The Story of Torus, Our Newest Cavemaster Reserve Cheese

by Adeline Druart, Master Cheesemaker & Operations Manager at Vermont Butter & Cheese Company

 

At Vermont Creamery we are known for making the best fresh and aged goat cheese in the country. We’ve been in business since 1984, and have been working with Murray’s for almost that long – way back when Rob, Frankie and Cielo were all behind the counter at the tiny shop on the corner of Bleecker Street. Our creamery crème fraiche, butter, and fresh goat cheese became a staple at the store, as did our small geo-rinded cheeses (the brainy-looking cheeses that are made with Geotrichum candidum mold). Over the years we’ve shared cheese beyond the shop, too – teaching classes, visiting restaurants, even hosting a bus of cheeselovers on a trip to the Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival.

As Murray’s and Vermont Creamery continued to grow, what was left to do but create a brand new cheese, one that was made in Vermont and sent to age in the caves below Murray’s in New York City? Since we are known for our geo-rinded cheeses, it made sense to make an un-aged, or “green,” geo cheese for Murray’s to age – and that’s just what we did.

Vermont Creamery cheesemaker, Adeline Druart gathered the wish list from Murrays: Size? Small. Shape? Round. Ash? Nah. Creamy? YES. Yeasty-sweet-earthy-complex? Obviously. And yup, that signature brain-y Geotrichum rind, please. Our cheese expert friend from Australia, Will Studd put in his two cents and suggested we cut out the center, making a donut to create even more surface area for a yummy rind throughout. And with that brilliant idea, Torus was born.

Sounds easy enough? Not so. Adeline and the Murray’s cave master Brian Ralph worked for a year to perfect this little “donut.” Moisture and salt levels had to be just right. The milk had to be selected to accommodate the natural climate in the cave. The cave master had to “wake up” the dormant yeast and cheese cultures inside the carefully packaged and cooled cheeses to assure that the rind would grow properly in the cave. Luckily, with time we got it right. The result is a quintessential Geo goat cheese, with a flavor and texture unique to Murray’s and Vermont Creamery’s partnership.

What’s in a name?  Donuts make us think of Homer Price. And Homer Simpson. But we would like to think that making a good cheese requires more savoir faire. After lists of names by many, Murray’s buyer Aaron Foster came up with “Torus,” the geometric term for the ring shape of the cheese.  Indeed an artisanal replica of a geometric torus, we also think of Taurus the bull, an equally appropriate image for this cheese that required tenacity and drive to create such a satisfying reward. Vermont Creamery has spent years developing the Geotrichum category of goat cheese in America, both in perfecting the cheese and also in educating the market.  We are delighted to share the challenge with Murray’s who will serve their customers with a unique taste of Vermont and Manhattan terroir this holiday season.

Read more about Torus in the Wall Street Journal

FIVE FONDUE FACTS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW

Ah, fondue. Some people think of it as the flash-in-the-pot dinner party craze of the 60’s and 70’s, conjuring up thoughts of turtleneck sweaters and expensive gift fondue sets sitting unused for decades. But things are changing for the noble melted cheese dish! With quality cheese more easily accessible to Americans, fondue is experiencing resurgence in a big way and we think this time it’s here to stay. So take a moment to learn a little more about everyone’s favorite communal meal.

 1. Fondue is over 400 years old!

Written records of fondue date back to the late 17th century, when a bare bones version of the dish calling for cheese, wine and bread for dipping appeared in a Swiss cookbook. Fondue showed up in print in various other incarnations through the 18th and 19th centuries, the recipes calling for eggs and often construed as something closer to a custard or cheese soufflé than the hot dip that we know it as today. Towards the end of the 19th century recipes began to appear for an emulsified melted cheese concoction, and in the early 20th cornstarch was added to the bill to more easily stabilize the mixture. Variations on the theme and regional takes still abounded, the idea of fondue as a hot dish for communal dipping took form and became recognizable throughout Europe.

2. There’s more than one way to melt a bunch of cheese in a pot

As with most traditional dishes, there is no shortage of regional variations. The well-known Neuchateloise version calls for a balanced mix of Gruyere and Emmental; the Innerschweiz like a blend of Gruyere, Emmental and a spiking of bright Sprinz; the Appenzeller variety uses – you guessed it – Appenzeller cheese, lengthened with warm cream. Whatever the chosen blend, a great fondue is accompanied by cubed bread for dipping, as well as charcuterie and veggies. Can you cover it in cheese? Then ‘due it up. An assortment of pickled or brined treats to cleanse the palate between bites is also a great idea.

3. The Great Beverage Debate

If you want to know what to drink with fondue, there are two major camps: Black Tea vs White Wine. Some say black tea is better for your digestion. Some say white wine is in the fondue already, why not also have a glass with the meal?

We say: drink whatever you like – tea, wine, and even beer all make great accompaniments.

4. Fondue: Favored dish of flirts

Tradition states that if bread falls off a woman’s fork and into the pot she must kiss her neighbor. If a man drops anything into the pot he has to buy a round of drinks for the table.

We say: Anything goes!… Except double-dipping.

5. Actual fact: cheese brings people together

Fondue is more than just a meal. The spirit of sitting around a hot pot and sharing a communal meal is essential to the experience and necessitated by the dish. There’s something wonderful about the hands-on element, the light of the flame, and the warmth of the dish that just guarantees a good time.

So ditch the misconceptions and warm your cold winter nights with a venerable bubbling pot of cheesy happiness. We at Murray’s are here to help!

These Are a Few of My Favorite [Murray’s] Things!

The holidays are HERE, and with them come a slew of new goodies for me to become obsessed with. Here are just a few of my favorite new things.

2-Year Aged Comte

Throughout the year, we have customers who venture to the cheese counter, inquiring about the status of our elusive 2-year aged Comte.  More often than not, we must sadly shake our heads and reveal the bitter truth—the time for this seasonal cheese hasn’t come.  But rejoice, fromage connoisseurs! This raw cow’s milk beauty is back and better than ever. You may recall from a previous post the story of our buyer’s journey to retrieve this marvel of the cheese world.  After tasting what was specially chosen just for Murray’s, I fell in love. I brought some home, ate until I couldn’t eat any more, and then had to have just…one…more…bite. It is the perfect snacking cheese—nutty, fruity, the perfect blend of savory and sweet, with a semi-firm but creamy texture that melts like butter in your mouth.  Though it’s hard to improve on perfection, this chameleon cheese pairs with almost any assortment of jams, honeys, butters or charcuterie. You won’t believe it until you taste for yourself—but we’ve found the perfect cheese.

Holiday gift note: If you can stand to share this seasonal alpine-style cheese, someone will love you dearly.

 

Rush Creek Reserve

Artisanal. American. Raw milk. My interest is piqued. But what’s so special about Rush Creek Reserve? For one thing, it’s made by Uplands Cheese Company in Wisconsin (the same folks who make award-winning Pleasant Ridge Reserve), who believe in a grass-fed pasture diet and seasonal herding for their cows. This means the animals are happy and healthy, which leads to better, more flavorful milk (and of course, better cheese!).  As for the cheese itself, Rush Creek Reserve sports a lovely spruce bark belt around its soft, ripe exterior—inspired by the famous French Vacherin Mont d’Or.  The result—oh, the result!—a delicate, woodsy, beefy paste that sings on the tongue and impresses your friends at holiday parties.

Holiday gift note: This seasonal cheese only comes from autumn milk, so its availability is extremely limited. Get it before someone beats you to it!

 

 

Societe-Original Seashore Honey

Most people know that honey makes a terrific complement to most varieties of cheese, but fewer think about why that is. Like cheese, honey is fascinating because its flavors vary based on terroir—the plants and flower nectar the honeybee collects determines the taste of its resulting honey (floral, fruity, nutty, etc.) in the same way that a ruminant’s diet will influence the taste of its milk and cheese. So I think we can agree—honey is a magical thing. But this honey? Magic becomes divine.  In addition to the sweet, floral taste (courtesy of French Canadian seaside summer pollen) the texture is creamy, smooth, and nougat-like.  Just as a cheesemaker or affineur can shape the texture of a cheese, the makers of Societe-Original whip the already delicious raw foundation to create light, fondant perfection. Picture coming soon, but trust me – it is a beaut!!!

Holiday gift note: Need a gift for that hard-to-please foodie? Stop looking. This is it!

 

Jeni’s Oatmeal Crème Ice Cream Sandwich

photo courtesy of jeni’s splendid ice creams!

Before you get your hopes up, no, sadly we can’t sell this one online! But if you’re ever near our Bleecker Store, you’re in for a treat. Jeni’s Ice Cream could convert even the most adamant ice cream opposition (which can’t actually exist, right?)—because it’s that good. The milk is sourced from Snowville creamery grass-fed cows, and the ice cream is made from scratch with all-natural ingredients.  So if the quality of Jeni’s Ugandan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is amazing, and the flavor is out of this world, how might you improve on a tried-and-true formula? Stick that ice cream between some of the greatest oatmeal cookies ever created! Flavored with molasses and cinnamon, the soft oat-filled cookies soak in the cool, rich vanilla ice cream to create the perfect dessert.  Jeni’s other Ice Cream Sandwiches are worth trying, but in my opinion, this Oatmeal Crème can’t be beat!

Holiday gift note: Santa prefers Jeni’s Ice Cream Sandwiches.

 

La Quercia Acorn Tamworth Coppa

I must admit that I hold a soft place in my heart for Iowa-based prosciutto company La Quercia and its products.  After living in the Italian province of Parma (yes, the Parma of prosciutto renown) for several years, the husband and wife team from Iowa decided to bring premium quality prosciutto to their own state and country. From what started as simply prosciutto sourced from local, sustainable producers, La Quercia grew to include a plethora of cured meats. And these meats are incredible!  The La Quercia product I can’t get enough of right now is the Acorn Tamworth Coppa. Tamworth pigs from Missouri spend their last three months foraging acorns in the Ozarks from oak and hickory trees, which leads to a sweet and nutty flavor and silky, melt-in-your-mouth texture.  Coppa comes from the top of the pig’s shoulder, which ensures a lovely meat to fat ratio, evidenced by the beautiful white marbling on the cut.  This is the perfect meat to pair with cheese or adorn a cold plate—and (here comes the blasphemy) this American-made acorn coppa is miles above the Italian original in taste and texture. Currently only available in NYC stores.

Holiday gift notes: Local. Sustainable. Delicious. Pork.

 

Lauren McDowell is a cheesemonger who moonlights as a food scholar, earning a graduate degree in Food Studies at New York University one bite research paper at a time.

Coming to a Murray’s Near You: Fondue Nation

                                                                     

Saturday, December 15th, 2-6pm at every Murray’s shop nationwide

Warm up with winter fondue! Be a part of Fondue Nation, America’s largest fondue party. Hot, gooey, melt-y cheese for all. On December 15th at every Murray’s shop nationwide, you’ll find eager cheese experts ready to feed you a dreamy combination of cheeses and teach you how to be fondue fabulous. Free samples & recipes, activities for kids and a chance to win a trip for two in NYC*, valued at more than $2,000. To find a Murray’s shop near you, go to our store locator.

 

New York City Eataway Sweepstakes

 

 

 

 

 

Grand prize includes 2 nights at the Dream Downtown hotel, dinner at Murray’s Cheese Bar and a private tour of our cheese caves. Ten runners-up  receives a Boska fondue pot and three melting cheeses so you can continue the fondue cheese tradition year-round. Enter to win now through December 31.

After-Hours Holiday Shopping Event! Wednesday, December 5th 9-10:30pm

After-Hours Holiday Shopping Event

Wednesday, December 5th, 9-10:30pm at Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village, 254 Bleecker Street

Join us for an exclusive after-hours shopping event where you’ll

Taste new craft beers and ciders, holiday gifts, and our favorite seasonal cheeses.

Save 20% off all retail purchases, classes, mail order and catering orders for one night only.

Help New Yorkers hit by Hurricane Sandy. Ticket sales will be donated to Food Bank for NYC’s Sandy relief fund.

 

Admission is $10. Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Food Bank for New York City’s Hurricane Sandy relief fund.

Space is limited! Signup online.

Questions?Email beth@murrayscheese.com.