Make Whey For… Stichelton!

The holidays are about bringing people together. We love to gather around with our friends and family, enjoying each other’s company. Of course, adding good food into the mix is always an added bonus. This year, we are taking a leaf out of the Brit’s book and breaking out our favorite Stilton and a bit of port. But, of course, it wouldn’t be Murray’s if we didn’t put a little twist on it – it’s time to meet Stichelton

Stilton’s greatest competition, Stichelton is the raw milk recipe of England’s most well-known blue cheese. Each wheel is made by hand, and is a spicy-sweet homage to its older brother. In fact, Stichelton is what Stilton once was – it uses Stilton’s original, raw-milk recipe, which was switched over to the pasteurized version in 1996t. Stichelton, because of its raw milk, could not be called ‘Stilton’ because of the protected designation of origin or PDO, which specified what cheeses could or couldn’t be called Stilton. But Stichelton, because of its raw milk, has a piquancy that the normal Stilton simply cannot rival. Whether it is the soft creaminess that coats the palate, or the lingering caramel sweetness that hides beneath the bite of blue, Stichelton will blow the Stilton you know out of the water.

So why Stichelton and Port? In yesteryear, this was a classic dish enjoyed during the holidays – to serve a wheel (or sometimes half a wheel) of Stilton infused with port wine. This dessert wine has always paired best with Stilton and other tangy blue cheeses, but it’s taken to a whole new level with Stichelton. It is truly a way to bring people together and will be talked about for years to come.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Pick up a wheel of Stichelton – or half a wheel, depending on how many people you’re planning on hosting. If you go for the full wheel, you’re going to have to remove the top (try and keep it as flat as possible, so you don’t have an uneven surface).
  2. Start scooping around the edge of the cheese with a spoon, creating a sort of moat with the edge of the rind and the center of the cheese remaining. Stick that cheese you scooped out to the side – you can nibble on it as you go.
  3. Through the middle of the wheel, prick the cheese from top to bottom with a thick skewer, creating a hole where you can start pouring that Port into. Put several more holes through the moat you’ve scooped.
  4. Now, grab a funnel, because it’s time to pour that Port! Pour slowly, letting the liquid flow into and irrigate the blue cheese veins.
  5. When the holes have all been filled, and if you kept the top of your cheese flat, you can pour the Port directly on top too. Fair warning: since the cheese is a bit porous, the port will start seeping out eventually – all you have to do is make sure that you serve this bad boy in a deep bowl, then wrap it in plastic wrap until it’s ready to serve. Depending on how strong you want that port to soak, you can do it anywhere from a few hours before, or two weeks before you serve that wheel.

When it’s time to roll out the Stichelton, serving it with pears and walnuts is the tradition. But feel free to try something new and exciting – maybe spread the Port-Stichelton over one of Jan’s Farmhouse Cranberry & Pistachio Crisps. Want a little bit of extra sweetness? Top each bite with a dab of Black Cherry Confit. Let everyone dig into the wheel with their own spoons, serving as they like. It’ll be both a delicious centerpiece and quite the talking point for the holidays.

 

‘Tis the Season for these One-of-a-Kind Holiday Cheeses

rush creekTwinkly 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. 

comteap32 Year Comte

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.

stiltonColston Bassett Stilton 

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

vacherinVacherin 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.

Cheese, Beer, and the Super Bowl: Murray’s Guide to Doing it Right

beer!

By John David Ryan, Field Merchandiser and Beer Connoisseur Extraordinaire 

It’s that time of year: Super Bowl season! We’re all talking about things like: what are Russell Wilson’s chances of leading his team to a repeat victory? What will we serve for game day snacks? Who will have the best commercials? Will the halftime show be as terrible as it always is? And what kind of Uggs will Tom Brady be wearing at the post-game press conference? These are important details—I must know!

 Cheddar & IPA

If you’re like the rest of the cool kids, then you probably drink IPAs and talk about how much you appreciate a fresh, hoppy beer with intense notes of citrus and pine. But seriously: it’s hard to beat a well-made India Pale Ale. Known for starting the American craft beer craze, these West Coast originals aren’t necessarily a beginner-friendly beer, but are probably the most widely enjoyed ale. And they’re made for pairing. Try one with a clothbound cheddar. The crumbly, acidic cheese holds its own against the bitter beer.

Beer suggestions: Ithaca Flower Power, Ballast Point Sculpin, Dogfish Head 60 Minute

Gouda & Stout

Gouda is that fun friend who we all want to show up to our party because they make it so much better. Plus, Gouda comes lots of different ways: creamy, smoked, aged, with caraway seeds, etc. I prefer an aged gouda. It’s full of crystals! Delicious, crunchy tyrosine crystals (that’s an amino acid), which typically form within cheeses that have been aged over a year. It’ll be drier, with hints of caramel, salt and butterscotch. For that reason, you need some sweetness to balance it out. Go with a big stout—something with a lot of roasty, chocolate flavors. (Don’t be afraid to add some honey to the equation if you like it really sweet.) Think of it as a boozy chocolate sea salt caramel truffle—your party guests will be amazed.

 Beer Suggestions: Alesmith Speedway, North Coast Old Rasputin, Evil Twin I Love You With My Stout

Brie & Belgian Pale Ale

It’s hard not to love a double or triple crème brie. The decadent, buttery paste just melts in your mouth. But you need something with bubbles to help cleanse your palate of all of that goodness. Traditionally, you’d pop open a bottle of champagne—but who brings Moet & Chandon to a football party? Grab a Belgian pale or golden ale—something with a cork and cage on top like champagne. It lets you know that it’s been bottle fermented and will give you lots of bubbles, which is exactly what you want with a creamy cheese like this.

Beer Suggestions: Brooklyn Local 1, Ommegang BPA, Brassiere d’Achouffe La Chouffe

Blue & Barleywine

Blue cheese can be intimidating. Heck: its got blue mold throughout the paste. But it becomes a magical food when you properly pair it. For starters, get a younger, creamier blue like Cambozola Black Label or Chiriboga or even Stilton. Then crack open a barleywine—a big ale with a ton of malty sweetness. You’ll taste toffee, dark fruits, molasses and caramel—but watch out! Because of the amount of grain used in making a barleywine, they’re typically higher in alcohol. So if Uncle Larry has a foul mouth and gets loud after a few brews, maybe steer him away from this one.

Beer Suggestions: Central Waters Kosmyk Charlie’s Y2K, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Stone Old Guardian

Alpine & Brown

When I think of paradise, it often involves a herd of cows with bells on their necks, lush pastures, snow-capped mountains, and a smelly shepherd with one of those long, curved sticks…or a beach in the Caribbean. I mean, they’ve got fruity drinks with umbrellas there, but they don’t have Alpine cheeses. Most Alpines are still made by traditional methods and are regulated to insure they are of the highest quality. But when I want a fantastic nutty Alpine cheese, I dream of Comte. I reach for Gruyere. I covet a pound of Appenzeller…and something to wash it down with it. For that, you’ll need a brown ale. Just like Alpine cheeses, brown ales are slightly sweet, nutty, and thoroughly enjoyable by everyone. They are an easy pairing that everyone at your party will love. Then too, if you have leftovers, you can always whip up some fondue!

 Beer Suggestions: Anchor Brekle’s Brown, Bells Best Brown, Smuttynose Old Brown Dog

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