From Denmark, With Love¬†ūüíĆ

There is a word in Danish that we’ve been thinking a lot about lately. The word is hygge, and it doesn’t have an exact translation to English. Hygge is a feeling, an idea of togetherness, of creating a space of wholeness and comfort. When used as a noun, it is something that is cozy, safe, and known. The idea of hygge¬†is exactly what we feel when we think about Murray’s newest Danish cheese collection!

Usually,¬†when we talk about Danish cheese the only thing that comes to people’s minds is Havarti. And while Havarti is great, it only represents a tiny bit of what Danish cheese has to offer. Murray’s new collection highlights how many different cheeses are coming out of Denmark – from creamy goat’s milks to gouda-styles to tangy blues. Not only that, but Murray’s is the only company in the US importing these decadent treats! We are SO excited to share Danish delights with you – they’re some of the best cheeses we’ve ever tasted!

For more information, you can check out this feature from The New York Times! If you want to dive in and just taste them, you can purchase them at our website or at our NYC flagship stores!

Netflix and Cheese?

Sometimes, artisan cheeses can come off as ‘snobby’, but we couldn’t agree less! Here at Murray’s, we want everyone to enjoy cheese in whatever whey they want – whether it’s at a fancy dinner party or just snacking on the couch watching Netflix. Cheese is what you make it, to be enjoyed however you like. With this idea in mind, we took some of our favorite artisan cheeses and paired them with snack food – the kinds of things you can find at your corner store or local bodega. No need to get fancy! It just has to taste good!¬†

Sour Cream & Onion Lays Potato Chips + Montgomery’s Cheddar

There’s something about a bright green bag that makes us want to take it home and break into it. Normally we’d open up some dip and really go to town, but instead, we suggest breaking out a chunk of Montgomery’s Cheddar. This English cheddar isn’t like the ones you’d find outside¬†of the US. Monty is savory and meaty, with notes of chive¬†and baked potato. Both the chips and the cheese are highly snackable – they have that addictive quality that makes you want to nibble mindlessly while marathoning old episodes of Parks & Recreation. So, snack on!

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos + Epoisses

A funky wheel of Epoisses might not be the first thing you think of for a midnight bite, but this bacony, custardy cheese¬†is practically its own dip. If you’re thinking about what to dunk, we suggest a fiery red bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The cheesy heat might leave a red residue all over your fingers, but once it’s covered in gooey, tasty cheese, you won’t even care about the stains. The heat of the crispy cheese puffs cuts through the funk,¬†leaving Epoisses’ spicy, meaty, and surprisingly creamy flavors to dazzle in its wake.

Original Cherry Pop Rocks + Valencay

We owe this pair to one of our expert mongers¬†over at Murray’s¬†Cheese Bar! Valencay is a French classic that comes from the Loire Valley – the goat cheese capital of the world. It has a storied history, and was said to even have had a run in with Napoleon, who chopped off the pyramid-shaped cheese’s top out of frustration after a battle gone awry. But don’t let that intimidate you – it¬†makes a seriously great snack with a candy you probably haven’t had since you were a kid: Pop Rocks! You know how we recommend champagne and bubblies with soft cheeses goat’s milk cheeses? This is the candy equivalent. It sounds crazy, but there’s something about these fruity cherry popping candies¬†that pairs perfectly with tangy, minerally Valencay.

Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Chip Cookies + Persille de Rambouillet

One of our cheesemongers¬†likes to compare Persille to vanilla birthday cake, and she’s not wrong. There’s something sweet and creamy about this goat’s milk blue that makes it unlike any other we’ve tasted. To pair this cheese with chocolate would be obvious, but we want to take it a step further. Spreading a little bit of blue cheese on top of a chocolate chip cookie might seem a little bit odd. But trust us, it’s worth it. It’s the dessert you’d never think of, but you’ll realize just how perfect it is when enjoyed with a glass of wine while lounging around.

Fondue Through the Ages

Despite¬†how nice the weather has been, all we can think about is one thing: melty, delicious fondue! And can you blame us? It’s National Cheese Fondue Day, afterall! Fondue is the ideal meal for a cheese lover – just melted cheese, a bit of wine, and whatever you feel like dipping. While we can go on and on about the different ways to enjoy fondue, we first want to ask: Do you know how fondue came to be? Don’t worry, we’re here to tell you all about the history of fondue – how it got its start, what got business booming, and how it spread over to the United States!¬†

Depending on who you ask, the first mention of fondue was in Homer’s Iliad, dated somewhere between 800-725 BCE. Of course, it wasn’t known as fondue at the time (it wouldn’t get that name until the late 19th century). The mixture the Greeks referred to was known as “kykeon” and was made up of goat’s milk, wine, and flour. It was a common drink of peasants, and was a meal that was used to break a sacred fast. Though it’s not the exact recipe as what would later be developed in the Alps, it is close enough to wonder if the ancient Greeks were celebrating Fondue Day too!

It wasn’t until 1699 that we got closer to the traditional fondue recipe that we know today. The original name for the dish was “Kass mit Wein zu kochen”, which means “to cook cheese with wine” – a fairly simple concept, but it laid a framework for what fondue would be. This recipe came from humble origins – it was said that the dish was developed as a method for peasants to make use of leftover bread and cheese during the winter months, when fresh fruits and vegetables were harder to find.

The word fondue didn’t come into play until the late 19th century, taken from the French word, “fondre”, which means “to melt”. Originally it was referencing an egg and cheese dish, but this would quickly change to mean the melty pot of cheese we love. The first modern recipe for fondue was published in 1875, but by this point, it was being presented as the “national dish of Switzerland”. Fondue became further popularized in the 1930s by the Swiss Cheese Union, as a way of increasing cheese consumption. They created regional inspired recipes that were part of the “spiritual defense of Switzerland”. Fondue was seen as a symbol of Swiss unity, due to the marketing campaign by the Swiss Cheese Union where fondue sets were sent to military regiments and event organizers following World War II.

But how did we learn to love fondue here in the States? It was all thanks to the World’s Fair. Fondue was first promoted to Americans by Switzerland for the first time in 1964, at the New York World’s Fair. The dish was served at the Swiss Pavilion’s Alpine restaurant. Fondue was a hit with the local crowds, and it didn’t take long before the recipe spread to New York City restaurants.

If you were to head over to Switzerland to enjoy fondue, you might be surprised by the variety of recipes that are enjoyed across the country. In Geneva, fondue is made¬†“moiti√©-moiti√©” – half Gruyere and half Fribourg-style Vacherin. Gruyere is considered one of Switzerland’s most famous cheeses and is noted for its nutty and firm nature. Vacherin is similar to Italian Fontina, featuring acidic, creamy, and woodsy flavors. Another feature of Geneva style fondue is the addition of kirsch, which is a cherry brandy. In eastern Switzerland, the recipe features a mixture of Gruyere and Appenzeller. In Valais, it’s a blend of Gruyere and Raclette, while Bern’s recipe focuses mainly on Emmentaler as the key ingredient. Regardless of where you enjoy your fondue or what recipe you use, nearly all Alpine style cheeses will go great melted into your fondue pot of gooey goodness.

There are many traditions associated with enjoying a pot of fondue. One tradition states that if a man loses his bread in a pot while dipping, he has to buy everyone at the table drinks. If a woman loses her bread, she must kiss her neighbors. Another tradition has to do with “la religieuse” – if fondue is kept at the right temperature, there is a thin crust of toasted cheese that remains at the bottom of the pot when the fondue is finished. Known as “la religieuse”, or “the nun”, it is traditionally fished out of the pot and eaten at the end of the meal. Stories vary as to where the name comes from – some say that it was because monks would save this remaining bite for the nuns in abbey. Others say that la religieuse resembles the cap that nuns would wear during the Middle Ages.

We’re Going Ham for the Holidays!

With Easter only about¬†a week away, we’re starting to seriously think about our dining plans. If we’re being honest, the idea of another boring baked ham is filling us with a certain amount of dread. It’s not that we don’t love ham – working in the specialty food industry, we’ve had plenty of seriously delicious ones. And then it hit us: This Easter doesn’t have to be the traditional honey glazed version you’ve had pretty much every year. Why not put a¬†Murray’s twist on a holiday classic? Here are some delicious alternatives that will leave your family and friends reconsidering those old traditions.

This is the closest we’re going to get to classic ham, but it is so much better. That’s because Olympia Provisions has perfected the art of butchery, curing, cooking, and smoking – and all of that skill went into the creation of¬†the Sweetheart Ham. This delectable pork sirloin is brined for ten days with juniper berries, floral herbs, crushed garlic, and fresh onions, which leaves this beautiful rosy ham salty yet herbaceous. Sweetheart¬†is then smoked over fragrant applewood for ten hours, sealing in the moisture and imparting a gentle sweetness. Seriously, we’ve never had a classic home-style ham as moist and decadent as this lovely little round.

Prosciutto di Parma is considered the King of Hams over in Italy, and we believe the¬†title is well deserved. The Italians have been making Prosciutto di Parma since the Roman Empire was ruling over the known world and is considered a¬†time-honored tradition from Parma, Italy. Over time, Prosciutto di Parma’s rich, gamey flavors have become well-known throughout Italy, and the world. The process is fairly simple – all it needs is sea salt, which it is cured in, air and time. The longer it is aged, the more concentrated and flavorful the meat becomes. When thinly sliced, Prosciutto¬†is a velvety, nutty ham that’s unlike anything you can find in¬†the States. Traditionally, it’s served with Parmigiano Reggiano, as it’s from the same area – if you’re thinking of giving it a pairing, we highly recommend putting the two together.

Maybe it’s time to bring the heat back to Easter. It’s pretty easy to do – you just have to incorporate Chorizo Iberico into your holiday plans. A classic, spicy dried sausage native to Spain, Chorizo is traditionally flavored with peppery smoked paprika. This chorizo is made with Iberico pork – a pig that forages through the forests of the Iberian Peninsula, feeding on a diet of acorns, roots, and wild herbs. All that flavor from what they’ve been munching on comes through in the meat, which develops into a natural nuttiness that makes Iberico ham highly coveted. We suggest mixing things up when it comes to pairings, since the heat and smokiness balances out those nutty flavors when given a little bit of Manchego and crusty rustic bread. If anything, it’ll definitely spice up your holiday meal.

You’re probably thinking, “Bacon? But I can have bacon any day!” Which is true. But instead of Easter dinner, let’s talk Easter brunch. Not only are you going to need some bacon to pile onto plates, but what about added to frittatas, omelettes, and even scones! If we’re looking for a top notch bacon to serve to family and friends, we’re reaching for¬†Nueske’s Wild Cherrywood Smoked Bacon.¬†It’s been made the same way since 1882 – spice mixtures are ground by hand, the bacon is smoked for 24 hours over wild cherrywood logs, and the simplicity is just magical.

Don’t Grill Us: We’ll Give You Our Grilled Cheese Secrets!

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for – April is GRILLED CHEESE MONTH. You know that we indulge in grilled cheese whether it’s Grilled Cheese Month or not, but this is the time of year to up your grilled cheese game and step away from the simple recipe of cheddar and white bread. (Not that we don’t LOVE cheddar and white bread, but we just know it’s time for you to try something a little bit different!) We’ll give you the inside scoop on a few add-ons that will up the ante on your next cheesy treat. And trust us, you’ll be saying thanks¬†after just one bite.

You’ve probably had bacon in your grilled cheese (and if you haven’t tried that out yet, it’s amazing). But let’s take it up a notch! Speck is a thinly sliced, Prosciutto-like meat that is velvety, herbal, and just a little bit smoky. The whole muscle is smoked over beechwood for hours, then pressed in a crust of juniper, thyme, sage, and fennel. Think of it as smoked bacon’s fancy older brother. Spread some fig spread¬†on a rustic wholegrain bread, add some super melty¬†Fontina Fontal, and layer the speck in the middle and, PRESTO: Grilled cheese magic.

You’ve done meat, now let’s talk about spreads. Now, we love being able to dip our sammies in sauce (think a French Dip or anything with gravy). But you should really consider spreading instead of dipping! Take a meaty cheddar, like Montgomery’s Cheddar, and spread a heaping spoonful of Puddletown Pub Chutney on some sourdough bread. The chutney, made from apples and onions that are soaked in an espresso stout, is going to impart flavors you didn’t even know existed (basically, it’s autumn in a jar) and bring a warm, comforting feeling that is perfect for a rainy day.

Okay, you’ve probably tried (or at least heard of)¬†brie and granny smith apples in a grilled cheese before. But now’s the time to step up your game with that too. Forget about the brie – go with Camembert instead. Those earthy notes and buttery flavors will perfectly balance out the tart granny smith apples. Need to crank it up one more notch? Try¬†Mike’s. Hot. Honey. Not only is it going to accentuate the¬†sweetness, but it’ll add a spicy kick to the sandwich that you didn’t know you needed.