With the holidays around the corner, the New York Times has already put out their 2016 Holiday Gift Guides. For a perfect experiences to give as a gift, the Times listed Murray’s Cheese 101 class as an ideal gift to give to your loved ones this year. Take a look!
Twinkly lights. Christmas music. Cozy sweaters…CHEESE!! Nothing says holiday spirit–and flavor–like these super seasonal cheese favorites. These gorgeous wheels are at their peak now, and many are only available for a precariously short amount of time. The clock is ticking.
Plus, a spot-on holiday cheese plate is a guaranteed way to spread love and joy. Happy shopping, feasting, and celebrating to you and yours!
Rush Creek Reserve
Uplands Cheese Co., one of the most beloved cheesemakers in the United States makes this Vacherin Mont d’Or-inspired beauty, possibly the most sought-after cheese in the world (pictured above). This is big news. And it makes total sense – the raw winter milk from their pastured herd of cows is less plentiful and of a quality that’s better suited to a younger, softer cheese, so they’ve done exactly what the French & Swiss have been doing for centuries: binding small wheels in spruce bark and washing them for sixty days to produce an astoundingly unctuous, resiny, bacony delight. Best served warm, with a bottle of oxidized white wine, crusty bread, and potatoes.
This cheese has a very limited availability. (Last year, it wasn’t available at all!). Get it while you can, or spend 2016 in a cheesy shroud of regret.
Frankly, a fantastic cheese. Here at murray’s, we can’t get enough. Aged in the Fort Saint Antoine in Jura, this Comte is produced by one of 13 high altitude cooperatives (“Fruitiers”) approved by affineur Marcel Petite. This Comte is aged for 2 years, which is the longest the affineur will age any cheese. The enormous wheels of raw cows’ milk have a firm texture, leaving flavors that can range from dense, with hints of smoke and onions, to sweeter, with notes of chocolate and hazelnuts. A holiday cheese plate must, and major crowd-delighter.
How did Stilton become a Christmastime tradition? The most sky-high quality milk comes from cows grazing at the end of the summer, and Stilton is at its best after about three months of aging. Hence, the cream of the crop Stilton is ready just in time for the holidays! Plus, it’s fantastic after Christmas dinner, with some tawny port and shards of chocolate.
The term ”Royal Blue” must have come from the creation of Stilton. Invented by Elizabeth Scarbrow and first served in 1720 at the Bell Inn in Stilton, England fame was not far behind. Made with pasteurized cows’ milk, it is ripened 3-4 months under carefully controlled cool, humid conditions. These farmstead, rustic looking cylinders are made by Colston-Basset Dairy, for Neal’s Yard Dairy. What makes them unique is the use of traditional animal rennet, not to be found from any other Stilton maker. Each bite is exceptionally buttery in texture with a clean, mineral tang that you’ll never forget.
Vacherin Mont D’Or
Vacherin Mont D’Or inspired mania and devotion, and rightly so. A thermalized cow’s milk cheese wrapped in spruce to contain the woodsy liquid interior that, with one taste, commands spontaneous exuberance. It tastes like the holidays.
Extremely rare and highly seasonal, Vacherin Mont d’Or hails from Switzerland on the border of France near the mountain D’Or. Traditionally made with the winter milk of the same cows that produce Gruyere in the summer, this cheese is only available from October until April, making it all the more precious. The cheese must be made from cows munching on straw and fodder; once outside to graze at pasture, their milk is used for larger alpine cheeses. Swiss regulations also dictate the cheese must be produced at elevations of 2,297 feet or higher. Not a dictate, but we highly recommend you enjoy this delectable cheese with a bottle of Gewurtztraminer.
What’s Thanksgiving without cheese? Here are some of our favorite beauties, all crafted in the incredible country we call home. Pair this American bounty with apple butter, ripe pears and crunchy pecans for a pitch perfect autumnal platter.
Guaranteed to make your guests love you! In the St. Mark’s (Street, ethos) spirit, we’ve taken a beloved traditional cheese and given it an avante garde spin. This complex, unctuous cheese is fragile—we keep it safe in a little red terra cotta crock. So cute. Plus, the crock helps St. Mark’s double as a perfect, personal fondue. Top with some fig jam and walnuts—or be a purist and leave it as is—and pop the cheese in the oven, or toaster oven, for a few minutes. It will get oozy, melty and glorious. Scoop up the creamy goodness with crusty bread for the perfect fall/winter treat. Pair with Beaujolais, or a crisp ale, and some Village swagger.
A fantastic little cheese from the chevre pioneers at the Vermont Creamery. This one combines high-quality pasteurized goat’s milk (from the twenty family farms supported by the creamery) with cow’s milk & cream (from a local co-op). A slow, lactic set and a delicate, crinkly rind make for a rich, mouth-coating, earthy, and satisfying cheese.
Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
Twice a year, we hand select Cabot’s English-inspired clothbound cheddar aged by the Cellars at Jasper Hill. Our preferred flavor profile: a delicate balance of sharpness, slight nuttiness, and a caramelized, nearly candied sweetness. Produced from the pasteurized milk from a single herd of Holstein cows, our wheels hover in the 12-14 month range.
The talented cheesemaker Mike Gingrich makes this smooth, firm cheese from the raw milk of his 150-cow herd only during the summer months, when the cows can graze on the lush pastures and the cheese takes on a fruity, olive-y, addictive depth. Several months of aging intensify its flavors, especially the sweetness.
CaveMaster Reserve Greensward
Two years ago Murray’s and the Cellars at Jasper Hill embarked on a top secret mission to create an exclusive cheese for Eleven Madison Park’s Iconic New York menu.The result is a spectacular new pasteurized cow’s milk cheese…and Murray’s is the only place you can get it! Greensward will wow your guests. Promise. Perfect spoonable, silky texture. Perfect big, bacony flavor. Perfect notes of forest and resin from Greensward’s pretty spruce jacket.
After decades of award winning production, the newest owners of Rogue –David Gremmels and Cary Bryant–decided to take it up a notch. For a special edition of the company’s classic ‘Oregon Blue Vein’ they start with pastured, raw summer milk. A fruity nuance is added to the dense, vegetal, smoky blue after several months of aging by wrapping the wheels with local pear “eau de vie” soaked grape leaves from a neighboring vineyard. Due to the highly seasonal milk supply and remarkable demand, availability is limited.
Happy Halloween! It’s time for ghosts and goblins and other scary things. Cheese doesn’t have to be one of them, but it certainly can be. What better time than now for brainy rinds and sizable stink factor? There’s nothing to be afraid of. Promise.
Bonne Bouche: Bonne Bouche is the flagship of Vermont Creamery’s signature aged goat cheeses. Made with pasteurized goat’s milk, the curd is carefully hand-ladled into molds, lightly sprinkled with ash, and aged just long enough to develop a wrinkly, brain-like rind. Reminiscent of Loire Valley favorites like Selles Sur Cher, Bonne Bouche also pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc.Frighteningly good.
Murray’s CaveMaster Reserve Greensward: If giant, funky flavor and oozy goodness scare you, don’t read on. Creating a new cheese is hard work! After tons of experimentation, we’ve arrived at perfection. Perfect spoonable, silky texture. Perfect big, bacony flavor. Perfect notes of forest and resin from Greensward’s pretty spruce jacket. The perfect collaboration with Jasper Hill. For even more perfection, open a light Gamay, or bourbon, and dive into this beauty with pieces of crusty bread.
Époisses: Don’t be afraid of the stink! You may not know it, but Époisses is actually a French word meaning “completely worth the effort”—either that or “stinky but incredibly loveable” because the end result, a custardy bacon bomb, is oh-so-worth-it. One slurp of the intensely creamy paste of this French classic, and you’ll know why we go to such lengths to ensure that this unctuous pasteurized cow’s milk round, made in Burgundy, France, is so delightfully decadent. After near extinction in France during the World Wars, Époisses de Bourgogne was resurrected in the 1950s by our beloved M. Berthaut. After being carefully hand-ladled into forms and dry-salted, each wheel takes a turn in French cave. Tucked into a clever wooden box meant to ease transport to our fair shores, serving Époisses isn’t nearly as difficult as aging it—slice a crusty baguette and dunk away, adding a glass of Burgundian white for terroir-driven perfection.
Coupole: Another wrinkly beauty from Vermont Creamery. As it ages, the pristine, velvety edible rind softens the fresh chevre beneath to an unctuous creamline. The resulting two textures of its cross-section make for a stunning visual presentation; this is an ideal selection for a stand alone cheese or first position of a cheese plate. Pair with a dry, grassy white.
If you’re anything like us, you really (really! really!) care about food. But, your’e also too busy to spend gobs of time slaving over a hot lunchbox. Skip the same ol’ sandwiches and upgrade to these simple, nourishing, day-making delicacies.
Nina Planck wrote the book on Real Food. Literally. Nina is a farmer’s daughter, food writer and advocate for traditional food. (Oh, and did we mention she is the wonderful wife of Murray’s Big Cheese, Rob Kaufelt?) Plus, she lives what she writes–a life of real and wonderful food. Here’s what she’s packing in her three kids’ lunch boxes this fall:
Kids need protein. Nina and Rob’s kids eat Prosciutto di Parma, made in essentially the same way since the Romans: by massaging the hind legs of whey-fed hogs (leftover from the production of Parmigiano Reggiano) with salt, washing, then dry-aging the meat for 10-12 months, and sometimes even longer. The flavor is perfumy and sweet, beloved by kids and adults alike. We’re all about serving it for lunch with chunks of Pamigiano Reggiano, or pressed into panini. More of Nina’s protein-rich picks: boiled eggs and chef Amy’s egg salad, available at the Bleecker Street store.
Kids need fresh fruit and veggies. Plus all this calls for a little crunch, so they eat pickles. We love Crisp and Co. pickles, which are snappy, friendly and complex enough for kids and grown-ups. Founder Thomas Peter of Hockessin, DE, uses his background — a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, a former career as a cancer researcher and passion for molecular gastronomy — to create pickle perfection.
Welcome back to fall, a new school year, and lots of real and delicious food to fuel your full and amazing life…and your kids’ minds, bodies and tummies.