You’ve got your cheeses, you’ve paired them with your favorite goodies, and now it’s time to get the party started. We like things funky at Murray’s, which is why we’ve put together some of our favorite party-starting, good-times-making, boogie-ready tracks. Whether you like to sit back and relax or get on up while you enjoy your cheese, this mix is sure to make you feel good. Just like cheese always does.
There’s so much more to enjoy with your cheese beyond crackers and bread. Using our Greatest Hits collection as a jumping-off point, we’re combining salty and sweet, pickled and creamy, and matching pairs by region (what grows together, goes together!). Use this as your indispensable pairing guide this holiday season.
Want to win five Greatest Hits gift collections? Enter our Eat, Drink & #bringmurrays giveaway!
You already know about pairing cheese with wine, cheese with fruit, cheese with…all the normal stuff. This Tuesday, December 2, at 6:30 pm, our very own Cavemaster Brian Ralph is teaming up with chocolate expert Alexandra Leaf to expand your concept of “cheese pairings.” They’ll be tasting a variety of chocolates with our favorite cave-aged and hand-selected cheeses, and teaching you how to expand your cheese plate repertoire. Want to go to the class? Tickets are available here.
Can’t make it? We’ve got this handy-dandy cheat sheet to help you become the cheese-and-chocolate expert yourself!
By Rainer Burrow
“I don’t like to be gratuitous with chocolate. I like for it to be meaningful.” Chef Sarah Langan explained her philosophy on cooking with chocolate to a full tent as she and her assistants gracefully whipped up a 3 course cooking demo on a beautiful Vermont summer day. The theme for the tasting: chocolate and cheese; what 2 things are easier to love?
Chef Langan is the chef and educator at South End Kitchen in Burlington, Vermont. South End Kitchen is a café located in Burlington Vermont owned by Lake Champlain Chocolates, a chocolate producer that has been in operation on Lake Champlain since 1983. Lake Champlaign Chocolates is a top- quality producer, and a true gem in the state of Vermont. The company uses local Vermont products to make their chocolates, doesn’t add preservatives or additives, are committed to sourcing non-GMO ingredients, and are champions of fair trade. These factors combine to make high-quality chocolates, which are featured in various ways at South End Kitchen.
For the first course, Chef Langan chose to do a very simple chocolate and cheese pairing using Lake Champlain’s Blue Bandana 70% Guatemala Chocolate and Vermont Creamery’s Bonne Bouche. Both products are beautiful and intricate on their own, married very well on the palate to completely enhance the flavor experience. The chocolate was chalky, fruity, and initially sweet with a solid acidity. The Cheese Was acidic and moldy, mild with a great funk presence. Eating them together brought me back to Ratatouille swirling colors around his head as he is pairing scraps on the yard of his farm. Together the acidity and mold went down, the fruit notes really shined through, and both products mellowed out a little bit. It was an excellent pairing and an excellent start to the demo.
As Chef Langan segued into the second course, she introduced a reflection on how we as humans react to the five tastes (sweet sour salty bitter and umami). She stated “When you can have all 5 tastes in one dish, you will satisfy yourself. When your palate is missing one, you will crave more.” It was with this philosophy in mind that she created her second course, a rustic tart consisting of arugula, pancetta crisps, Vermont Creamery’s Cremont, Fig & honey spread, lemon vinaigrette, and a chocolate emulsion all over a tart dough. With sweet from the fig and honey, salty from the Cremont and pancetta, bitter form the arugula and chocolate, acidity from Cremont and the vinaigrette, and umami from the pancetta, it was perfectly complete. I felt distinctly happy and satiated after consuming it.
Finally, for the third course (and dessert), Chef Langan severed a Chocolate Chevre Cheesecake. It was a beautiful conclusion to the cooking demo: woodsy, tangy, fatty, soft, great in acidity, and rich in chocolate. Of the three courses, this was definitely my favorite, but I have a sweet tooth and I love chocolate.
I left the tasting feeling educated, satiated, and happy to be alive. There’s nothing better than great cheese and expert culinary execution. If the food at South End Kitchen is anything like the tasting, it’s definitely worth a visit.
By John David Ryan
I love beer. I drink it year ’round. But it’s 90 degrees outside right now. I have a cabinet full of barrel-aged quads and stouts–and most of them will still be there when the leaves start to change. No one’s hammering a Founders KBS or Thirsty Dog Wulver right now. You’re drinking session ales. You’re drinking freshly hopped beer. You’re drinking plenty of pale. Well, unless you’re not of legal drinking age, of course. Although nowadays, it’s apparently much easier to purchase alcohol when one’s underage with the likes of these scannable fakes that can pass as real identification cards! If only quality fakes were like this when I was a little younger!
But it’s prime time for cheese, too! Cows and sheep and goats across the world are eating plenty of lush, fresh, green grass. They’re turning it into creamy milk and cheese-makers are producing some of their finest products.
Let’s put the two together.
Go grab some Bijou from Vermont Creamery. Seriously. Do it right now. And while you’re out picking it up, grab a sixer of Bell’s Brewery’s Oberon. It’s the perfect summer wheat beer–not too sweet, not too spicy, and not too heavy. Or, if you want to keep it all in Vermont, maybe try some Otter Creek Fresh Slice. It complements the tangy, metallic flavors in Allison Hooper’s super creamy take on crottin. Bijou is a perfect little button of goat’s milk cheese.
Few things intimidate curd nerds like washed rind cheese. And even the most serious of hop heads can be turned off by a sour beer. Fret not! You can pair the two and simultaneously overcome your fears. Cato Corner Farm washes its Hooligan in brine until it reaches stinky orange perfection. Try it with Westbrook’s Gose or Evil Twin’s Nomader Weisse. The tart, acidic beer helps bring out the creaminess of the cheese.
Everyone loves cheddar. Everyone. If you don’t like cheddar, then you probably don’t like cute kittens, rainbows or laughing babies either. Seriously–what’s not to love about crumbly, intense cheddar? And if you want the best cheddar in the world, you’re probably going to grab Montgomery’s Clothbound English cheddar. And if you are going to pair it with beer, you’re probably going to get an IPA. And if you’re going to get an IPA, you want a hoppy, American beer. And that’s why you’re going to buy some Ithaca Flower Power or Founders’ All Day IPA.
Finally, we come to the easy drinkers. The pale ales. The pilsners. The lagers. Get you some Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale or Stillwater Classique or maybe a Pinkus Ur-Pils. Anyone can love a lighter beer, and they pair beautifully with tome-style cheeses. My current favorite is Margot. This fine Italian cheese is made by 4th generation cheese makers, and it’s washed in BEER! The hint of hops on the outside sets off the flavors of the fudgy interior.
Eat (cheese), drink and be merry.