Pro Tips for Creating the Perfect Holiday Cheese Plate

content_Murrays-Cheese-PlateIt’s entertaining season, and the king of the Murray’s classroom, Dan Belmont, recently shared with Gotham Magazine his top 10 cheese entering tips. Here are some of our go-to’s:

1. Balance is key. 

You don’t want a plate of three different brie-style cheeses, or all blues for that matter. You want to create a progression from mild to intense flavors featuring a variety of cheese styles, origins, and milk types. When selecting each component for your board, remember that texture should be balanced, too.

2. Light-bodied reds go with everything.

Pinot Noir is probably the most versatile food-pairing wine. Try selecting a lighter bodied one from a cool-climate region like Burgundy or New York’s Finger Lakes. A good Pinot will be herbaceous, earthy, and fruity with good acidity. Heavier wines like Barolo or Bordeaux don’t play as well with certain molds.

3. Add something sweet.

Honey will always have a home with Blue cheeses, playing off the sweet and salty combination and its thick texture is luxurious on the palate. Fig jam works with just about anything, while strawberry preserves are a knockout with a nice alpine-style cheese like Comte. Get creative and try a caramel sauce or chocolate for your Goudas, Cheddars, Bries, and even Blues!

Head on over to Gotham Magazine to read Dan’s full list!

Vertical Pairings at the Vermont Cheesemaker Festival

Vertical Pairings at the Vermont Cheesemaker Festival

By Caitlin Bower

 

Let’s get vertical.

Vertical tasting explores the history of a cheese: how it starts (as milk, as curd, as a fresh cheese, as a toddler) to how it ends up in its final expression. It is the most immediate and accessible way to taste and understand affinage. By eating a cheese at different stages of its development, you taste the flavors that can develop with careful treatment, age and time. While attending July’s Vermont Cheesemaker Festival, I attended a seminar in which three featured cheesemakers chose a different way to explore this process, and with different milk types.

1. Fresh Curd vs. 1 year old (pasteurized and raw cow) – Plymouth Artisan Cheeses

Granular curd cheesemaking is the rare, work-intensive process that Plymouth Artisan Cheese owner, Jesse Werner, was able to showcase with his fresh curd and year-old Plymouth “The Original” side by side. From an 1890’s recipe, the curd was squeaky, delicious and a tiny bit tangy. The “Original” is made with those same curds and has a bright, acidic, cheddary flavor, much altered by age and process.

The Mozzarella Making class at Murray’s also offers the opportunity to taste both curd and cheese, with a fun, hands-on addition of making your own mozzarella in the classroom.

2. Young Bloomy vs Aged Alpine (sheep) – Woodcock Farm Cheese Co

This vertical pair explored the same milk type expressed in two styles: one younger and soft, one older and hard.

Summer Snow vs. the Wheston Wheel – you can even hear it in the name; the first cheese is a delicate, exuberant, young, soft cheese with a tender, slightly squeaky rind while the second is nuttier, sweeter, complex and more robust.

 

3. Fresh vs. Mold Ripened (goat) – Vermont Creamery

crottin, a super-fresh goat milk button

bijou is lightly aged, which gives it time to develop its silk rind

From fresh chèvre to brain like and acidic, the Crottin’s final form is the Bijou. The first cheese has a tiny amount of the geotrichum, which adds a slight yeasty flavor at a day old, develops into a full rind by the second week to become an entirely different cheese. This vertical pairing is a perfect example of how much a cheese can change in just two short weeks, and how both can be delicious in their own right.

 

 

 

 

 

Try out a vertical taste test on your own!

Cellars at Jasper Hill: Harbison vs. Cavemaster Reserve Greensward

1 year Comte vs. 2 or 3 year Comte

And for a triple-header, go for the Murray’s Cavemaster trio: Kinderhook Creek vs. Hudson Flower vs. C Local

 

Don’t Mind If We Fondue: Three Easy Recipes That Will Make You Melt

As temperatures drop (and drop and drop), we like to eschew the polar vortex and curl up ‘round a nice fondue pot full of our favorite ooey-gooey melted cheeses, dunking everything in sight (things like hot chorizo, fingerling potatoes, and hunks of baguette) into silken strings of dairy goodness, finishing off each bite with a bright, briny cornichon.  Get the recipes below—from classic to daring– bubblin’ in your melting pot.

Murray’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.

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Murray’s Funky ‘Due

Ingredients:
8oz Ardrahan, cubed
8oz Murray’s English Cheddar, grated
12oz Your favorite IPA beer (We recommend the Peekskill IPA)
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pinch cayenne
1 dash Frank’s Hot Sauce (or other vinegary hot sauce)
1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
1 tablespoon cornstarch

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Murray’s Fancy ‘Due

Ingredients:
8 oz. (approx. 2 cups) Comté, grated
8 oz. (approx. 2 cups) Fontina, grated
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
1 clove garlic
1 cup Champagne or other favorite sparkling white wine 
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.

 

 

 

 

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Directions:
1.Remove the rind from the Ardrahan and cube. 
2.Grate the Murray’s English Cheddar and toss both with the cornstarch. 
3.In a saucepan, heat the beer, garlic, hot sauce and cayenne pepper to a simmer. 
4.Gradually add the cheese a half a cup at a time, whisking constantly until combined and emulsified. 
5.Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Check out our fave cheeses and accompaniments you just can’t fondue without this season.  Happy melting!

So, What’s The Deal With Cheese 101?

Over the last few weeks, you might have noticed that we have been sharing a series of videos called “Cheese 101.” Earlier this year, we were trying to come up with new ways to share some basic cheese knowledge. If you look at the Murray’s mission statement, it ends with the phrase “… to continue to educate ourselves and customers on the pleasures of cheese.”

We take our mission seriously.  We’re here to put specialty cheese at the forefront of food conversations in America. While there is a bevy of cheese information out there, we wanted to make it quick, easy, and most importantly, fun to demystify cheese which led us to the “Cheese 101″ video series.

Our first four videos covers the basics. From choosing the perfect wedge, the appropriate portioning size, and pairing with the perfect beverage, the videos help guide you through all the facets of buying cheese. Our first two videos are out, but look for “Cheese and Drink Pairings” on 11/19 and “Entertaining with Cheese” on 11/26.

Being a real curd nerd takes time and dedication, we hope that this series provides a a brief  introduction that you will need to dive into the land of curds and whey.

Still feeling a little anxious, and want a little help buying that first round of cheese? Check out our Cheese For Beginners selection, and get it delivered right to your door, or send it to a loved one for a funky holiday gift. You can view all of our 2013 holiday gift collections through our digital Gift Guide. Remember, you can order today, and schedule your delivery closer to the holidays!

Want to take your cheese education to the next level? We offer a variety of different cheese classes 6 days a week at our Bleecker street store!

How to Throw A Raclette Party

Raclette comes from the French word “Racler” which means to scrape. It is a cheese traditionally eaten in Switzerland. The Swiss cow herders used to take the cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from the pastures up in the mountains. In the evenings around the campfire, they would place the cheese next to the fire and, when it had reached the perfect softness, scrape it on top of some bread. Today we use fancy machines to do the melting, but the results are just as tasty. The cheese has a mellow, slightly funky flavor that makes it the perfect accompaniment to almost anything, and the texture is ideal for melting.

 

Throwing a Raclette Party is easy. The key is to have a nice variety of meats, veggies and bread for topping with the gooey cheese. There are 2 kinds of raclette machines: one holds a quarter wheel of the cheese and heats it under a lamp, the other heats individual portions of cheese on little pans. If you don’t have a raclette machine you can use a nonstick pan to melt slabs of the cheese, it’s just a little messier.

Here are some of our favorite things to serve with raclette:

Artisanal Breads

Vegetables: Small Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Butternut Squash, Cipolline Onions, Cauliflower

Meats: Prosciutto, Speck, Jambon Royale, Finocchiona Salami, Chorizo, Roasted Pork

Fruits that go with cheese: Sliced pears, sliced apples

Fruits to refresh the palate: Grapes, Berries, Dried fruits

Acidic and briny bites to refresh the palate: Cornichons, Olives