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

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

Serve cheese like a pro at your holiday party

It’s true: The easiest, tastiest way to host your friends and family for the holidays is with a fantastic cheese spread.  Whether you’re a cheese newbie or a fromage fanatic, this season’s latest and greatest party cheeses will help you plan your most delicious gathering.  So sit back, let your mind drift to the gooey, the crumbly, the yummiest cheeses of the season.

Getting started: A great party spread has up to 6 cheeses of all different styles and milk types.  We suggest delighting your guests with a mix of buttery, grassy, pungent or caramelly tastes.

More than just cheese: When picking accompaniments, from wine to nuts, pick a pairing principle:

  • Choose items that are complementary – pair similar flavors together, like a flavorful cheddar with a bold wine;
  • That old adage is true with cheese, too:  opposites attract.  Don’t be shy about mixing sweet with salty;
  • What grows together goes together – you can’t go wrong with cheese and pairings from the same neck of the woods.

Not sure how much to buy?  Our rule of thumb is 1-2 oz per cheese, per person for a party or an appetizer spread before dinner. (most of our assortments serve up to10)

Serving Sense: Cheese tastes better at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge one hour before serving.  For a party, set out on a board with one knife per cheese – start cutting into each piece to get it started, then let your guests go to town.

Sommelier for a day:  Want to impress by pairing cheese with wine or beer like an expert?  Click here to view our full beverage pairing guide.

Learn even more by going reading our Cheese Basics.

New assortment for the holiday season: Cheeselovers Anonymous

Cheeselovers Anonymous (pictured above) features a complete tasting through all of the cheese styles – we couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect party package!

Kidding Season: Why now is the time for fresh goat cheese

by Grace Mitchell

We all know it because of our own human experience:  animals only produce milk after they give birth to their young.  It’s easy, however, to forget this plain fact of nature when we have a constant supply of fresh milk, cheese, and other dairy products.  Thanks to modern technologies and human manipulation of animals’ natural cycles, we can conveniently partake in dairy year-round.

But just like those out of season vegetables that we buy at the supermarket, this consistent supply of dairy is sometimes lackluster when it comes to taste.  While the majority of dairying in this country occurs without consideration for the natural cycles of animals, there are a few dairies and cheesemakers who understand that making cheese in accordance with the seasons will yield the best product.

In seasonal dairying, animals give birth to their young in spring and begin producing milk to feed them.  This resurgence in milk production comes after a dry period in which the animals do not produce milk.  Goats, for example, have a ten-month lactation cycle, and milk production that begins in spring thus ceases in late fall or early winter.  At this time, the goats also must move off pasture with the arrival of cold weather, and their milk quality changes with quality of their feed.

Now that it’s spring again, the goats have given birth and are once again making milk.  This recommencement of milk production also corresponds to moving the goats to pasture.  No longer wintering indoors dining upon stored winter feed, these goats are now grazing on lush spring pastures and woodland browse which endow their milk with an array of vitamins, minerals, and other flavor compounds, thus yielding especially complex cheeses.

Some of the cheeses made from this milk are intended to age for several months, such as Consider Bardewell’s Manchester.  But for those of us in desperate need of instant gratification, there is fresh chevre for us to enjoy right now.

I attribute my most memorable and extended encounter with fresh chevre to my stint working on a goat cheese farm, at which I arrived in late spring.  There was an abundance of baby goats, and a corresponding abundance of fresh chevre, present three meals a day.  Luckily, my springtime chevre habit need not desist now that I live in the city, as Murray’s has made great friends with Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanagan, owners and operators of Nettle Meadow Farm in the Adirondacks.  From the milk of their 300 goats, they make some of our favorite cheeses, including Kunik.  In the spring they handcraft fresh chevres, some of which are so lovingly flavored, and all of which are pillowy, milky, tangy, lemony, and absolutely dreamy in your mouth.  It’s best right now–so quick!  Get yourself some fresh chevre while it’s delicate, complex, and benefitting from the newness of spring growth.