2016 Murray’s Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again – time to think of the best, most thoughtful gift for the people in your life who mean something to you. And we have the perfect idea: Cheese! Murray’s has a number of fantastic gifts for practically everyone – from the cheese novice to the most discerning cheeselover, we bet you can find just the right kind of cheese to give this holiday season.

For the Cheese Novice

greatest-hits

So you want to introduce someone into the world of cheese, but have no clue where to start? We introduce Murray’s Greatest Hits. Think of this as the Hall of Fame for cheeses. A crash course, if you will. Taking some of the most famous cheeses from around the world, we pair them with cherry jam, Blenheim apricots, and olive oil crackers for a truly blissful intro into the cheese world.

For the Patriot

american-artisans

America is sometimes overlooked when it comes to cheese, but no longer! The American Artisans gift set is packed with the tastes of America – delicate creamy Vermont goat cheese, sassy California blues, and even Murray’s own Calabrese salami. Take your loved one on a flavor tour from one coast to the other to enjoy the majestic flavors of the good ol’ USA.

For the World Traveler

europass

Look no further than the Europass – a box full of everyone’s favorite European cheeses, delivered right to your giftee’s door. Everything from nutty Challerhocker from Switzerland, to delicately sweet French Persille de Rambouillet, and earthy Mrs. Quicke’s English Cheddar. The only thing that would make this group better is some caramely Ewephoria and creamy Taleggio, drizzled in decadent Serramel Oak Honey – oh wait, they get that too!

For the Cheeselover Who Has Everything

top-shelf

This is for your cheeselover with refined tastes, who has tried everything and wants only the best. We’re not saying they need to wear top hats and raise their pinkies as they dive into this gift, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. The Top Shelf has it all – luxurious whipped honey, the best Jambon Iberico in the world, and beautiful aged blues will make the recipient of this luxe gift feel like royalty.

For the Meat Lover

the cure

Listen, we know not everyone loves cheese (we’re not sure why, exactly, but these things happen). But The Cure features no cheese – just meat, glorious meat! From Italian speck to Foie Gras to La Quercia’s spreadable Nduja, this box is packed with more varieties of carnivorous delight than your favorite meat-eater will know what to do with. 8 types of meat and a chutney, to boot!

But a gift from Murray’s doesn’t have to be just for the holiday season! With our Monthly Clubs, you can have meat and cheese delivered to your door each month. It’s the cheesy gift that keeps on giving!

Pairings We’re Thankful For this Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is here! There is plenty to be thankful for in a world where amazing cheeses and meats are around every corner. While we’re planning out our Thanksgiving cheese plates to share with family and friends, we wanted to share with you the cheese pairings that we are most thankful for this holiday season! Maybe it’ll give you some inspiration for your own cheesy Thanksgiving dishes.

holiday cheese

Ossau Iraty with Murray’s Apple Butter and Walnuts

murrays apple butter

There’s a lot to love with Ossau Iraty – and it’s been around for a while! Ossau is considered by some to be one of the oldest cheeses ever produced, so there’s been plenty of time to come up with the perfect pairings for this toasty, nutty cheese. To embody the flavors of crisp fall air and warm nights by the fire, we love to smear a little bit of Murray’s Apple Butter onto a rustic baguette, with a handful of walnuts on the side.

Annelies with Big Picture Farm Goat Milk Caramel and Hazelnuts

annelies alpine cheese

We’re thankful this year for our new relationship with Walter Rass of Challerhocker fame – he’s been sending us exclusive wheels of his raw cow’s milk cheese to age in The Murray’s Caves. We manage, after at least 9 months of aging, to coax out flavors of butterscotch and cocoa from the Alpine we’ve dubbed Annelies. Goat Milk Caramels are perfect with this nutty sweet cheese, as are a bowl full of crunchy toasted hazelnuts. A little bit of toasty sweetness to round out your holiday.

Stichelton with Hedene Miel du Jura Honey and Anarchy in a Jar Strawberry Balsamic Preserves

hedene-honey-sapin-jura-web-280a2927

Stichelton is basically Stilton’s milder, crowd-pleasing brother. As we gather friends and family, we know not everyone loves blue cheese, so we’re thankful for this rich, creamy blue that can win just about anyone over. A drizzle of Jura honey from Hedene brings out the deep, woodsy flavors, while a jar of Anarchy in a Jar Strawberry Balsamic Preserves balances that sweet and savory combo that any good blue cheese should have.

Rush Creek Reserve with La Quercia Speck Americano and Potter’s Applewood Smoked Crackers

rush creek reserve cheese

With winter fast approaching, we get to appreciate a new batch of the highly seasonal raw cow’s milk, Rush Creek. Inspired by the French Vacherin Mont d’Or and only available in the winter time, Rush Creek gets wrapped in spruce bark and becomes an unctuous, bacony delight. You could just cut off the top and spoon out the woodsy paste – but we love to dollop it on a Potter’s Applewood Smoked Cracker with a ribbon of velvety Speck Americano.

Slack Ma Girdle with Hayden Flour Mills Red Fife Crackers and Jambon de Bayonne

slack ma girdle english cheese

 Okay, its name might be a little bit ridiculous, but trust us when we say that this nettle-crusted raw cow’s milk is something to be thankful for. Wrapped in bark and as creamy and spoonable as the Rush Creek Reserve, Slack Ma Girdle is herbaceous and funky all in one – an adventure in cheese form. Spoon onto a rustic, nutty cracker like the Hayden Flour Mills Red Fife Cracker, and feast upon this English beauty with a few thin slices of salty, briny Jambon de Bayonne.

The Science World Reports Great News for Cheese Fans

Hey Cheesers! We’re happy to report great news for anyone prepping for some serious cheese snacking this holiday season. Recent studies out of Denmark show that cheese – from the creamy full-fat Brie to crumbly aged cheddars – are just as healthy for you as their low-fat versions.

It all comes down to the types of fats and cholesterol you find in cheese. The study split subjects into three groups, with one group eating 80 grams of regular, high-fat cheese every day for 12 weeks. The other group ate 80 grams of reduced fat cheese, and a third group somehow survived with no cheese at all – just bread and jam each day.

People who enjoyed the high fat cheese diet actually saw an increase in their levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol – HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol”! This type of fat has been theorized to offer protection against heart diseases and to help jumpstart metabolism. Not only that, but compared to the people who ate the reduced fat cheese diet, the high fat cheese didn’t show any difference in the low density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, which is “bad cholesterol”.

The Danish investigation is the most recent in a long line of pro-cheese studies that have come out in recent years. A British study in 2012 showed that molded and blue cheeses, such as the famous French Roquefort, can help guard against cardiovascular disease. It turns out that these blue cheeses have an anti-inflammatory factor that works with the acidic environments of the body to help prevent heart disease.

Another study from Denmark from 2013 looked at the correlation between butyric acid levels in those who ate cheese and those who did not. Those who ate cheese had much higher levels of butyric acid, which has been linked to reducing obesity and raising metabolism.

In Japan, it was found that cheese consumption prevents fat accumulation in the liver – a very important measure for cardiovascular risk. This study also found the high HDL “good cholesterol” levels raised when eating cheese was a part of the subjects’ diet.

Between the boost in HDL cholesterol and no notable effect on the “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as the anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular, and metabolic benefits, it looks like there’s no need to skimp on delicious cheeses this holiday season in favor of their low fat variations.

Celebrate the holidays (and this great news) by checking out the wide variety of delectable cheese’s Murray’s has to offer – your body, science says, will thank you.

 

Hanukkah Cheesin’: The Forgotten Story of Curd and the Festival of Lights

Ed note: Loyal blog readers may remember this story from Hanukkah 2013. We’re republishing it this year because…well, because it’s an amazing story of how cheese saved the day, and we can’t get enough of those.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the “Festival of Lights” better than a big old wedge of curd. Every year, I make the schlep down to south Florida where the whole family gathers to enjoy a week of family time and fried food. And every year I brave the death-stares of fellow travels as I stink up the 3 hour flight with an insane amount of cheese stashed in my carry on. Although in my house I can’t guarantee that these treats will make it 8 days…48 hours would be a real miracle.

Until recently, I didn’t know that cheese, at one time, was part of traditional Hanukkah food celebrations. And just like any food tradition in the Jewish faith, there is a neat little story that will help us rationalize 8 days of gorging ourselves on some fantastic fromage. While this part of the Hanukkah story has become mostly forgotten in modern culture, it’s a great tale of heroism and the perfect excuse to munch on some curd, or gift a little wedge. It goes something like this:

Judith decapitating her enemy

Judith was a strikingly beautiful widow from the town of Bethulia in sixth century BC Israel. Her community came under siege, and annihilation looked inevitable. That is, until Judith came to the rescue. She put together a spread of wine and cheese and entered the enemy camp. The leader, Holofernes, was so smitten by her beauty, he couldn’t resist her offering of ripe cheese and intoxicating wine. He got bombed. I mean really, really drunk, like me at any Bar Mitzvah I have attended in the last 6 years. He was so wasted that Judith reacted in the most natural of ways: she stole his sword and cut of his head.

Jewish heroines really know how to bring the badass.

While this story takes place centuries after the Maccabees and their “Miracle of Light”, for many years it was incorporated into the Hanukkah celebration. Judith’s heroism was celebrated along with the Maccabees victory as an example of the perseverance of the Jewish people. But stories and cultures are not static, and this exciting tale has slowly been abandoned for the the modern Hanukkah story and celebration.

Torus

So, now that you know that it is not only acceptable, but encouraged that you get some cheese for Hanukkah, you might want a few suggestions for the platz-worthy wedge. The time and location that Judith’s story takes place would undoubtedly be a land full of goat and sheep milk cheeses. Allison Hooper, from Vermont Creamery, is what many consider the heroin of American goat cheese. She has helped to create the American market for goat cheese, and explored techniques and methods that have helped shaped a quality driven landscape of cheesemakers across the United States. Try some velvety and tangy Coupole or some fudgy and lemony Torus (and a dollop of their Crème Fraîche is a wonderful substitute for sour cream with your latkes). Nutty and grassy Ossau Iraty with a schmear of Seashore Honey will drive your great-aunts taste buds mashugganah, and a beautiful wheel of Cavemaster Reserve Hudson Flower will insure your eternal reputation as a real mensch.

One final piece of interesting cheese and Hanukkah knowledge. You know those potato latkes that Bubbie spends all day frying up? Potatoes were not brought over to Europe until the colonization of the American continent, but Jews had been making fried latkes for centuries. Guess what the original  latke was made of? You guessed it…CHEESE!

Regardless how you celebrate Hanukkah this year, Murray’s hopes it is a fun and full of friends and family. Here is to the festival of lights, and really good cheese! L’chaim, y’all!

Holiday Gifts on a Budget: Save Some Cheddar On Your Cheddar

By: Cate Peebles

Looking for something impressive that’s not oppressive to your wallet? We understand. Thankfully, a little extravagance goes a long way and you can impress anyone with one or two choice, delicious treats. We put together a few indulgent gifts that are luxurious AND affordable.

 The Holiday Weekender$65  (ON SALE for $55) â€“ A weekend escape full of tasty cheese,     crunchy oat cakes and decadent fig cake. What makes a better gift than a brief escape from the holiday craziness?

Season’s Eatings – $45 – This rustic gift includes raw, spruce-wrapped favorite, Rush Creek, a cheese that we flip our lids for year after year; it’s the pièce de résistence of many-a monger’s holiday spread.

American Splendor – $40 – This is a lovely little sack of farmstead American craftsmanship: 2 Vermont cheeses, homemade Apple Butter, and a box of crackers. It makes a great gift for the host of the party, or a foodie friend with a taste for farm-to-table treats.

Build Your Own Gift and have it delivered in a Hand Made wooden crate

BYOG– Build Your Own Gift! It all starts with a $15 signature Murray’s gift crate and can be as stuffed or spare as you want it to be. To get the ideas flowing, here’s a sample gift box that costs under $50:

Build Your Own Gift:

Gift Crate – $15
½ lb Tuxford and Tebbut Stilton – $10
1 VBC Cremont – $11.99
Petit Toast – $3.99
1 Dalmatia Fig Jam – $7.99

Total – $48.97

La Quercia Cucina Collection – $39.99 –This little package of exquisite, hand-crafted cured meats is ideal for the meat-loving home chef in your life. Made by one of our favorite American artisanal charcuterie producers, La Quercia makes superb prosciutto, coppa, speck and lardo…just to name a few!

Gift Cards –Starts at $10 – These babies make superb stocking-stuffers and last minute additions to holiday cards and thank you notes. Give a little or a lot—they’re redeemable for online, in-store and classroom purchases.

Fancy food treats don’t have to be off limits—we’ve got something delectable in every price-range. Take a look online and place your order, or we’re standing by to help you make selections: give us a call at: 888-692-4339, Monday- Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. We can’t wait to talk cheese!

 

 

Looking for other cheesy gifts this Holiday season? Check out our Gift Guide to see all of our gift collections!

Wanna learn more about cheese? Check out our Cheese 101 videos and become a real curd nerd!