Victory Never Tasted So Cheesy!

It’s official! Murray’s cheeses are winners, simple as that. Murray’s, in collaboration with some of the country’s best cheese makers, is proud to take home even more recognition for our original creations! This week, four of our Cavemaster Reserve cheeses took home awards at the annual United States Championship Cheese Contest held in Green Bay, Wisconsin. While we know that our cheeses are delicious, it’s amazing to see our cheesy creations stack up with some of the best in the country!

Hudson Flower

A collaboration with Old Chatham Sheepherding Company of Old Chatham, NY, earned Best of Class honors in the Flavored Soft & Semi-Soft Sheep’s Milk Cheese category, and for good reason! An American twist on a Corsican classic, Hudson Flower is made by Old Chatham, then sent to NYC where it is dressed in a secret blend of rosemary, lemon, thyme, marjoram, elderberries, and hop flowers before taking a rest in Murray’s state-of-the-art caves. Celebrate Murray’s win with a glass of champagne, some dried apricots, and a wheel of this floral wonder.

Greensward

Created by Murray’s Cheese and Jasper Hill Farm of Greensboro, VT, Greensward earned the Second Award in the Smear Ripened Soft Cheese category. Greensward also was recognized as the #1 Soft-Ripened Washed Rind Cheese and 3rd overall Best of Show by the American Cheese Society in 2016 – meaning there were plenty of stinky cheese in attendance, but Greensward beat almost all! So this creamy, bacony stunner is clearly not a competitor to be overlooked. Recreate Greensward’s best moments with a few slices of speck and a jar of cornichons.

Barden Blue

Made with Consider Bardwell of Vermont, this big blue earned Third Award for Blue Veined Cheeses with Exterior Molding. This cow’s milk classic is mellow, grassy, and perfectly aged by our Caves team. Think of it like lying in a fresh green pasture in the middle of spring – it’s really that good. The judges saw Barden as that versatile blue you’ve been dying to try – you could have it with some robust, herbal pancetta or a bar of bitter, bold dark chocolate. Either way, you’re going to love it.

Cornelia

A natural-rind cheese developed by Point Reyes Farmstead Co., Cornelia was recognized Fourth Overall in the Smear Ripened Semi-Soft cheese category. Needless to say, we’re pretty proud of our girl! She boasts a sophisticated palate of roasted peanuts and fresh milk. She’s our favorite during the summertime, simultaneously reminding us of picnics in the park and baseball games with the family.

You Spilled Beer on My Cheese

It’s like we always say: beer and cheese were just meant to be. There’s nothing like pouring a frosty pint of beer to go along with your cheese plate. But what about enjoying beer with your cheese another way? It’s actually not as groundbreaking as you’d think! Actually, beer and cheese have gone together for centuries, and people have been washing cheese in beer for all that time.

We have to, first things first, thank the Trappist Monks who believed you should live by the work of your hands. So, obviously, they started brewing beer. Like the smart guys they were, they realized that not only was this a tasty drink, but it could add a little something extra to the cheeses they’d been aging to feed their fellow monks. The story goes that they accidentally spilled some beer into their brine during a hard shift, but we like to think of them as the first generation of food scientists – experimenting until something fruity and funky came out.

So why are beer washed rind cheeses just oh so much better? Well it’s because the B. linens (that’s the stinky orange mold that kind of smells like feet but tastes super meaty) help remove the the acidic notes of the beer, leaving behind fruity or nutty notes that we all love. The resulting cheeses end up beefy and complex, with a distinct funkiness that permeates from the outside in. As it so happens, this tradition is one of our favorites – we love the stinkers that pair so great with a handful of nuts and beer. Here’s some of our boozy favorites:

The Other Stephen

These little guys start out as mild mannered triple creams (known as St. Stephen from Four Fat Fowl), but he definitely isn’t as much a saint after he’s washed in a bath of Short, Dark & Handsome Stout from Other Half Brewing in Brooklyn. Suddenly he’s less of a saint and more of a devil – a bit rowdy around the rind that imparts deep flavors of roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate (we’re talking that 70+% cacao stuff). But with that creamy paste, it all comes together to make a dreamy little wheel of cheese.

Good Thunder

Created by a finance guy turned cheesemaker, we think Keith Adams was thinking about happy hour when he crafted Good Thunder. Based on classic recipes – we’re talking  monk washed cheeses like Pont l’Eveque and Reblochon – our boy Keith washes this creamy cheese in a local Minnesota craft beer known as Surly Bender. It’s a great name, and it helps make a great cheese with notes of funkiness, porkiness, and smooth cream flavor. The epitome of a work hard, play hard cheese.

Greensward

A Murray’s exclusive that we’ve made extra boozy. This Vacherin Mont d’Or-inspired cheese is washed in an experimental brew of Virtue Cider, which helps create a big and bacony flavor without a hint of bitterness. Honestly, it’s so luscious and creamy that you could use it as a miniature fondue. Foresty and meaty, this is a unique spin on a classic inspired cheese. Very New York, by way of Vermont and the Alps.

How Does Your Cheese Melt?

We love the ooey-gooey – that melty delight that is fondue, grilled cheese, and everything in-between. But in your own cheesy experimentation you’ve probably noticed how some cheeses just aren’t as up to turning melty as others. It doesn’t mean we love them any less (I mean, who doesn’t love that crispy crust of Parmesan on a Chicken Parm?) but we know they’re just different. Have you ever wondered why? Don’t worry, we’re here to break it down for you, Cheesers.

First things first, it’s all about the fat! The fat and water ration in cheese determines how it is going to melt. So something that is higher in moisture is usually going to be a better melter than a drier alternative. That’s because the protein structure (which is what keeps the water and fat separated) is looser in high moisture cheeses, and very rigid in dry ones. 

So when heat is applied to most cheeses, the fat globules change from solid to liquid, which is when it starts getting that ooey gooey consistency. The protein structure loosens its grip under the heat, and the cheese begins to flow like a thick liquid rather than a solid – think of dripping, delightful fondue, and you’ll have the right idea in your head!

This is why age isn’t just a number when it comes to melting cheese – the age actually means a lot! Freshly made cheeses don’t have that maturity level yet, with their proteins tightly wound up. As they gain a little bit more time, the proteins loosen up, and create a more open matrix (think of it as a net that holds all the water and fat). That matrix is flexible, which is why they melt smoothly and don’t break. But if it ages too much, those proteins tighten up into tough clumps – that’s where that crispy cheese comes in.

So the best melters are a combo of age and moisture – Emmentaler, Gruyere, Comte, they are all well aged, with a flexible protein net. Their high moisture helps separate the proteins without breaking them completely, which allows them to flow into stringy, ooey-gooey meltiness. It totally makes your mouth water just thinking about it, right? Science is so much funner when it’s delicious.

You can hit up some of our favorite melters and get started on your own grilled cheese, fondue, and other cheesy experiments! 

Murray’s is Making Cheese! Introducing Ezra

Murray’s has always stood by our creed: We Know Cheese. We’ve embraced it – as purveyors of the world’s best cheeses, guardians of Gruyere, champions of Cheddar, defenders of Delice de Bourgogne, we’ve brought you only the best. But while we’ve cultivated other people’s cheeses, aged some of the greats in our Caves, Murray’s hasn’t developed a cheese from scratch – until today!

Meet Ezra; a Murray’s exclusive clothbound cheddar born and bred here in New York. After almost two years of R&D, Ezra is finally emerging from within our caves to make its first appearance in our shops. But let’s walk you through how Ezra came to be!

Our Cavemaster PJ Jenkelunas and Sr VP Steve Millard got into a discussion around the spotty availability of a monger favorite Gabietou, and the idea of recreating this French washed-rind cheese was born.

Matt Ranieri, who was consulting with Old Chatham Sheepherding Co.,and Dave Galton (who co-owns Old Chatham with his wife Sally) agreed to help Murray’s in their R&D of Gabietou and to help provide the milk. The cheese would be made at the dairy incubator at New York’s Cornell University. Over a long weekend, the Murray’s team made its way up to Cornell to start making cheese. The only problem? Gabietou (version 1.0, as our Cavemaster still wants to make one eventually) didn’t turn out so great. But, it gave birth to a new idea.

During a re-examination of what the cheese would be, Steve expressed the desire to make a truckle sized cheddar – inspired by England’s Lincolnshire Poacher instead of the sweet New York cheddars that existed. In July of 2015, they tried again, heading back up to Cornell and making their very first batch of cheddar. It took some experimentation, and plenty of time, but finally, this lemony, bright cheddar tastes of sour cream and baked potato – and it’s perfect.

Our cheese was dubbed Ezra – the first name of the founder of Cornell, the birthplace of Murray’s first cheddar. But what was behind the magic of making this fine little cheddar? We sat down with PJ and Steve to learn a bit more about the inspiration behind Murray’s first cheese.

  • After experimenting with the recipe, what was the goal for this cheese? Was there a certain flavor profile you were aiming for?

“At Murray’s we sell cheese really well, we do affinage really well, we merchandise cheese exceptionally and our training program is second to none but we never made cheese.  My desire was to have a cheese that we made. We experimented with Holstein versus Jersey milk and settled on Holstein as our milk of choice.  We have 6 or so batches of Jersey cheddar (still really great) and then will be back to 100% Holstein.” – Steve

“The product development process involved a lot of variables.  Steve mentioned that we were going back and forth between Holstein and Jersey milk.  We also tried many different culture combinations.  During the aging process, we sampled each test batch very regularly to see which combination of cultures fit our desired profile.  Since clothbound cheddar takes so long to age and develop its flavor, this process took a very long time.” – PJ

  • What makes this cheese unique? What does it have that our customers will find appealing?

“I think this cheese is incredible.  I am admittedly biased but think the combination of many factors is leading this cheese to fit into our set very nicely.  American cheddar tends to run down a sweet/sulfurous path.  This cheese very much decidedly goes in a different direction toward a wonderfully bright and acidic path with notes of lemon curd and a slight hint of sweet caramel.  Our natural rind cave has proven to be a wonderful component of this cheese and this cheese sings the notes of the microflora of this cave beautifully.” – Steve

” All the elements of this cheese hit upon a New York theme… we developed it at Cornell, we use New York state milk, we get our lard from the Meat Hook (and they use New York pigs), and obviously we age it in NYC.” – PJ

  • With this successful project completed, what can we expect to come out of Murray’s caves in the future?

“We are working on recreating Barden Blue and are very close to having a final recipe.  This will be a raw milk, natural rind blue made by Consider Bardwell Farm and aged in our caves in Long Island City.  The other big project we are working on is an ashed, domestic Camembert made by Jasper Hill and finished in our caves.

Annelies started as a small R&D project with 2 wheels aging for 12 months in our caves and now we have 360 wheels of this incredible cheese aging in our alpine cave. We strive to have several small R&D projects going, from each one we learn a tremendous amount about cheese making, affinage and what we like. ” – Steve

Featuring Our French Faves for Cheese Week!

We wouldn’t be much of a cheese shop if we didn’t have an undying love for French cheeses. This week is Cheese Week, so of course we turned to our favorite cheeses to highlight during the festivities. The French have given us so much when it comes to cheese – and it’s not just the humble Brie. France has given us cheeses that run the gamut – creamy Camemberts, herbal chevres, nutty sheep’s milks, and minerally blues. We”d love to tell you about our favorite Frenchies, just in time to inspire your own Cheese Week celebrations!

Murray’s Camembert

We know your first thought when we talk about French cheese is Brie – but instead, why not try a little wheel of Camembert? Historically inspired by the Brie recipe (it was said to be passed down by a priest who had come from the province of Brie, but the recipe was corrupted in the telling), Camembert is creamier, more mushroomy, and has an earthiness that really tastes as though you’re enjoying it in the fields of France.

Murray’s Delice

If you’re looking for creamy, buttery sweet cheese, look no further than the land of Burgundy. Not only do they have delectable wine, but their cheese cannot be beat – Delice de Bourgogne is full of fresh milk flavors, with hints of sweet cream and clean hay. You can start your day with Delice paired with apricots and drizzled with honey as a tasty breakfast – or dessert if you add a glass of champagne on the side.

Valencay

The Loire Valley has created oh so many chevre cheeses, but Valencay stands out. Stories say that it was originally shaped like a pyramid, but when Napoleon returned from his military failings in Egypt, he demanded the pointed tops be removed, even going so far as to slice them off himself with his sword. While we’re not sure how true that is, the stunted pyramid shape remains, and the minerally, piquant goat’s milk is still one of our faves.

Ossau Iraty

If you’re looking for ancient traditions, you’ve found it. It’s said that Ossau Iraty is one of the first cheeses ever produced, and it’s only gotten better with age. Warm, buttery sheep’s milk curds are heated and pressed – think rich, toasty wheat aromas, and nutty, grassy-sweet flavors that make it that sort of cheese that stands up against anything – bold reds, toasty brown ales, whatever you’d like to pair it with.

Fourme d’Ambert

A blue developed so early on that the Druids and Gauls were said to have worked together to create it (read: a veryyyyy long time ago). It’s even said to go back to the Roman occupation of France nearly 1,000 years ago! They obviously perfected the recipe over the years, because we love nothing more than the earthy, mushroomy cheese with hints of sweetness and an amazing velvety texture. Even the staunchest blue hater will fall in love with this Frenchie.

To celebrate Cheese Week, we’ve got some great discounts on some of our French Faves! Check it out!