The Murray’s Blue Cheese Guide: From Mild to Wild

Blue cheese is undoubtedly the most divisive type of cheese on the market. There. We said it. Ask “Are you a blue cheese person?” and you’re  bound to hear some strong feelings. Some people hate the intense spicyness (which many in the blue cheese world call “Piquancy”), the strong flavors of the mold, and well, the blueness of blue cheese. For others, that is precisely the draw — blues are intensely flavored in ways that few other cheeses are, and for those who love that experience, little else compares.

But we’re here to tell you not all blue cheeses are the same, and that there is, in fact, an entire spectrum of blue cheese. You may have sworn off the blue stuff for being too pungent or salty, but maybe a more relaxed blue is the cheese you’ve been waiting to love all along. We like to say there’s a spectrum for all cheese, but especially for blue cheese: From Mild to Wild. So what’s the perfect blue for you? Check out our guide below, which starts with the least intense blues to the most intense and includes our favorites at each level.

Mild: Roelli Cheese Haus Dunbarton Blue


For those who want to dip their toe into the blue cheese world, we suggest starting with Dunbarton Blue. Fourth generation cheesemaker Chris Roelli committed the equivalent of blue cheese heresy by piercing his cheese and then pressing it to inhibit the mold growth. The result is Dunbarton Blue, a sort of blue-veined cheddar that’s mildly potent yet approachable. Chris presses the cheese to inhibit blue mold growth, and what develops is earthy and Cheddary in texture, with a sharpness that one would expect from this combination. We like to think of it as “Blue Cheese Light”, and it’s a real crowd pleaser.

Other mild blues we love: Persille De Rambouillet, Westfield Blue Log

Moderate: Bleu Du Bocage


Ready to go a little further into the funk? We like nutty, slightly meaty Bleu Du Bocage. From the Loire Region of France, this goat’s milk blue’s paste mellows to a bacony, toastiness while the blue veining provides some piquancy. It’s a spicy but lightly sweet and acidic blue that is buttery and delicately smooth in texture. Each bite melts on the tongue like butter, leaving a taste of roasted pork and roasted walnuts lingering on the palate.

Other moderate blues that get us going: Chiriboga Blue, Blue Ledge Farms Middlebury Blue

Getting Crazy: Jasper Hill Farm Bayley Hazen Blue


Now we’re getting serious about blue: the multi-award winning Bayley Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. Named for a Revolutionary War road in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, this raw milk, farmhouse blue is ready for conquest. Thanks to its determined creators, the Kehler brothers, this Stilton-esque cylinder fulfills its duties. Expect a dry yet dense paste, and full of balanced chocolate, hazelnut, and licorice flavors. This cheese is definitely blue, with pleasant pepperiness and complexity, but it’s smooth paste mellows it considerably. One taste and you’ll know why it’s considered one of the best blues in America.

Other slightly crazy blues: Fourme D’Ambert, Point Reyes Original Blue

Wild: Roquefort


For the deep end of the spectrum, we look to the most classic, old world blue: Roquefort. From the caves of Combalou in southern France, Roquefort, arguably the worlds greatest blue, has had its name and methods protected since 1411! Roquefort’s heavenly flavor is reminiscent of the cavern air where the cheese ripens and the mold naturally grows, transforming the Lacaune ewe’s milk it’s made of. This variety is round, deep, and perfectly balanced: big, creamy chunks of the paste dissolve on the palate like sharp, soothing milky lozenges. Sweet and fudgy, its linger is peppery and sometimes quite spicy. For serious blue cheese lovers, there’s no substitute.

Other wild blues: Kings Island Dairy Roaring Forties, Valdeon, Old Chatham Sheepherding Ewe’s Blue

There you have it, the definitive Murray’s guide to Blue Cheese. Whether you’re just looking to try a blue that you won’t hate, or you’re a passionate blue cheese lover who’s interested in expanding your blue horizons, we hope you’ve found some inspiration. As with any cheese family, the only way to know what you do or do not like is to taste, taste, taste. Now go out and get some blues!

Meet the Maker: The Meat Hook Sausage Co.

On a quiet street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you’ll find meat nirvana at The Meat Hook. A Brooklyn butchery that prides itself on transparency, The Meat Hook sources animals that are always pasture-raised on small farms in the northeast, and come directly to the shop from slaughter.

While they are a whole animal butcher shop with great steaks, pork chops, and more, we’re partial to their carefully made, absolutely delicious sausages. No funny business, no middleman, no fillers. Just straight quality and integrity, which is what makes these links some of the best around. We love these sausages so much that we collaborated for two fall-inspired recipes:

Meat Hook Bratwurst with Tumeric Slaw

Bratwurst, often shortened to “brat” in American English, is a common type of sausage in the United States, especially in the state of Wisconsin, where the largest ancestry group is German. Originally brought to North America by German immigrants, it is a common sight at summer cookouts, alongside the more famous hot dog. The Meat Hook makes an exemplary version of this cookout classic: it’s pasture-raised pork seasoned with caraway, ginger, and pepper, all sealed in a natural casing. Juicy, plump, and savory, the way a brat ought to be.

We think this recipe gives you the best tasting version of the idealized brat on a bun, with an addition of a pretzel bun and Indian-leaning toppings such as curry mustard, piccalilli relish, and a celery slaw. The warm spices of the bratwurst are echoed and amplified by the zingy toppings, making for a comforting bite perfect for tailgates or Tuesdays. While the recipe is for only one sandwich, the added slaw recipe is enough for many more brats and will last in the fridge for a few more days.

Taste of Fall Salad with Meat Hook Italian Sausage

While sausages are undoubtedly a gameday favorite, why only relegate them to the summer? We love this hearty and fall-flavored salad with a little sausage added in. Starting with the pristine Meat Hook Italian Sausages, we add a few seasonal spins to this salad, making it perfect for fall. The paprika, garlic, fennel, and rosemary notes from an Italian sausage are all there, as is the sweetness of peppers, fig chutney, and balsamic. We’ve also added rustic, nutty flavors with squash, sweet potato, and pumpkin, to ensure this dish both looks and tastes like fall. For good measure, there’s fresh greens and a nice shaving of cheese over top too. Filling, hearty, and satisfying—just like an autumn dish should be.

The 25 Most Important Cheeses in America, According to Cheese Experts (Bon Appetit)

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A celebration of American Cheese Month wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of the most important, iconic cheeses in America. But where do you draw the line? Who gets included and who is left out? Luckily for us, the good, informed people at Bon Appetit interviewed 7 cheeses experts (including our own SVP of Sales and Marketing, Elizabeth Chubbuck) to compile a list of the 25 Most Important Cheeses in America. The list includes everything from multi-award winners (such as Pleasant Ridge Reserve), to trailblazers (like Vermont Creamery Coupole). As an added bonus, you can buy more than half of the cheeses on the list from Murray’s!

True to the reality and ever-changing landscape of Cheesemaking in America, a few of the cheeses on the list are only available a few months out of the year, or are not even being produced anymore. Cheesemakers are always trying, testing, and perfecting the next big cheese, and some cheeses, even those that are considered classics, may fall by the wayside. The good news is, most of the cheeses on this list have been so important and popular that there’s plenty to go around, and will be for many years to come. Check out the list, and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Red Sauce and Melted Mozz: Cheese and Italian Food in America

The metaphor of the United States as a cultural melting pot is probably best applied to our food. Immigrants from all over the world come here bringing their distinct foodways with them; they adapt their recipes to local tastes and the ingredients available, and eventually the cuisine becomes inextricably part of the American fabric. No better example of this is Italian food and Italian-American food; at the turn of the last century a wave of Southern Italian immigrants came to this country looking for a brighter future, maybe not even realizing that many of those futures would depend on the pasta, tomato sauce, pizza, and pastry recipes they brought along with them.

Once here, Italian immigrants realized that while they were able to find many ingredients they needed, there was no substitute for real Italian cheese: like Parmigiano Reggiano, the nutty, crumbly ‘King of cheese’ from Emilia-Romagna needed for Chicken and Veal Parmigiano, or Pecorino Romano, its bold and salty cousin from Lazio, needed to grate over pasta. The role of cheese in Italian food cannot be overstated; the Roman Legion marched on rations of Pecorino Romano, still made in the village of Nepi by Fulvi using the same recipe from nearly 2000 years ago.

Pecorino Romano

For many Italian immigrants to the United States meat was a luxury, and cheese eaten with some crusty ciabatta or grated over pasta provided both the flavors of home, and an important source of nutrition. Over time, other Americans discovered just how delicious this new ‘ethnic’ food was, and were therefor introduced to the world of Italian cheese.

In Italian-American cuisine, cheese is not only eaten as antipasti with olives and cured meats, but is also a key ingredient in so many of our most beloved dishes, mac and cheese being the most American of all. But make no mistake, that ‘mac’ stands for maccheroni!

Mac and Cheese at Murray’s Cheese Bar

And while cheddar cheeses are the most commonly used today, melting cheese like Fontina and young Asiago Pressato are probably what this dish was originally made with. Either way, don’t forget the grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top to get that perfect crust.

Italian-American dishes have become what we think of as comfort food; dishes that are simple and delicious, and are always crowd pleasers. Chicken Parmigiano might be the ultimate expression of how Italian immigrants adapted their traditional recipes to the American palate. Eggplant Parmigiana, or Mellenzana alla Parmigiana is what you will find in Italy, but Italian immigrants saw that other Americans preferred meat for their main meal and as Italian-Americans became able to afford meat regularly, the change to chicken was made here in the New World. Now chicken (or sometimes veal) is breaded, fried, covered in tangy tomato sauce, and smothered in a gooey layer of mozzarella. But the real flavor comes from the Parmigiano Reggiano liberally grated over top and often mixed in with the breading of the chicken. This dish can now be found on almost every Italian-American restaurant menu.

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Italian-American food continues to evolve as well. A more recent addition to the landscape of Italian-American cuisine are variations on Cacio e Pepe, the classic Roman pasta made with Pecorino Romano and black pepper. Innovative chefs are using this flavor combination in new and delicious ways from roasted vegetables to garlic knots.

Click the photo to make this classic Cacio e Pepe for yourself!

Italian cheeses also enhance salads, making them a meal in and of themselves. With Autumn and an abundance of apples, plums, and pears fast approaching, there is no better cheese to have on hand than Gorgonzola Cremificato.

This softer, richer counterpart to Mountain Gorgonzola is at its best when joined with zesty arugula, toasted nuts, and ripe juicy pears. And of course it’s a key ingredient in a classic four cheese pizza. Gorgonzola Cremificato (also called Gorgonzola Dolce) is a wonderful cheese to offer your friends who don’t yet love blue cheese, because its creamy texture prevents too much blue mold growth and results in a more pronounced sweetness. With a drizzle of Italian Acacia Honey and some Vin Santo you’ve got the perfect end to an Italian-American meal.

Gorgonzola Cremificato

And if you think we could explore the world of Italian-American food without mentioning pizza at least three times, Gorgonzola Cremificato is also a key ingredient in Pizza Quartto Formaggi, that’s four cheese pizza (aka our kind of pizza).

Buon Appetitio!

Cheese Rinds and Salami Ends: What to Do With Antipasto Leftovers

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Italians do not let anything go to waste, especially when it comes to food. Things like Panzanella (a salad made with stale bread as its base), or Polenta (boiled cormeal that could be served in a variety of ways).  But what about foods that seem inedible? Things like bones and cheese rinds may not seem too appetizing, especially when most of us can go to the store and buy more of the meat that was on that bone, or the cheese that was in that rind. The world didn’t always have these conveniences, however, and the need to repurpose leftovers or use the entirety of a product has lead to some of the most delicious dishes in culinary history. Read on as we take a look at three major “waste” products you may find leftover after your next Italian feast, and tell you what to do with them!

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano Rinds

Most people see the rind of a cheese much as they see the wrapper of a sandwich, something that is purely there to protect the “good stuff” and to be thrown out when it has served its purpose. Something like the rind of a wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano may sometimes fall victim to this idea. But something so delicious should be fully enjoyed right? And you paid for the rind, so you may as well use it.

This rind is naturally made and edible, but is a bit tough, and maybe not as flavorful as the cheese it protects. There are a couple of things you could do with these overlooked pieces, but our favorite is to add it to a simmering tomato sauce. One of the greatest things in this world is a red sauce (Gravy or Ragu based on the region) cooked low and slow for many hours on the stove. When you add a couple of pieces of parm rind to the heavenly mixture, you will find that it adds a bit of its natural saltiness and flavor that you would not get if you just added salt. The heat allows an aroma and flavor to be extracted from the rind to create a whole new experience.

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Prosciutto Bones

Like the rinds on cheese, bones make up a part of your total purchase when you buy meat, and it may seem like another item you’ve wasted money on. Once again, it helps to look to the past to figure out what to do with it. When families in the rural parts of Italy would raise a pig, it had to last them for many months. They prepared it in a variety of ways, cured meats like prosciutto and coppa, and fresh meats like pork chops and tenderloin. Only so much of the animal is meat, so at the end, you are left with bones, such as a bone from a leg of prosciutto.

Like the rind on a parm wheel, the flavor of these sorts of bones are coaxed out through heat. Adding it to a pot of stewing minestrone soup, for instance, will add a bit of savory delight to an already incredible meal. Like the sauce, the hot stew will take on the flavors of the bone that would otherwise go undiscovered.

Columbus Cacciatore Salami

Salami Ends

At the end of a salami or sopressata chub is always a small amount of meat that you can no longer slice or just doesn’t get gobbled up. Don’t throw those pieces of flavor out! We like to chop these ends into small cubes, then add them to pastas, on top of pizzas, or throw them into another Italian favorite: Antipasto Salad. Spicy, meaty, colorful — this is a salad that equal parts satisfying and delicious, and takes up the Italian American food mantra that “More is Better”.

Murray’s Antipasti Salad

In a world which is more and more concerned about waste and stretching your dollar to its fullest, these methods may come in handy. Unlike the old days when many of these practices came from necessity, we have the opportunity to choose to do something delicious with these “less popular” items. These are just a few examples of what to do with these products, so feel free to use your imagination. The next time you get to the rind of a hunk of Parm or the end of a salami chub, think about those who came before you, and make them proud by adding these pieces to your next culinary masterpiece instead of the waste basket.