After moving around a lot as a self-proclaimed "theater gypsy," Alison Walla was excited to move to Fort Greene and stay in one place for a while. "I wanted to put roots down and get to know my neighbors," she explains, "and in my very midwestern way, I'd bring them some cookies."
One of those neighbors happened to own the gourmet shop Greene Grape and said they would stock her wares should she ever decide to start a business.
"My two dreams were always to be on Broadway and have a bakery," Walla says. "I thought, you know, here's a door. Why not now?"
With her company, Butter + Love, she aims to pay homage to time-honored family traditions. Her variations on sandwich cookies and shortbread began with her grandmother's recipe for Raspberry Lemon cookies, and Walla credits many of the flavor combinations she's developed to her mother's "amazing herb garden" and encouraging attitude toward experimentation.
"After all this time, I still love the strawberry balsamic cookie," she says, "especially paired with marjoram, which has some balsamic notes." Eventually, she plans to introduce a line of jams and preserves, which will be used in the cookies as well as sold on their own. For the time being, she works with local jam makers as much as she can, though she says it can be hard to procure in the quantities that she needs.
While Butter + Love will be at some of the holiday markets around the city, including the Brooklyn Flea and the Columbus Circle market, Walla notes that all of her cookies—sandwich cookies, shortbread, and the especially charming gingerbread mustaches (for the Movember participant in your life, perhaps?)—hold up particularly well when shipped. "They have a naturally long shelf life, they're sturdier cookies," she says.
Regardless of the variety though, all of the cookies are "cut and jammed and carefully packaged by hand," Walla says, explaining, "That's the love part."