Spring is in Full Bloom – and so are Our Cheeses!

It’s official: Spring has finally sprung. Sure, we might still be a little chilly, but we know that flowers are getting ready to bloom and little baby cows, goats, and sheep will soon be joining the world. Then suddenly, there will be bloomy cheese everywhere! We’re definitely not complaining – we love these young, soft cheeses made from milk that comes fresh from the pastures and goes straight into becoming cheese. They’re only aged for a month or so, allowing them to keep the grassy, fresh milkiness that we know and love them for. To celebrate spring, here’s a few of our favorite bloomy rinded, warm(ish) weather cheeses! 

Kunik

Out of the South Adirondacks, comes this triple threat. First, a layer of lemony goat’s milk is enriched with fatty Jersey cow cream, to create a mushroomy, intensely buttery flavor and the utmost decadent paste. Murray’s buys these cheeses as soon as they’re made, then let them spend a little time ripening in our Long Island City caves. The hints of minerals from the fresh pastures at the foot of the South Adirondacks are coaxed out during this time, and it makes it the best cheese to have with a sparkling, fruity rose.

Hudson Flower

Speaking of flowers blooming, our Hudson Flower is ready to grace your cheese plate. Young wheels of decadent sheep’s milk from the nearby Old Chatham Cheese Company are sent to our caves, where they then receive a fresh coat of rosemary, lemon thyme, marjoram, elderberries, and hop flowers, a flavorful blend based on the sheep’s springtime diet. These bright herbs impart a certain woodsy, floral aroma that always get us in a  springtime sort of mood and make an unforgettable flavor.

Up in Smoke

Every time we carefully pull back the edges of the maple leaves that wrap up this rindless chevre like a gift, we feel like we’re welcoming spring itself. The incredible balance of deep, smoky richness and clean minerality comes from the diet of the goats, who are set to pasture year round. But we love it best in the spring time, where the lemony, grassy goat’s milk is at its best. The little round is then smoked over alder and maplewood, then wrapped in leaves and misted with bourbon. These citrusy nuggets are the epitome of bright, crisp spring cheeses.

St. Stephen

These small, bloomy wheels come from the Hudson Valley creamery, Four Fat Fowl. A triple creme made with the cream from Jersey cows (arguably the best, creamiest milk there is), these little wheels are delicately buttery, with hints of sun-dried wheat, newly emerged grass, and sweet cream beneath the pillowy rind. If we’re talking about local terroir (that taste of place we love), you know we’re talking about St. Stephen. If you’re looking for even more of that fresh spring flavor, drizzle it with local wildflower honey, and find something bubbly to drink.

Coupole

The brainchild of one of America’s most innovative and groundbreaking cheese makers, Allison Hooper of Vermont Creamery, this beauty is made with fresh pasteurized goat’s milk that comes from family farms. Once those farms are teeming with baby goats is when this cheese really starts to shine. The fresh, grassy notes are brightened with the velvety paste and unctuous creamline. We want to celebrate this perfection (and the blooming of springtime) with a glass of something sparkling. Go classic with a French champagne or an American cider.

 

Curd to your Mother!

Mother’s Day is just a few days away, and I have been thinking about all the things you can do with cheese to make Mom feel super special. I also am pretty lazy, and spend most of my time selling cheese, so I needed to come up with some ideas that don’t take up too much of my time (Not that my mother isn’t worth all the time in the world – Love you, Mom!). Here are some simple ways to make your mother’s special day a little bit cheesier.

For Breakfast in Bed

This barely takes five minutes, and you can finish it before you’ve had your first cup of coffee.  Slice a baguette, and top it with a dollop of fresh ricotta. Drizzle honey on top and sprinkle with walnuts. Rush it to Mom’s room before she is out of bed (don’t forget the coffee, which will actually pair really nicely). Guaranteed to win you some serious brownie points.

Want to get a bit more intricate?

Go for an omelet.  Eggs are pretty easy, but even easier to jazz up. A good alpine cheese will bring any omelet to a whole new level. Try Challerhocker which will add a mild nuttiness, and spice. Want even more depth? Try Etivaz. This cheese is essentially a super-charged  Gruyere. Throw some fresh spring vegetables in there and call it a day! Mother’s Day!

Moms Love Chocolate

Roquefort and chocolate. Seriously. The nutty and astringent qualities of this sheep’s milk blue goes perfectly with the complex flavors of a dark chocolate. The textural experience is pretty amazing too. Chocolate and cheese, a win for sure.

No matter what you do for Mom this Sunday, we hope her day is extra special!

Underrated Cheese

By: Lauren McDowell


Many people visit the world famous Murray’s cheese counter to taste something they’ve never tasted before, or to pick up something undiscovered by most. Here are a few of our favorite selections that are often overlooked.

Salva Cremasco – This Italian cow may be the absolute best value in our cheese case. As a cheese lover (and starving student) it’s hard for me to contain my giddy-ness over a supremely and lacticly delicious cheese that doesn’t obliterate my food budget for the week! The rainbow hued rind gives this cube a funkiness that belies its smooth, mild interior.

Cashel Blue – Time and again, we all look to the classic French blues when perusing the blue-molded section of Murray’s cheeses. I’m guilty of it as well, but when I fondly recall a short-lived and glorious semester spent abroad in Galway, Ireland, I reach for the oft-forgotten Cashel Blue. Excellent with a juicy pear or ripe red apple, the creamy and pleasantly mild blue sings with cucumber slices on dark toast, paired with a roasty Guinness, or an Irish whiskey.

Pecorino Foglie de Noce– A rustic cheese from the capital of food in Italy, Emilia-Romagna, these small wheels are covered in walnut leaves and aged in barrels, imparting milky, nutty flavors.

Sheep’s milk cheeses frequently leave you wanting in flavor, but not so with this crumbly wheel, at home both on a cheese board or grated over your pasta instead of the ubiquitous Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino romano.

Pata Cabra – Mild-mannered and semi-firm, this Spanish goat’s milk cheese will surprise you every time. Aged in Murray’s caves, each log is unique with varied levels of tang and pungency, but always anchored by the bright white interior and citrus essence characteristic of goat’s milk cheese. Especially for those who shy away from the more intense washed rinds (think Alsatian Munster), this totally snackable and always underrated selection challenges the palate in the most delightful of ways.

Chevre Noir – A goat cheddar, you ask incredulously? Never. Oh yes, a goat cheddar from Quebec, this bright white block all dressed up in black defies expectations. Grassy and fruity, use it as you would any cheddar for an elevated and creamy experience that even the most ardent of vegetarians can love (the fromagerie up in Canada uses microbial rennet!).

Gorgonzola Cremificato—A question for all my blue cheese-loving friends: if you could eat blue cheese ice cream, would you? If the answer is yes-of-course-no-duh-where-can-I-get-that, you’ve probably been overlooking the luscious, creamy, just-right sweetness of this spoonable cow’s milk Italian blue.  Not to be confused with its more piquant relative Mountain Gorgonzola or less sweet but mighty strong Gorgonzola dolce Artigianale, this is a classic you need to get to know or re-visit.

Brebirousse d’Argental—We get a lot of customers in the Bleecker St. store who come in looking for a spreadable cheese they can nosh on with a bit of baguette.

It seems that everyone knows about creamy cow’s milk favorites, but there are less who are acquainted with this equally wonderful French sheep cheese. This gooey, complex darling boasts a grassy, tangy meaty flavor as unique as its lovely bright orange rind. This is a great pick for cheese plates when you want a cheese to taste as good as it looks!

Brunet—Beneath the unassuming white rind on each round of Brunet one discovers an opus of rich, tangy and woodsy flavored perfection—an accomplishment courtesy of the tender-lovin’ care it was given as it aged in Murray’s Caves.  The interior cake-like texture even comes with its own icing in the creamline. Two textures+many flavors=one great cheese.

Tomme du Bosquet—For the cheese lover who wants a goat that packs a punch without the stinkiness of a washed-rind, here’s your new favorite! This semi-soft raw goat’s milk cheese recalls a strong, earthy pungency reminiscent of a walk through the woods on a cool autumn evening. If that analogy sounds a tad over-the-top romantic, it’s because you haven’t tried this cheese yet!

Pawlet—While washed-rind cheeses traditionally come from Western Europe, rich Jersey cow milk makes American-made Pawlet (from Vermont’s Consider Bardwell Farms) a standout in its own right.  The bright flavor and creamy texture will appeal to many palates, and the extra aging in Murray’s caves brings a buttery funk to the table you won’t find anywhere else.

We Love It: Goat Cheese 10 Ways

 

Goat cheese is known for its bright, fresh, and lemony flavors. During the winter I stick to stronger washed rind and Alpine style cheese, but as spring approaches I start to crave the more delicate flavors. While some goats milk cheeses might be more minerally, and others more pungent, they all pair perfectly with spring. Here are 10 of our favorite things that you can do with goat cheese:

  1. Sweeten it up: Spread VBC Chevre on baguette and top with some honey for a sweet treat.
  2. Crumble on top: Sprinkle Westfield Capri over roasted beets & top with a little coarse salt.
  3. In a quiche: Add a lightly aged goat cheese like Crottin to your next quiche for a touch of earthiness.
  4. In an omelet: Try shredded Garrotxa, spinach and some salty Jamon Serrano.
  5. Paired with bubbly: Sparkling wine goes great with a French goat cheese like Selles-Sur-Cher or Valencay.
  6. On a pizza: Top with herbed fresh goat cheese, your choice of veggies and sundried tomatoes
  7. With greens: Add flavor to an earthy Kale salad with salty Capra Sarda and some sweet dried cherries.
  8. In sauces: Make your favorite pasta primavera recipe and add fresh goat cheese like Petit Billy to the sauce for a creamy texture.
  9. Top off your soup: tangy Chevre Noir is perfect for finishing spring soups
  10. Au naturel: There’s a goat cheese for everyone, whether you love fresh flavors, feta, gouda, something peppery, blues, stinky cheese or something unusual. Try them all!

 

Recipe: Murray’s Pasta Primavera

This one’s a keeper. That’s what you’ll say when you taste this Murray’s adapted springtime favorite.

Murray’s Pasta Primavera with Parmigiano Reggiano

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb penne
  • 2 t olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 1 cup medium diced marinated artichoke
  • 1 cup roasted tomato
  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup crème fraiche
  • ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, additional for topping
  • 3 cups loosely packed arugula
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta per box instructions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large sauté pan on high. Add onion until aromatic; about 2 minute.
  3. Add artichoke and tomato, cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add stock to pan and reduce by half, about 4 minutes.
  5. Once reduced, add peas, cook for one minute and mix in crème fraiche and Murray’s Parmigiano Reggiano, cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Remove from heat; add arugula, stirring until wilted. Combine mixture with strained pasta, and serve with grated Murray’s Parmigiano Reggiano. Don’t be shy.
  8. Enjoy at room temperature or heated through.

Serves 4