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! 

Make Whey For… Murray’s Camembert!

When you think of French cheeses, we wouldn’t be surprised if your mind immediately went to Brie. It is, after all, one of the oldest cheeses to survive over the years and make it onto your cheese plate. But if we’re being honest, we’re enamored with Brie’s younger brother – a farmhouse Frenchie with the earthiness and toastiness that we love in a spreadable French cheese: Camembert! 

The original Camembert cheese came from the northern region of Normandy, France. Made by Marie Harel in 1791, who was visited by a priest from the Brie region of France named Abbot Charles-Jean Bonvoust. He passed along the recipe for preparing a cheese with a bloomy, edible rind which was produced in his homeland, that we now know as Brie. The recipe was apparently altered in the process (think of a game of cheesy telephone), creating a similar, but distinctly delicious new cheese.

Often times, Camembert is mistaken for or confused with it’s cousin, Brie. Though they are both made of cow’s milk, Brie originated from central Ile de France, while Camembert comes from the northern region of Normandy. Brie is usually made in larger wheels, and is milder than the more pungent wheel of Camembert. Camembert is a bit softer and creamier than brie, which has a more pudgy and gooey texture.

There have, since the cheese’s creation, been many different versions of Camembert. Unfortunately, because of FDA regulations on raw milk cheeses, we cannot import the traditional AOC Camembert du Normandie. But we’re always on the hunt for the best Camembert we can manage – and we think we’ve found it. The tender, downy mold rind gives a contrasting bite to a melting straw-colored paste within. Aged to rich, creamy perfection, this wheel of Camembert is toasty, buttery, and ever so lactic. This is the kind of cheese that can stand up to a bold, big red wine like Bordeaux, or is balanced by a bright Hefewiesen.

If you’re looking for the perfect pair for Camembert, the answer is simple: apples. Apples are Camembert’s best friend and neighbor, as the land around the farms Camembert is made on are often apple orchards. You can go simple by slicing a few apples, drizzling with honey, and pairing up with our gooey wheel. Or, just break out a bottle of cider or a glass of apple brandy – either way, you’ll be savoring this sweet and savory combo.

Make Whey For… Langres!

It’s nearly the New Year – of course, we’re planning on popping corks on a few bottles of champagne and digging into cheese plates designed by our talented expert cheesemongers. But we’re not the first people to think that cheese and champagne are perfect for each other. In fact, the creator’s of one of the Champagne regions of France designed a cheese especially to pair with their eponymous drink – Langres!

This little guy dates back to 18th century, to the little town of Haute Marne. The area has always been quite famous for its bubbly, so it’s not surprising that this cheese was often looked over for the sparkling drink. But when 1991 rolled around,  the French government knew it was time to give it the recognition it deserved – admitting it to the AOC family, this regional cheese got star-status.

Similar to our funky friend, Epoisses, the rind can be sticky and shiny, or wrinkled and white. But beneath it all, the burnished orange rind gives you an idea of just what kind of cheese this is – a little bit funky, but delightfully creamy. When you slice past that intriguing little rind, Langres is a touch on the firmer side, but it melts over the tongue with little pretense.

But that’s just how Langres can be enjoyed on its own. This little button of cheese’s claim to fame is the divot at its top. Shaped like a cup, you might have some idea of how Langres and Champagne are enjoyed together…. That’s right! Langres is traditionally enjoyed by pouring your celebratory champagne right over the tiny wheel. The top dip of the cheese is called in French the “fontaine”, which is a reference to a fountain or natural spring.

Here’s how you make your French fountain: simply cut a small slit in the middle of the wheel to allow the bubbles to transform its demure fudginess into a brioche-laden creambomb. And then pour your favorite sparkler – the classic is a touch of the Marc de Champagne – right over top. A tradition that has been lost over time, we think it’s the perfect way to start your New Year – and by that, we mean eating delicious cheese and impressing your friends and family.

Bonjour, Flavor!

Sometimes, what you need is an escape. Especially around the holidays. But if you can’t escape, what’s the next best thing? An experience that transports you. That’s why the gift of Murray’s is your best bet this holiday season – it can whisk you away to a land of flavor and delight. This time, we take you to France with the French Connection

Come a-whey with us – to strolls along the Seine River, leading to an afternoon lunch at a cafe not far from the Eiffel Tower. Or to cool mountain air from high up in the French Alps, watching cows and sheep graze. It all is embodied in the cheeses highlighted in the French Connection – a tour across the land of France.

First is the traditional French Alpine cheese – Comte comes from France’s Jura region, capturing the essence of raw, mountain pasture-fed cow milk with a hint of sweet milk, stone fruit, and brown butter. The rich chunk of Ossau Iraty comes from the Pyrenees – it’s a grassy-sweet sheep’s milk cheese highlighted by toasted wheat and hazelnut flavors. The Prince of French Blues, Bleu d’Auvergne comes from the same region as Roquefort, and is mellower and meatier than its spicy sheep relative. And that unassuming, miniature white wheel? That’s Chabichou – a wrinkly aged goat cheese chock full of lemon zest and minerality, the perfect tangy little bite.

But it wouldn’t be enough simply to feature cheese – The French Connection also highlights France’s answer to salumi with Saucisson Sec. Porky, with a hint of garlic, it is best served whole, while you or your guests slice medium-thick bites. With the Comte, it is divine, especially paired with the mix of French Olives that accompany it. Or top the Ossau Iraty and Bleu d’Auvergne with the Black Cherry Confit – the mix of flavors will surprise and delight.

We want to make gift-giving easy for you. Whether buying for the cheese novice or the hardcore cheese fanatic, we have something for everyone!

The Epoisses-abilities are Limitless

There’s an apocryphal story starring this unassuming looking cheese – so pungent, so stinky when its scent is allowed to waft through the air, it was apparently banned from being transported on the Paris Metro. There’s no truth behind it, of course, as Epoisses has always been considered one of France’s greatest traditional cheeses. But it’s a great story nonetheless. AOC protected – meaning that only certain areas in France can make Epoisses as we know it – this washed rind cheese is practically French royalty. Even Napoleon was a fan of this rosy beauty. And you can find it at Murray’s!

This unctuous, pasteurized cow’s milk round comes far from Burgundy, France to join us in our shops, and we’re glad it made the trip. This cheese dates back to the sixteenth century, and was popular all the way up until the early 1900s, when over 300 farms were making Epoisses. But when the Second World War hit France, production almost completely died out. It was nearly a decade after the war had ended before Epoisses was made again. Now, the cheese is just as treasured as it once was, returned to its pre-war glory.

To get its signature funk, this cheese’s curd are carefully hand-ladled into forms, then dry salted. Taking a turn in a French cave, it is washed daily in a mixture of water and a pomace brandy, which helps to develop its signature funk and rosy orange complexion. Flavorwise, it adds bacony, woodsy notes to each delectable bite.

When Epoisses arrives stateside, it has only been aging for a month or so, and should be so gooey and creamy that you can practically slurp up the paste. This custardy bacon bomb even gets shipped in a little wooden box – all you have to do is simply slice into the wheel, then spoon onto a crusty baguette. Or just start dunking into the paste – you’ll be happy you did. A fairly photogenic cheese, right?