YOUR GUIDE TO DATE NIGHT

It’s no secret that the way to someone’s heart is through their tummy. And if you’re with a true gourmand, a Valentine’s cheese gift or something special for a date night together is an absolute must. Spoil your sweetheart with creamy cheeses, luxurious truffles, or sweet snacks. We’re highlighting some of the best picks below to help you achieve #relationshipgoals.

A LOVE FORAY INTO CHEESE

If cheese is your love language, then show off your fluency with choices that are certainly better than a box of grocery store chocolate. Whether it’s artisanal cheese gifts for Valentine’s Day or something for tender moments together, these melt-in-your mouth selections are definite winners.

Bloomy Rinds with a Twist: Skipping straight to dessert? We’re talking about cheese here. And we’ve got a couple that hits all the right notes. If you (or your special someone) craves chocolate and cheese in one bite, Murray’s Cave-Aged Limited Triple Crème de Cocoa is a must-try. Four Fat Fowl’s sweet and creamy St. Stephen features a morsel of luxurious chocolate right in the middle. Another Valentine’s cheese that is the epitome of love is the heart-shaped Old Chatham Creamery Cupid’s Choice. Buttery and earthy, this is a cheese that can’t be missed.

Dishin’ it Out: One cannot feast on cheese alone. (Okay, maybe one can.) But sometimes cheese is better in an irresistible dish. Like mac and cheese. When it comes to this meal, the more decadent, the better. That’s why we’re all about Murray’s Lobster Mac and Cheese. Chunks of lobster meat and lobster bisque are packed into our ooey, gooey secret cheese blend and then frozen. We do the work so all you have to do is heat it up and enjoy a romantic Valentine’s mac and cheese for two.

CURATED COLLECTIONS FOR YOUR CRUSH

Imagine a candlelight dinner, a bottle of bubbly, and a little tasting to top it all off. Our artisan-crafted cheese collections and samplers have a huge variety that can satisfy any palate. Here’s a couple of suggestions created for an evening of romance.

Valentine’s Day Collection: A heart-shaped cheese from Old Chatham Creamery may be the most romantic cheese move one could pull. But this collection has so much more! Cherry chocolate, cocoa-dusted almonds, biscuits, and of course, more cheese. Sure, it’s called Valentine’s Day collection but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge during any other day of the year.

Valentine’s Day Sampler: Maybe you’re an all-cheese kind of couple. Skip the snacks and build your own Valentine’s Day cheese board for two with some of our top picks. Highly snackable cheddar, gouda, and a few more cheese surprises await with this selection. Add some fresh fruit and crunchy crackers to create an evening of decadent pleasure.

FRESH TRUFFLES FOR ROMANTIC RECIPES

Woo your beloved with a home-cooked meal (and recipes from Great Taste by Murray’s). Seal the deal with extra flavor that takes your dish over the top. We’re especially partial to truffles from Trufflin’. Your sweetheart will feel like they’re being whisked away on a flavorful adventure.

Trufflin’ Black Winter Truffles: Earthy, umami, decadent. There’s no shortage of words to describe the depth of flavor behind these little black nuggets, aka “Perigord truffles.” Plucked from the Provence region of France, they’re only in season from December through March so now’s the time to get them at their best. Some say these are the most versatile of all truffles and we’d agree. Add them to a sauce you’re cooking or enjoy them raw and shave some on top of eggs, pasta, or whatever else pleases you to heighten the flavor.

Trufflin’ White Truffles: Garlicky and musky in aroma, it’s hard to resist inhaling it all in. While the scent is strong and intoxicating, the taste is definitely more delicate (and delightful). The white truffle, formally known as Tuber Magnatum Pico, hails from the Alba area of Italy and also has a very short growing season. This rare and much-coveted gem is best served in paper-thin slices or grated since they’re too delicate for cooking. Try them with an Italian dish such as risotto or pasta.

LITTLE SWEET NOTHINGS THAT ARE EVERYTHING

Tried and true chocolates and cookies are always a welcome gift for Valentine’s Day or a special occasion (hello, birthday idea!). Go one step above with delicious treats that are thoughtfully made. These top picks will make you (and your sweetheart) yearn for more.

Rich Chocolates:

Brighten your beloved’s day with something more traditional. Chocolates make an extraordinary Valentine’s Day gift (and a perfect accessory to a cheese board). Scatter pieces of one of Zotter Chocolates bars onto a board. Filled with flavors such as scotch whiskey or tiramisu, these are a decadent choice for bites that are far from simple. Even more traditional are the selections from Mayana Chocolates. You can’t go wrong whether you choose these sustainably-sourced truffles or salted caramel hearts.

Craveable Cookies:

Anyone fond of a little crunch will adore these baked treats. Try some festive shortbread bites like Rustic Bakery Mini Mixed Hearts. Handmade in small batches with organic ingredients, this mix of chocolate and vanilla hearts will make your special someone swoon. Cookies and cream more of their thing? Callie’s Biscuits Cocoa & Cream Cookies are life-changing (or so we hear). Reminiscent of a favorite childhood cookie, a fluffy sweet cream center is enveloped by two dark chocolate cookies. Pair with a sweet, creamy cheese for total decadence.

Looking for even more inspo and cheese gifts? Our Valentine’s Day page is full of great giftables, perfect for your beau or belle.

Virtual Cheese Classes

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
  • Brebirousse d’Argental
  • Taleggio
  • Murray’s Aged English Cheddar
  • Two Sisters Isabella Aged Gouda
  • Murray’s Stilton

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!

Cave Exclusive: 18 Month Annelies

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.  

Top 10 Cheeses of 2021

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!

1. Vacherin Mont D’Or

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.

2. Moliterno Al Tartufo

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!

3. Roomano Extra Aged Gouda

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!

4. Epoisses

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.

5. Rogue River Blue

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.

6. Murray’s Cave Aged Reserve Greensward

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.

7. 18-Month Aged Comte

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.

8. French Raclette

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.

9. Murray’s Buffalo Mozzarella

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.

10. Humboldt Fog

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.

A Conversation with Moonshot

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!

Julia Collins, founder of Moonshot Snacks

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!