Thanksgiving Cheese Board On A Dime

Quality cheese with a story to tell doesn’t have to break the bank.

Few holidays are as food-focused as Thanksgiving, and that’s one reason we love it. Another reason we wait excitedly the whole year for T-Day is that it’s all about hitting pause, taking stock, and sharing gratitude. Sure, we love Turkey and pumpkin pie as much as the next guy, but it’s the time spent with family and friends—cooking, talking, and taking stock of our lives—that makes this meal a once-in-a-year experience. Without the ritual and meaning of Thanksgiving, it’s really just a huge dinner, right?

The same is true with cheese. Recently it was suggested that the only way to avoid dropping major coin on a platter is to blindly pluck a wedge of Camembert from a supermarket cold case, bake it for a few minutes, and then plop it on a plate beside some grapes and olives. We’re certainly not knocking those pairings—and who doesn’t love warm, gooey cheese? But there’s so much more you can do without breaking the bank. And just like a holiday meal tastes better because of the history behind it, a cheese tastes better when you know its story.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a delicious cheese board that’s easy on wallet without skimping on quality, flavor, or intrigue. Now, this is just one way to do it; your options know no limits, and we’re always here to help you navigate that bounty. We will say that there’s one primary rule of thumb, and it’s a good one: the name of the game is variety. What you want is a range of flavors and textures, meant to entice and delight the senses. We happen to think this is a pretty solid guide for food in general. Imagine your Thanksgiving dinner plate: you’re probably not eating turkey with a side of roast chicken, or mashed potatoes with a fistful of french fries (though if that’s your jam, don’t let us get in the way.) Same goes for a cheese board—a good one will demonstrate cheese in its wonderfully wide-ranging glory.

And so, without further ado: a selection of beautiful cheeses that will contribute to the edible (and otherwise) bounty of your Thanksgiving table, without burning a hole in your wallet.

Camembert Fermier

At Murray’s, we like to work in order from mild to wild, so let’s start with this here Camembert. We have nothing but love for this Frenchie, and it’s been in the game for quite some time. In 1797, a woman named Marie Harel was living in the village of Camembert when, according to legend, a priest from Brie gave her the recipe for his region’s famed fromage. She took it, made it her own, and Camembert cheese was born. If Brie is the popular kid at school, Camembert is its younger sibling with artsy tendencies and more personality. Both are pudgy and gooey under their tender, downy rinds. Where Brie can be decidedly mild, Camembert is a bit more pungent, with a buttery, toasty, ever so lactic quality that guests often find themselves coming back to again and again. It’s sturdy enough for baking, if you so desire, but it’s just as much of a crowd-pleaser when you let the cheese stand alone. ($10.99/8 oz. wheel)

Young Manchego

What you might notice first about Manchego is that lovely criss-crossy pattern on the rind. This is a nod to tradition—for centuries, the cheese was formed in baskets made of esparto grass, which would imprint a woven pattern onto the outside of the cheese, then forming into the rind. It is every bit an essential characteristic of this sheep’s cheese as its semi-firm texture and nutty flavor, which provide complementary contrast to your smooshier, creamier Camembert. ($8.99/8 oz.)


And now for some wildin’. Like with many cheeses named for their place of production, Stilton must be made according to a strict set of rules. Among those rules: the cheese must be unpressed, cylindrical in shape, and feature a naturally formed rind. Oh, also, it has to, well, taste like a Stilton. Which is to say: thick and fudgy, with a velvety crumble and a mineral tang. A proper Stilton like this one will sport an ivory-colored paste and a network of blue-green veining that imparts a piquant yet sweet pepperiness. It’s a textbook example of a punch-packing party cheese—big and bold while still being easy to enjoy. ($11.50/8 oz.)


Now that you’ve got your cheese selection covered, let’s talk about dressing your plate. Maybe you’re a chutney person, or perhaps you’re partial to roasted nuts. It’s all a matter of preference. One sure thing is that it’s always a good idea to have a vessel for the cheese. Around here, we are particularly fond of Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps, which have a seed-studded whole grain flavor that works with all three of the above cheeses. For a sweet, fruity counterpoint, membrillo is always a fave. It’s dense and chewy and a little sticky, but it has the rich, deep flavor of cooked quince with a light tang from a touch of lemon juice. Lay some on a cracker, top it with cheese, and you’ve got a flavor combo that’ll win any party. (Jan’s: $9.99; Membrillo: $7.99)

So there you have it, a whopping cheese plate that’ll keep costs in check while sparing no expense in the flavor department. As we said, this is just one of any number of combos. If you decide to create your own, here’s what we suggest: go visit your local cheesemonger. Think of him or her as your personal tour guide. In the same way you get more out of a trip to a museum or an historic landmark when you have an expert by your side, you’ll get a lot more out of your time in the Land of Cheese when you have someone walking you through the context of what you are encountering. This is one of the many reasons we’re so excited to have Murray’s counters across the country. Even if you would’ve grabbed the same cheeses on your own, your guests will enjoy them all the more when you include them in the ritual and heritage behind what they are eating. That, after all, is the spirit of a holiday meal.

Happy Thanksgiving, Cheesers!

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.


And the award for Most Valuable Platter goes to…

You did it – gifts have been bought, parties thrown, and everything is in place for a happy holiday. (And if not, don’t worry, there’s still time to order from Murray’s!) Really, we think you’re the MVP of this year. So maybe you want to ring in the New Year in a luxurious way befitting your new title. Or maybe you want to share the wealth. Either way, we’ve got you covered with our Most Valuable Platter

There’s nothing like a feast, and this gift definitely falls under that category. This is a one-stop shop for hosting – enough cheese to feed 8 to 10 of your most valued guests, as well as extra-delicious accompaniments to pair. Bringing this platter to your next party will definitely make you the MVP of the event.

And there’s something for everyone, whether it be a hearty, nutty aged Gruyere or a crunchy, earthy Clothbound Cheddar. To tame the wildest of appetites, the creamy Grazier’s Edge and bold Point Reyes’ Bay Blue provide tangy, meaty punches to please those who love a little sharpness in their lives. Uniquely goaty, the Humboldt Fog brings a ray of California sunshine to the whole affair, rounding out the award-winning cheese on this platter.

We add in some thin, buttery ribbons of Prosciutto San Daniele and Creminelli Wild Boar Salami to delight the carnivores in your midst, perfectly balancing between silky, nutty meat and porky, robust salami. Some top notch sides come into play – fruity Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps and crunchy Urban Oven Crackers are perfect for topping the crumbly cheddars and spreadable chevres and blues that need a little TLC. Finish off the collection with super addictive, plump Castelvetrano Olives. With that, you’ve won the party. Pat yourself on the back, crack open a beer, and enjoy that MVP status.