged goat cheeses, blue cheese, washed rinds, and more!
BB: From how many different countries?
Sickles: At least 10 different countries but this number will grow and shrink depending on our selection at the time. Countries include France, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Greece, Australia, United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, and The United States.
BB: What’s the most popular?
Sickles: Parmigiano Reggiano is king! Then those luscious triple cremes for sure like Cremeux des Citeaux by Rodolphe Le Meunier. Hornbacher is a very popular Alpine that we love bringing in from Gourmino. Our crowd loves their truffles so Moliterno al Tartufo is high up on the charts.
BB: Do you have any advice for storing cheese?
Sickles: Absolutely! Condensation is a cheese’s enemy. Best way to wrap cheese is in cheese paper. I always tell customers to please ask us if they need cheese paper and we will offer them some sheets. By far the best way to store cheese. Store your cheese in a cold and dry environment. Never place your cheese in a Ziploc. This creates condensation and destroys the integrity of the cheese and can create unwanted mold growth. If you keep a cheese for as little as a week, whether it be in plastic wrap, cheese paper, or the unfortunate Ziploc, mold growth is not unusual. Does this mean a cheese is bad? Not at all! Inspect the cheese. It could be perfectly fine and as delicious as it was at the time of sale. Cut or shave the mold off the cheese and it should be fine. Black mold is slightly concerning but still inspect the cheese. Orange or pink color on the rind of bloomy rinds is what we call rind rot. That is also concerning but even so the rest of your brie could still be delicious with those classic notes of mushroom and broccoli. Smell the cheese. If it has this rind rot and smells ammoniated, it has a chance of being spoiled. When a cheese smells ammoniated, sometimes it just needs to breathe. Meaning, let it sit out, unwrapped. After an hour of sitting out, smell the cheese. If it still smells ammoniated, then that is a sign of spoilage. I personally will take it a step further and taste the cheese. Some of the best brie I have had had such funky rinds! Tasting a cheese is truly the only sure sign that you know a cheese is bad. If it tastes ammoniated or what I like to call, soapy, then it is for sure bad.
The best thing you can do when you buy cheese, is making sure that is properly stored. In cheese paper and out of warm humid environments.
BB: We love Dan at the Little Silver shop and are in awe of his cheese knowledge. Is he a connoisseur? Do you have other experts on staff?
Sickles: Dan has an incredible wealth of knowledge yes! The entire team is FANTASTIC in both Red Bank and Little Silver! I am so proud to have them all on our team, and we couldn’t be luckier. Jane, another great member of our team was very helpful in answering your question, and it’s important to note that each team member knows so much and everyone has their favorites. It’s worth getting to know them all when it comes to fine cheese and charcuterie.
BB: How many varieties of olive oil do you carry? Is there one in particular you highly recommend? What types of olive oils are essential for serious chefs?
Sickles: We have around 30-40 olive oils to choose from at any given time! We just got three wonderful new Olive Oils from the 2020 Harvest, that no one should miss! I am particularly excited about
Frescobaldi Laudemio 2020 Freshly Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil – this olive oil is SO GREEN. It comes from the hills surrounding Florence Italy. It’s considered a Tuscan Olive oil with a nice spiciness and bitterness.
BB: What is a much loved, but overlooked item you recommend everyone try? (I ask as many years ago, I read an interview with your dad who said the biggest mistake most people make is not paying up for better pasta. I heeded his advice, and boy, was it a game changer!)
Sickles: Our seafood departments are really special. Seafood is generally more expensive and it’s a newer department for us, but I really hope everyone takes time to explore it. Not only do we have the basics, like delicious scallops and salmon always in stock but our Fishmongers create things like Oyster Rockefeller, and spicy swordfish bites with a Cajun spice! It’s a great department for healthy dinner inspiration!
BB: What makes a great hostess gift at $10, $25, $50?
Sickles: From little Silver a tropical plant! We have a wide assortment for any budget and we have all these different beautiful varieties! Also with the proper care, tropical plants can have such a long life. They are a lovely gift that lasts. Also Dried Flower Bouquets are a new favorite of mine. They are vibrant colors and they last and last, at $25 they are a seriously good deal, if you like to have flowers around but don’t want to buy fresh ones regularly, they are the perfect for yourself (or someone else!)
From Red Bank – try our Gourmet Department! A nice hot sauce or olive oil, or good chocolate, is a winning gift for any host or hostess!
BB: The fish department looks amazing. Was there a tremendous learning curve to opening this department? Do you have a philosophy for how you choose which fish to buy? Any interesting types of fish you recommend people try?
Sickles: See my above overlooked item! My suggestion is to research what’s in season before you buy and to always ask our team for recommendations. They are passionate and will not steer you wrong!
BB: We are most in love with Sickles produce. It’s simply the best. How do you source suppliers? How do you explain the higher quality of your selection? Is this the most tricky inventory to manage? What are some products we can expect to find at sickles that are typically unavailable at other shops?
Sickles: We are lucky to have wonderful relationships with local farmers for decades! Our Dad, Bob is a produce expert. He always knows what’s in season and what customers will gravitate towards. We have a wonderful produce team that has their ordering down to a science. We do a lot of research on trends, for example we had pink pineapple this year which was a huge trending internet phenomena! We had amazing mandarins this year, the season is almost over, so I recommend jumping on it now! Citrus season is still happening and it will continue into the colder days of winter! It’s not to be missed, we have some interesting stuff coming in. Stop by and see! We have had a lot of Dragon Fruit this year, we’ve been fascinated with it’s color, health benefits, and it’s delicious subtle sweetness.
BB: What’s in season right now? Is there a special recipe you can share?
Sickles: Without giving too many details, you can’t go wrong with a citrus salad this year. (Or containing dragonfruit!)
BB: If someone can’t decide which location to shop, what would you say?
Sickles: I say visit both and make a day of it! There’s so much to love about both locations! If you are a Sickles Regular, try Red Bank to experience something familiar and new at the same time! If you work or live around the corner from us in Red Bank – order something from the Red Bank Bites by Sickles Menu for a fabulous breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
BB: Tell us about the bottle shop. Is there a philosophy for how you buy? What are some of your special occasion bottles? (pictures?) What should customers expect when they visit? Do you deliver? Do you have a wine club?
Sickles: Customers should expect a unique boutique bottle shop experience. We have experts in wine, beer, and spirits on this team with amazing choices in each category. We have something for everyone. If you are looking for crowd pleasers, we certainly have them. If you want to try something you’ve never had before, you could visit us every day for a year and find something different to love every day. Our shop is small but mighty, and we always recommend pairing with food! 🙂
Sickles Simple Halibut
It doesn’t get much easier or delicious…
- lemon juice
- garlic powder
- cayenne pepper
- preheat oven to 450° and oil your baking sheet or pan
- create a marinade with lemon juice, salt & pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper (if you like heat)
- coat the marinade onto your halibut
- once your oven is preheated, bake for just 10 minutes
- garnish your halibut with lemon slices and dill
- enjoy your flavorful and moist halibut, pair it with roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables
(Posted: January 2021)