Let’s be honest. These days, not everyone feels comfortable gathering in a space to take our classes. And that’s okay. We created our virtual classes for just that reason. One of the great things is each participant can participate from the intimacy of their own space. The best part is that even if you’re not in the NYC area, you can join any of our virtual classes. We participated in the Virtual Sparkling Wine & Cheese Pairing class and share what went down. This one was timely because of the upcoming holidays. (Hello New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day date night!)
The setup is pretty simple. Before the class, we received an email with an invite to the virtual class. We also received a cutting and plating guide for class day. You know, because, we’re all about showing off our best presentation on social. Oh, and let’s not forget the cheese! Each cheese was listed with several suggested pairings. And a couple of days before the class, we received a box with all the cheese from the aforementioned list. Here’s the cheese course that came for the sparkling wine pairing:
Vermont Creamery Herb Goat Cheese
Murray’s Aged English Cheddar
Two Sisters Isabella Aged Gouda
Once the class started, our knowledgeable instructor, Cara, introduced herself and explained the process of both cheese making and sparkling wine—so it was novice-friendly. She shared that she’s spent more than a decade in cheese, food, and wine. Plus Cara’s married to a cheese monger. How cool is that?
During the class, Cara shared her screen so we could follow along. We were able to ask questions, talk about the different cheese pairings, and share our location in the chat. One thing we love about our virtual classes is that just about anyone can join from anywhere. And this time was no different. People joined from all over the country—from Alabama to New Hampshire and Maryland to California.
Now for the down and dirty. Our boards were set up to go from mild to wild. That means fresher, younger cheese was first up for the palate. The sparkling wine lineup was a cava or prosecco for the first two, a champagne or sparkling rosé for the next two, and a sparkling red shiraz for the last two.
We began with the goat cheese. This one was aged for just 3 days, then rolled in an Herb de Provence blend. The taste was a combination of earthy, fresh, dill, and rosemary, with a touch of bitterness. The bubbles of the sparkling enhanced the aftertaste and balanced out the bitterness.
Next up was the Brebirousse d’Argental. The orange annatto rind provided a lovely contrast against the rest of the cheese board. It’s a gooey, creamy, bloomy cheese—like a Brie but to the next level. There’s a level of funk, buttery notes, and nuttiness. The sparkling cut through a little of the barnyardy taste.
For the third tasting, we switched from a French cheese to an Italian one. The Taleggio is another melty choice with some funkiness to it. This creamer had meaty notes with a touch of crunch, and a little vegetal flavor. There were mixed reviews on this pairing and many thought it paired better with the first wine.
Midway through, we tried the cheddar. It’s a snackable, everyday cheese with some umami flavors. Aged for 12–16 months, it has some crystallization. The wine’s bubbles brought out a little of the funk and bitterness of this cheese.
Second to last, we had the gouda. This wasn’t your typical Holland gouda. It was more similar to cheddar but with a different texture and less of a sharpness. There were Alpine notes of caramel, butterscotch, and bullion. The sweeter shiraz bubbly was a good match.
We ended the evening with the strongest of the bunch—the Stilton. This cheese starts off white like a cheddar but through the cheese making process, it’s needled to take on more of a blue cheese character. It’s a bit salty with some funk and a little bitterness on the finish. The red worked well with this one.
Joining one of the virtual cheese classes was a different experience. We’d do it again and highly recommend it for a date night. With Valentine’s Day coming up, it would make a great cheese gift to share with your beloved. Or grab a group of friends and have yourself a Galantine’s Day get-together full of gourmet cheese gifts. You’ll learn have a delicious cheese course and learn something new, while having some fun!
What happens in our Murray’s Caves in Long Island City is true cheese magic. Affinage, or the cheese aging process, is a meticulous science that often produces delicious and surprising results, and the members of our Caves Team are engineers in creating brand new cheeses and remixes of old favorites. Our line of Cave Aged releases takes traditional cheeses from makers you know and love, and ages them in our state-of-the-art affinage system to bring out new flavors and textures without any additives, flavoring, or special experimentation.
A few years back, Walter Räss, the cheesemaker behind the legendary Challerhocker, came and visited our caves. With him he brought some wheels of cheese. We held onto it in the caves, aging it as an experiment. It turned out so well that it became one of our Cavemaster Reserve products: Annelies, named after Walter’s wife. Walter is an alpine cheesemaker, Annelies is an alpine cheese. And it’s quite an excellent one at that, with flavors of roasted hazelnuts, vibrant alpine grasses, lush butterscotch, and bittersweet cocoa. Typically we age it from 9-12 months.
But what would’ve happened if we just let Walter’s wheels continue to age in our caves a little longer? The result, the new Cave Aged Limited 18 Month Annelies, an extra aged version of our crowd pleaser Annelies. We sat down with Head Cavemaster PJ to get the inside scoop on how the aging process turned this classic into a new cheese release.
Annelies is already so delicious! Why age it longer?
Cheese is constantly evolving as it ages. The flavor will slowly change and intensify over time. If aged in the right conditions with appropriate care, certain cheeses could age for years without losing quality. When that happens, the age at which we sell a cheese becomes a question about preference and flavor profile. When Annelies ages for 18 months, it is a different cheese but still excellent in its own way.
How do you decide which wheels are aged to 18 months rather than the typical 9-12 months?
We wanted to make sure that we selected wheels that were in good shape for extra aging. This means rinds that were intact and the absence of any flavor defects. The flavor in the cheese will amplify as it ages longer, so it is important to select cheeses that taste great already.
What is the affinage process on Annelies? Tell us about it!
The affinage process for Annelies is straightforward. We store the cheese on wood boards in our alpine cave, where the conditions are calibrated for this style of cheese. Over the course of the aging, we flip and wash each cheese with water weekly. This means the 18-month Annelies is washed by hand 78 times!
What does 18 Month Annelies taste like? How is it different?
Our 18 month Annelies is a very flavorful cheese. The extra aging brings out plenty of onion and nutty notes. It becomes a more savory and less sweet version of our regular Annelies with the extra aging.
How do you like to enjoy Annelies 18 month?
This cheese has the complexity necessary to stand on its own and would make a great addition to any cheese plate. I also wouldn’t hesitate to incorporate it into a fondue.
You undoubtedly have your favorites but have you wondered what’s really popular? Well, we’re ending off 2021 with a look at our best-selling cheeses. This year was all about decadence and finding a little cheese happiness. If ever there was a year to indulge, 2021 was it. Rare and seasonal varieties took centerstage. Throw in a truffle cheese to round out the list and you have yourself quite the roster. Now on to the cheeses!
Perhaps one of the most popular and sought-after holiday cheeses, it’s no surprise this spruce-wrapped Swiss cheese made the top 10. Its rich, liquid-like texture has a pungent, funkiness to it that’s beloved by cheese aficionados. Made high in the Alpine mountains, this seasonal cheese is generally only available between October and April. Eating one of these spectacular wheels is nothing short of an experience.
Among other things, 2021 was about treating yourself to life’s little luxuries—like truffles and a good cheese. This black truffle-studded Italian pecorino is both! Black truffle paste is added after six months of aging, creating beautiful marbleization and a flavor that permeates throughout. Bold and earthy, this dense and fudgy cheese tastes even better than it looks!
A bright yellow interior beckons to be eaten. Similar to aged Gouda, it’s aged up to 4 years, giving it the crystallization that lends to its crunch. Highly snackable, it’s a hard cheese (trust us, you’ll need a good knife) that has an intense sweet-salty butterscotch flavor. Not only is this one a customer favorite, it’s a Murray’s staff favorite, too!
Napoléon was rumored to have been a huge fan of this French cheese. And apparently so were many of you! This one almost disappeared after WW2 but luckily made a comeback. It’s got some serious funk to the smell but has a milder disposition with a complex, meaty flavor. Bacony, gooey, creamy—the paste is a flavor bomb and everything a good cheese should be.
Named one of the best cheeses in the world last year, it’s no surprise this one surged to the top of the list. This seasonal blue is aged for 9-11 months and is wrapped in pear brandy-soaked grape leaves. Fudgy and rich with a craggy appearance, it has a vegetal and smoky blue flavor. It’s both bold and fruity at once. We wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up on next year’s list.
Scoop up this silky-smooth, spoonable cheese and enjoy it for another year. In fact, the American Cheese Society crowned as the best washed-rind in the country. Together with Jasper Hill, we created an exclusive cheese aged in our very own caves and wrapped in a spruce jacket. Like the Epoisses above, it’s a creamy-textured cheese with big bacony flavor. Prepare for an explosion of taste.
One of France’s most famous cheeses was also a 2021 customer favorite. This smooth variety has a supple texture and is a great melter—perfect to take your grilled cheese up a level. It’s also a great snackable cheese in its original form. Rich flavors of brown butter and hazelnut are balanced by the sweetness of dried fruit and subtle hints of citrus, making this one a must-have.
Hailing from the Alpine region, this cheese has been gaining in popularity for a while. Salty from its washed brine, it has a deep, fruity pungency. Its name translates into “to scrape” and that exactly how to serve it. Follow the French tradition and melt it over potatoes or roasted root veggies, then have yourself a cozy night in.
Even a cheese novice is likely familiar with mozzarella. Unlike most cheeses, which come from cows, sheep, and goats, this one comes from buffalo. The result is a rich, creamy cheese that has double the content of cow’s milk. Ours is pillowy and dense, with a slightly sweet and slightly gamy flavor. Elevate your next homemade pizza with this version.
Rounding out the top 10 is a cheese that may be the GOAT for some people. That being said, this tangy goat cheese is definite favorite. This bloomy cheese has a distinctive layer of ash on the exterior, with a line running through the middle. It has a fresh, fudgy texture of goat milk in the middle, surrounded by a pungent runny shell. It’s a true American classic.
We sat down with Julia Collins, founder of Moonshot Snacks, to chat about the incredible work they do that goes way beyond producing some of the most delicious crackers around. Among their line of craveworthy snacks are two of our favorites: the Rosemary & Garlic Crackers and the Tomato & Basil variety. At Moonshot, it’s their top priority to develop delicious, carbon neutral products that are good for both the planet and the people in it. Read on to learn more about this incredible company!
How did the idea for the business come about?
I truly believe that every single person has the right to be a part of the solution to climate change. When I learned that more than a third of human-made greenhouse gas emissions come from land use and food systems, I realized that there was an opportunity to take action. With Moonshot, I wanted to do more than just create one carbon neutral snack brand. I wanted to build a climate-friendly food movement, inviting all people to take part in one of the best solutions to climate change. Because I believe that if you want to change the world, change food.
Before creating Moonshot, I did a lot of research about sustainable food systems and regenerative agriculture and realized that regenerative agriculture needed to be the foundation of our snack. As I began looking for the right ingredients, I realized that it would be possible to not only source from great farmers but also promote the kind of agriculture that helps to improve biodiversity, protect ecosystems, and protect our planet by drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and into the soil.
Fighting climate change is the core tenet of the brand, can you speak a little more on your mission and how it’s evolved throughout the business’s growth?
At Moonshot, our ultimate goal is to build a climate-friendly food movement that unites all people in a delicious community of climate action! While there is no silver bullet solution to the climate crisis, we do believe that we can all eat our way to a better future. The way that we engage people in this movement is to create truly delicious products that people love.
In dreaming of the best product to create we got really excited about snacks because snacking accounts for 50% of all eating occasions and 94% of people say they snack at least once a day. That’s a lot of snacking and people who snack deserve to eat food that is tasty, good for their bodies and good for the earth.
Our mission has been and always will be to fight climate change while protecting people and the planet. Climate change isn’t just about CO2, it’s about people. That’s why we are so interested in using our voice within the world of snacks to help our customers connect with stories of regenerative agriculture, healthier food systems and net zero products. That’s why we work tirelessly to not only educate our snackers on the impact food has on the earth, but about the intersection of climate justice and social justice.
We also want to recognize and celebrate that the sustainable farming practices we use to grow our wheat – regenerative agriculture – are rooted in indigenous wisdom. Our packaging recognizes that our headquarters sits on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Yelamu tribe, in what’s also known as San Francisco. We are the first CPG brand to include a land acknowledgment and a definition for regenerative agriculture on our packaging. We believe that educating our consumers is a vital component of the larger work we are doing to recognize and include indigenous communities and ancestral wisdom in our work.
Being a Black women-owned business is something to celebrate–can you share any positive experiences through that lens or any role models or inspiration you’ve had on this journey?
One of the many beautiful things about being a Black woman, building a business is that I feel a deep connection and an ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Because I carry the lived experience of being an “other” I can truly connect and empathize with anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t quite belong. And it turns out that so many people, maybe the majority of people have at one time felt that they were misjudged, or totally left out because of some element of their identity. Being different has made me lean into being inclusive. When you look at the team that we have assembled around Moonshot and Planet FWD, from our core team to all of our partners and investors, you’ll see that we are perhaps the most radically diverse team in our sector. This is something that I feel really proud of.
I’ve had countless role models in my life, particularly as I’ve stepped deeper into the work of working to solve climate change, but the person who has been most influential through every phase of my life has been my mom. She has taught me the power of poise and as I watch her seamlessly navigate the many circles of her life, as a company executive, a wife, a mother and a grandmother, I see that all things are possible.
Obviously, regenerative agriculture and climate-friendly ingredients are a must for your make process, but how do you go about choosing those ingredients as well as the different flavors you produce? How’d you choose your production partners?
When I set out to create Moonshot I hadn’t a clue of what kind of snack I wanted to make. I just knew I wanted it to be the first climate-friendly snack to exist, to pave the way for others behind us. In a way, I feel as though crackers chose me.
When I set out to create a snack, I first connected with an absolutely amazing miller named Kevin Morse at Cairnspring Mills, based in the Skagit Valley of Washington. Next, he introduced me to an incredible family-owned 4th-generation farm, and now 1st-generation regenerative farm just down the road, Hedlin Farms. Hedlin Farms grows the most flavorful wheat using regenerative practices, like cover cropping and crop rotation that build nutrients in the soil while protecting the soil and our planet.
After some initial recipe testing with the flour from their wheat, crackers became a clear choice. We’ve also come to appreciate the simplicity of crackers as a conduit for our message of a climate-friendly future. I know I’m biased, but they quickly became my favorite crackers, due to the intense flavor and quality of the wheat grown at Hedlin Farms and the stone milling done at Cairnspring that creates depths of flavor in the wheat.
From there, we chose flavors that are easy to pair or enjoy solo. Sourdough is a San Francisco tradition and felt like a must-have. Rosemary Garlic is a classic for pairing with great cheeses, one of my first food love affairs developed during my time working at Murray’s in New York. And lastly, given my history with pizza, we really wanted to do our own spin on a pizza flavor – which is where Tomato Basil comes into play.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy Moonshot Crackers? Any favorite pairings in particular?
I eat so many Moonshot crackers that I have a favorite for each flavor. I find that Champagne pairs nicely with Sourdough Sea Salt. I really love to pair Tomato Basil with hummus and Sourdough Sea Salt with tomato soup. I love Rosemary Garlic with goat cheese and preserved lemon! They’re also delicious on their own, I tend to keep a bowl next to my laptop throughout the workday.
Can you speak to what’s next for Moonshot or any goals for the future?
We’re currently working on developing new flavors for our cracker, which is very exciting. We can’t wait for you all to enjoy what’s next. In this process, we’re working closely with our farmers to figure out the right ingredients and flavors that are both super tasty and climate-friendly.
We’re also looking to a future beyond crackers, as we expand Moonshot snacks into new varieties and formats. We plan to continue partnering with farmers to make the most flavorful, diversified and sustainable decisions possible. This means looking at other grains, what grows best on a farmers’ land and asking the right questions to figure out how to achieve our climate impact goals through our sustainable sourcing.
And of course, we’re always excited to keep expanding the climate-friendly food movement we’re building and welcoming more people in!
We have a vision for all food brands to reach carbon neutrality by understanding, reducing and neutralizing their carbon footprints. We believe in this vision so much that we actually designed a technology platform that is managed by our sister company, Planet FWD to help brands do just that, because we are so much stronger when we work together.
With a firsthand knowledge of Murray’s, is there anything else you think our customers should know about Moonshot
In many ways, my experience working at Murray’s early in my food career gave me the confidence to build my own brand. I remember watching in awe as all of these amazing producers would launch new products right there at the Bleecker Street store. I have always loved how Murray’s centers producers and gives voice to smaller brands who are making a big difference in the world.
Murray’s is so magical not only for their vast and unique cheese offerings but your incredible accouterment that can really make your charcuterie board shine. So I say pair often and with every combination on your cheeseboard! You’d be surprised how the earthy tones of Rosemary Garlic can be complemented by the sweetness of an apple or pumpkin butter or how the Sourdough cracker crumble can bring together a gourmet mac and cheese.
Want to find out more about Moonshot Snacks? Visit their website or shop their crackers at Murray’s!
With the holidays looking a little more normal this year, we’re reminded that the greatest gift is simply being together with friends and family. But if you’re looking to make your loved ones feel even more special, our annual Gift Guide makes it easy to find unique and heartfelt gifts. With stunning platters, virtual classes, and innovative cookware, the holidays are guaranteed to be full of love, joy, and cheese.
Our seasonal collections are a crowd-pleasing and delicious way to show how much you care. This year, we’ve curated some brand-new collections in addition to our signature classics to bring an impressive array of cheeses, meats, and other treats to your holiday feasts.
The Brie Lover’s Collection: This luxurious trio of double crèmebrie, black truffle honey, and Moka pecans is perfect for small get-togethers and elegant holiday happy hours. Our buttery Brie is bursting with a creamy decadence that’s a match made in heaven for Truffle Honey and cocoa-dusted caramelized pecans.
Cheddar Lover’s Collection: This original collection puts an emphasis on snackability with two sweet, grassy cheddars, creamy cheddar curds, a robust beef salami, and a bright bite of fruit jam. Serve it up with rustic crackers and nuts for a grazing plate that’ll be a hit at any holiday party.
Top Shelf: Your search for peak cheese decadence ends here. From truffle-infused cheeses to our best blues and timeless stunners like Epoisses and Parmigiano Reggiano, this selection of top-tier cheese boasts some equally excellent accompaniments like real honeycomb and cherry preserves.
Holiday Feast: This decadent feast is all the essential tastes of the holidays made gift-able! Three deliciously luxurious cheeses chosen by our expert mongers pair perfectly with cranberry orange jam, prosciutto and crackers for an impressive spread that’s bursting with holiday flavor.
Our monthly clubs are the gifts that keep on giving all year long! We guarantee that loved ones near and far will feel excitement and joy every time they receive a Murray’s shipment.
New! Mac and Cheese of the Month Club: Everyone’s favorite comfort food gets an upgrade with these monthly shipments of one Classic Mac and one Specialty Mac. Our Specialty Mac selections rotate each month, allowing you to try a range of our seasonal favorites such as Buffalo Chicken, French Onion, Truffle Mac, and more.
Classic Cheese of the Month Club: The perfect gift for classic cheese lovers and cheese newbies alike, this rotating collection of 3-4 approachable and iconic cheeses will delight any palate. Our specially selected cheeses range from the most delectable cheddars and triple creams to the brightest goat cheeses and most savory washed rind wheels.
Whether you’re throwing a holiday bash or looking for a thoughtful gift your hosts will truly appreciate, our tools of the trade can help make any party a success.
Brie Baker Hosting Set: A must-have for the home chef, this trio includes a stylish Boska ceramic cheese baker, a creamy wheel of Murray’s Mini Brie, and a delectably rich fig spread so you’ll be able to craft the perfect cheesy, melted delight in just minutes. Serve it up with crackers for an easy, crowd-pleasing cheese dish without the prep work.
Raclette Quattro: Be the life of the party with this professional-grade raclette machine from Holland-based Boska. Perfect for creating decadent melts over burgers, veggies, and just about anything else that deserves a serving of hot, gooey cheese (most things, in our opinion), this black metal stand features a heat lamp and a wire that can hold up to a quarter of a wheel of raclette.
This gorgeous marble cheese board doubles as a cutting board and includes a small pocket drawer, which slides out to reveal a three-piece stainless steel cheese serving set. Handcrafted from dazzling white marble and rich acacia, this is sourced from Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, and made by talented artisans in India.
Makers We Love:
Murray’s partners with standout makers from around the globe to bring artisanal small business products to your pantry.
Rustic Bakery: Naturally leavened flatbreads. Pecan and cranberry crostinis. Meyer lemon shortbreads. Mini gingerbread. There’s a reason this small Bay Area operation is our go-to for fine cheese accompaniments: their items are of the highest quality and made from the freshest ingredients.
Rustichella D’Abruzzo: Renowned for their authentic Italian pasta, Rustichella D’Abruzzo harvests local heirloom wheat during the summer to produce a toasty, textured, and undeniably tasty pasta. Their panettone, a mainstay of the Italian Christmas dinner, is studded with candied fig and dark chocolate for a taste like a cross between a challah and a babka. With a cup of coffee, it’s also the perfect breakfast on a cozy winter morning.
Searching for a last-minute gift for a long-distance relative or hard-to-please friend? We’ve got something for even the trickiest, pickiest names on your list.
Classes: We’ve designed both in-person and virtual educational classes where you can enjoy some Cheese 101 with our expert instructors while tasting through a flight of premium cheeses. Tickets to our online classes include a shipment of four cheeses and accompaniments– enough for four people to take the class.
A Murray’s gift card: The easiest way to give your loved one gift you know they’ll enjoy is to surprise them with an all-inclusive pass to the world of cheese! Perfect for shopping our award-winning selections of cheese, meats, and gourmet groceries.
Still feeling the holiday spirit? Check out our Holiday Gifts and Recipes for more of the season’s cheesiest gift and entertaining ideas.