‘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.

Fondue! We DO! Stay Warm & Satisfied with the Perfect Winter Comfort Food

gooeyfondueWhat’s better than cheese? Trick question…nothing! But a big bowl of melty cheese (read: fondue) for dipping your heart out ranks really high up there for the best inventions of humankind. The days are getting shorter, and colder, and darker. Fondue to the the stomach and soul-warming rescue!

A quick fondue history lesson: The Swiss have been enjoying this goodness for a very long time. Homer’s Iliad–dated from about 800 to 725 BC–even mentions chowing down on a glorious mixture of goat’s cheese, wine and flour. Sounds like fondue to me! The custom makes a lot of sense. The Swiss have a storied cheese tradition–and cheese odds and ends could easily be warmed up in a big pot atop a fire and savored during frosty Swiss winters.

In 1930, the Swiss Cheese Union appointed fondue the country’s national dish – and the world has been gaga over it ever since. Here’s a can’t-fail recipe for classic fondue…but experiment away! Fondue is a perfect blank canvas for playing around. Alpine cheeses are classic choices and stellar melters, so they’re a great place to start. (Think nutty, savory Appenzeller, pictured below). Go ahead, add some kick with a little of blue, perhaps some creamy gorgonzola. Or introduce a funky note with Spring Brook Farm Reading.

swiss_and_nutty_appenzeller_1Murray’s Classic Fondue 

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove
150 g (approx. 3/4cup) white wine
4 oz (approx. 1 cup) Gruyère, grated
4 oz (approx. 1 cup) Comté, grated
3 oz Emmental, grated
1 tablespoon + 1 tsp cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:
1.Sprinkle one teaspoon of salt in the bottom of a small saucepan.
2.Cut garlic clove in half and rub the inside of the pan, starting at the salt.
3.Heat the wine on medium-high just until boiling. While the wine is heating, combine the cheeses and toss with cornstarch until evenly distributed.
4.Gradually add the cheese a half a cup at a time, whisking constantly until melted and smooth.
5.Add lemon juice and whisk until incorporated.

The Great Dipping Debate

Dipping…so fun! Here are some of our favorite fondue vehicle. What’s yours?

  1. Cubes of your favorite bread
  2. Crackers! Raincoast Crisps do the trick brilliantly.
  3. Croutons
  4. Apples and pears!
  5. Veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, fennel spears, and baby carrots
  6. Pickles and pickled veggies, like Rick’s Pick’s dilly Mean Beans
  7. Fingerling potatoes
  8. Salumi and cured meat. Yes to chunks of chorizo!

Happy Thanksgiving! All-American Cheeses for your Holiday Table

american artisansWe’re grateful to live in the land of the free and the home of much awesome cheese. We hope you’re gearing up and settling in for a holiday full of good friends, family, and feasting.

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.

st mark'sSt Mark’s (Our brand new Murray’s exclusive cheese!) 

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.

Cremont

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.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve pleasant ridge

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.

rogue riverRogue Rover Blue

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 Thanksgiving from the Murray’s Family: Chef Amy’s Pumpkin Cheesecake

Chef-Amy-StonionisThanksgiving is one of our favorite times of year. What a perfect holiday for cooks and cheese lovers. The autumnal bounty! The no-holds-barred fall feasting! There is so much to be thankful for.

Perhaps you’ve already been mulling over the menu for weeks. There are pies to bake, potatoes to mash, turkeys to carve…and cheese plates to be assembled.

We’re busy sourcing and selling our favorite cheese, charcuterie, chocolate, jam and other good things, so that your holiday table can be a happy, tasty place. We’re also cooking and baking like crazy.

Do you know our awesome Executive Chef Amy Stonionis? You should. Amy grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania foraging, hunting, fishing, pickling, butchering and cooking her heart out. She’s lived in Brooklyn since 2007. When Amy is in the kitchen, you can rest assured you’re going to eat very, very well.

When Amy generously presented us with her light yet lusciously rich cheesecake,we gobbled it up in mere moments. It’s hard to control yourself when faced with this sweet, perfectly spiced goodness. Here’s the recipe. We hope you make it and share it. Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Amy’s Dreamy Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients:
(Filling)
5 cups diced pumpkin
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups plus 1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2½ lb cream cheese, softened
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream

(Crust)
1/4 lb (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups crushed graham crackers
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup light brown sugar

Directions:

  1. To make the filling, cube and toss the pumpkin with olive oil, 1 tbsp sugar and cinnamon and roast in a 350 degree oven until tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Combine cream cheese, the remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla and heavy cream in a stand mixer. Add roasted pumpkin and mix until pumpkin is fully integrated into the wet ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter with crushed graham crackers, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
  4. Pack crust in bottom of a springform pan and top with pumpkin filling.
  5. Bake at 275 degrees for 90 minutes.