I Fell In Love With Goat Cheese at Prairie Fruits Farm

… and now you can, too!

By Deena Siegelbaum

 

The goats that stole my hear (Prairie Fruits Farm)

 

I came to work at Murray’s Cheese because of my love for slow food – and my work at Slow Food.  For many years I worked for the sustainable food-loving organization, thrilled at every chance to meet food producers along the way — cheesemakers being no exception.  A few years ago, while on a US tour with the organization’s founder Carlo Petrini, I fell in love with goats (and goat cheese) during a visit to Prairie Fruits Farm, the first farmstead cheesemakers in Illinois — whose cheese you’ll now find on our NYC and online cheese counters.

The Petrini entourage drove down to Central Illinois from Chicago on a warm May day.  Having been on the road hosted in restaurants and lecture halls for days, a farm day was a welcome stop, and we were about to be hosted by farmers who had been making and selling cheese for less than 2 years.  We arrived to meet Leslie Cooperband and Wes Jarrell and their kids – I mean their goats – who were joyfully running and playing on the lawn safely inside of a little fence.  Named for the fruits on the property, Prairie Fruits grows apples, peaches, pears and berries in addition to cranking out farmstead cheeses using milk from their goats, and also sheep’s milk from a neighboring farm.

What I remember from that day four years ago: tasting the most exceptional, sweet and creamy chevre; cuddling with goats; touring their small, well-run cheesemaking house; and savoring a farm-fresh meal with the inspired cheesemakers.  Leslie and Wes left academia to make cheese and to help build a vibrant food community in Central IL — they were welcoming, knowledgeable, and had the cutest kids on the planet.

A gooey piece of Angel Food

Flash forward a few years, and Leslie and Wes have continued expanding their operation.  Their cheese is available in fairly limited quantities, so we’ll be selling a variety as we’re able to get ‘em.  The two all-goat, gooey bloomy rinds are Angel Food and Little Bloom on the Prairie.  Angel Food is 3 weeks old with a thin, edible white rind – it’s a ladled curd cheese.  A bit stronger, Little Bloom is a cut curd that has ripened for four weeks.  Turning to sheep, we’ve got Ewe Bloom, a Camembert-style square cheese that’s pleasantly pungent.  Black Sheep is ash-covered and soft-ripened, reminded us of Selles-sur-Cher.  Not surprisingly, Prairie Fruits picks are really enjoyable with fresh or dried fruit.  Perfect for your summer picnic of a fun way to end your next BBQ!

Murray’s Cheese currently has select Prairie Fruits cheese in limited quantities in our New York City stores and online. Not all styles are available at all times, so check back soon or give us a call if you don’t find what you’re looking for.

What’s in a Name? Pawlet from Consider Bardwell

By Robert S

 

 

Photo from Consider Bardwell Farm

Rupert isn’t the only cheese from Consider Bardwell that’s creating buzz around Murray’s.  The recent arrival of Pawlet has our mongers going crazy!  Named for its hometown in Vermont, Pawlet is a raw Jersey cow’s milk treasure, one of a handful of cheeses made at the farm.  Originally founded in 1864 by Consider Stebbins Bardwell, it was the first cheesemaking co-op in the state.  Little more than ten years ago, new owners Russell Glover and Angela Miller began to revitalize the traditional farm, spanning 300 acres from Vermont’s Champlain Valley all the way to Washington County, New York.  With 100 Oberhasli goats, and using cow’s milk from a neighbor’s herd, their handmade cheeses are all named after local towns and mountains.

So what’s got us so jazzed about Pawlet? Quite simply, I think it’s a perfect cheese to eat right now because it works well for all of my summer eating:  sandwiches, snacking and BBQing.  This 4th of July I’m going to shred it over grilled local vegetables from my farmers market.  I’ve already paired it with a red ale while snacking, and I know it’ll be amazing with any crisp wine – try a robust Sauvignon Blanc.  Creamy, nutty and rich, you’re going to love how Pawlet melts – either over a burger or on a grilled cheese.  It’s as versatile as the town of Pawlet itself, which the cheesemakers tell us is home to syrup, timber and slate!

NEW CHEESE ON THE BLOCK: RUPERT!

by Sydney Willcox, head monger at Murray’s Cheese West Village

Everyone is talking about Rupert! Rupert has just arrived at our shop and is causing a lot of excitement behind the counter.  Rupert is a raw Jersey cow’s milk cheese from Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, VT and is named after Rupert, Vermont, one of the state’s oldest towns.  The aged cheese is formatted in large wheels, around 25 pounds, which sport a super cute whale carved into the top.  It’s an alpine style cheese, meaning it’s based on the big guys coming from the Alpine mountains of France and Switzerland like Comte, Gruyere, or Beaufort.  This also means you’ll find the same kind of firm but easy-to-melt texture and similar sharp and nutty flavors in Rupert as you do in those classic cheeses.  I find an added level of complexity in this cheese- sometimes I can taste strong berry notes, other times I taste buttered toast.  Despite the range of flavors this guy tends to be loved by all – nuanced enough for the connoisseur, but never too overwhelming for the more timid cheese lover.   The American Cheese Society agrees – they awarded Rupert 3rd place in the 2009 Best In Show category!

As for the best way to enjoy this award-winning cheese, let me count the ways… Rupert is an outstanding snacking cheese, delicious all on its own, but for those looking to take it to the NEXT LEVEL I have more than a few recommendations.  Alpine style cheeses make perfect melters; one of my favorite ways to eat Rupert is on a classic grilled cheese.  I find the cheese stands out perfectly on its own, sandwiched between two golden brown and completely buttered pieces of sourdough.  If you want to get a little wild go ahead and throw on some bacon or Surryano ham – the smokiness perfectly complements the apricot-like sweetness and cuts through the heavy mouthfeel from the fat.  When I’m trying to go for a lighter route I use grilled vegetables as my vehicle instead of bread- rupert is perfect for grating over charred asparagus and zucchini: it adds a touch of saltiness and a nice gooey layer over the crispy veggies.  If it’s too hot to think about melted cheese, slather on some sweet fruit paste, like membrillo or a tangy plum mostarda.

Rupert’s stand-alone tastiness and versatility makes it one of the best new additions to our cheese case, hands down. Inspired by well-known cheeses, it seems comfortingly familiar, but there’s also something refreshing and unexpected about it – just the sort of thing people look for when they come to Murray’s. It’s the kind of cheese that’s just different and exciting enough to bring out enthusiasm from those who never knew they were cheese lovers.  What are you waiting for? Give it a try!

New Cheese! Bossa from Green Dirt Farm

By James Fairbrother

James is a summer intern at Murray’s who’ll be regularly entertaining you with cheesy tidbits all summer long. When he’s not tasting new cheeses, he is getting ready for his senior year at Cornell, where he is studying Food Science and Italian.

Having just started working at Murray’s, I couldn’t believe that on my first day I already had the chance to taste one of our newest cheeses. What was even more exciting was finding out that this particular cheese, Bossa, happens to be a rare all-sheep’s milk cheese produced within the United States at the women-owned Green Dirt Farm in Weston, Missouri. The farm prides itself on its sustainable and humane practices, allowing the sheep to roam and pasture freely in the hilly area above the Missouri River Valley, and has earned the distinction as an Animal Welfare Approved organization. This pasteurized cheese is produced in limited quantities, and we are ecstatic to be the first to introduce it to New York City.

I took a small piece home with me on Wednesday, eager to taste my first cheese from Murray’s. Unwrapping the piece of the small wheel I had procured, the first aspect that struck me was the vibrant orange color that results from the brine-washed rind during the 6-week aging process. The inside is milky-white and slightly springy, but still soft, with a funky aroma to match its taste. Cutting a small piece to finally taste it, I immediately noticed the creamy texture. The mouth feel was incredibly smooth, covering the entire palate, and so rich that I don’t think it would have been possible to eat the entire sample. Good thing I have a family that loves cheese. Bossa is funky, strong, and a little bit nutty, with a slightly smoky aftertaste.

I thought it would go well with a firm, sweet fruit, so I cut up an apple and tasted the Bossa again on top of a thin slice. If you manage to get your hands on a wheel or two, serve it this way. The light fruity flavor perfectly contrasted with the cream of the cheese, and would certainly allow you to eat even more of it! The two friends I was with loved it (and my new job, considering how much they’re going to be fed). It could be compared to Tomme du Berger, which means it would pair well with a slightly sweeter wine, such as an off-dry Reisling. Bossa is proof that happy sheep means better cheese, and a happy cheese eater.

Murray’s Cheese currently has Bossa in limited quantities in our New York City stores, check back soon to find it online.