Boo! The Scariest Cheeses for Halloween

scary cheese

Scary gorgeous photo by Carey Nershi

Happy Halloween! It’s time for ghosts and goblins and other scary things. Cheese doesn’t have to be one of them, but it certainly can be. What better time than now for brainy rinds and sizable stink factor? There’s nothing to be afraid of. Promise.

Bonne BoucheBonne Bouche is the flagship of Vermont Creamery’s signature aged goat cheeses. Made with pasteurized goat’s milk, the curd is carefully hand-ladled into molds, lightly sprinkled with ash, and aged just long enough to develop a wrinkly, brain-like rind. Reminiscent of Loire Valley favorites like Selles Sur Cher, Bonne Bouche also pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc.Frighteningly good.

Murray’s CaveMaster Reserve Greensward: If giant, funky flavor and oozy goodness scare you, don’t read on. Creating a new cheese is hard work! After tons of experimentation, we’ve arrived at perfection. Perfect spoonable, silky texture. Perfect big, bacony flavor. Perfect notes of forest and resin from Greensward’s pretty spruce jacket. The perfect collaboration with Jasper Hill. For even more perfection, open a light Gamay, or bourbon, and dive into this beauty with pieces of crusty bread.

stinky_murrays_cave_aged_epoisseÉpoisses: Don’t be afraid of the stink! You may not know it, but Époisses is actually a French word meaning “completely worth the effort”—either that or “stinky but incredibly loveable” because the end result, a custardy bacon bomb, is oh-so-worth-it. One slurp of the intensely creamy paste of this French classic, and you’ll know why we go to such lengths to ensure that this unctuous pasteurized cow’s milk round, made in Burgundy, France, is so delightfully decadent. After near extinction in France during the World Wars, Époisses de Bourgogne was resurrected in the 1950s by our beloved M. Berthaut. After being carefully hand-ladled into forms and dry-salted, each wheel takes a turn in French cave. Tucked into a clever wooden box meant to ease transport to our fair shores, serving Époisses isn’t nearly as difficult as aging it—slice a crusty baguette and dunk away, adding a glass of Burgundian white for terroir-driven perfection.

Coupole: Another wrinkly beauty from Vermont Creamery. As it ages, the pristine, velvety edible rind softens the fresh chevre beneath to an unctuous creamline. The resulting two textures of its cross-section make for a stunning visual presentation; this is an ideal selection for a stand alone cheese or first position of a cheese plate. Pair with a dry, grassy white.

Murray’s Cincinnati Cheese Festival City Guide: Our Favorite Cincinnati Haunts

cincy guide mapWe’re gearing up for the first ever Cincinnati Cheese Festival, and we hope to see you there. On Friday, November 6, dozens of the country’s best cheese and specialty food producers will show off their most delicious treats in Over-the-Rhine…and hundreds of Cincinnatians will gather for great food, drink, and community festivities.

Our home base is New York City, but we spend a whole lot of time around the country–from Arkansas to Oregon to Alaska–where we have 250 Murray’s stores and counting. Cincinnati is the site of the first Murray’s location outside of NYC, and the place where we launched our partnership with Kroger. The city has a special place in our hearts and bellies. We love Cincy, and we spend a lot of time here selling cheese and taking breaks for tacos and other deliciousness. Here are some of our trusty favorites, and the first of an upcoming series of City Guides–the scoop on places where we love to eat and explore.

What are your favorite spots? Snap ‘em—or better yet, you enjoying them—& tag #saycheesecincinnati

Without further ado…the Cincinnati City Guide!

The Eagle: A beer hall with fried chicken that makes us all weak in the knees. Free range birds are brined, dredged, then dropped into custom-built fryers. Pair with cheddar grits, if you’re smart.

1342 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH

Moerlein Lager House: They brew (great) beer here, and their selection of Cincinnati-brewed beers is nothing short of awesome. For sustenance: pillowy soft pretzels with beer cheese.

115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati, OH

graetersGraeters: A lot has changed in 140 years since Graters began, but the fam biz still makes ice cream two gallons at a time, with the French Pot Process for unreal creaminess. Just say yes to Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip.

Many locations (thank the ice cream Gods)

Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse: Sometimes the New Yorker in us will settle for nothing less than a dry-aged New York Strip in a wonderfully clubby, old-school steakhouse. Even better with Maytag Blue Cheese Butter.

700 Walnut St, Cincinnati, OHDerby Weekend at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse (Derby Eve)

Metropole: In Cincinnati’s 21c Museum Hotel, Chef Jared Bennett makes magic in his custom-built wood-burning fireplace. His smoky blue cheese-topped burger: OMG. Plus there are big yellow penguins, so.

609 Walnut St, Cincinnati, OH

Skyline Chili: The original, with chocolate as the not-so-secret ingredient. Chili + spaghetti + cheddar is a three-way. Add onions or red beans for a four-way, or both for a five-way, if you like it kinky.

skylineMany locations (thank the chocolaty chili Gods)

Fifty West Brewing Company: The 50 West Brewing folks craft upward of a dozen beers, and they’re mighty tasty. So is their Hot Brown sandwich: turkey, bacon, and tomato, topped with a gruyere and an over easy egg.

7668 Wooster Pike, Cincinnati, OH

Bakersfield: Taco joy, plus over 100 tequilas and American whiskeys in a pretty, lively spot. So many brilliant choices! The braised short rib taco, with queso fresco, radish and crema is no joke.

1213 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OHbakersfield


In the back of this low-key, sexy spot, cooks roll out seemingly endless sheets of handmade pasta. Order the gemelli con pomodoro with san marzano tomatoes, arugula, and burrata that oozes as if weeping with joy.

118 East Sixth Street, Cincinnati, OH

Senate: This trendy OTR mecca makes hot dogs that top the best hot dogs ever list, plus killer poutine with local cheese curds. Try the Lindsay Lohan: a beef dog with

goat cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, arugula, balsamic…and tons of drama.

1212 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH

A Tavola: Wood-fired pizza, great wines, craft beer, and yummy cocktails. Sweet pea, bacon and fontina pizza is something beautiful, even by New York pizza snob standards.

1220 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH

Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza - Bar from Mezzanine

Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza – Bar from Mezzanine

The Bar at the Hilton Netherlands Hotel: We love a snazzy hotel one. This elegant Art Deco spot is full of gorgeous details. We’ve drunk many a Manhattan at the huge bar. Say hi to the bartender with the incredible hairstyle.

35 W 5th St, Cincinnati, OH

Great American Ballpark: The home of the Cincinnati Red’s is also a bona fide food and drink destination. Keep it simple and soul-satisfying with pork loin back ribs from Montgomery Inn. Plus a side of mac and cheese, of course.

100 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati, OH

Taste of Belgium: Respect the waffle. Start your day with a McWaffle:

egg, bacon, Gruyère, maple syrup. End it with waffles, crunchy fried chicken and hot sauce. Take home some waffles for midnight snacking.

1135 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH

Newport Hoffbrauhaus:  We once stumbled on a German folk celebration here. The men danced with sausages around their necks and we ate schnitzel bigger than our heads topped with beer cheese. Plus, fried pickles.

200 E 3rd St, Newport, KY

Rheingeist Brewery: Built in the the skeleton of the old Moerlein bottling plant, these guys brew 20bbl batches of beer that sing with flavor. Play some cornhole and ping pong, or throw an epic party in their 25,000 sqaure foot space.

1910 Elm Street, Cincinnati, OH


Notes from our Cave Master: Some Amazing Health Benefits of Cheese

cheese tastingNote: We’re cheese people, not doctors, but we have a deep conviction that cheese is healthy. More and more, science is backing us up. This is our second post in a series on why eating cheese is good for you. (The delicious part needs no proof.) PJ runs our Cheese Caves, and has a rich background in biology. PJ, take it away! 

The practice of turning nutrient-rich milk into cheese is thought to date back to 10,000 BC. At that time nutrition had a slightly different connotation than it does today. Having enough protein and fat in your diet was the difference between life and death. Milk from recently domesticated sheep and goats was essential to meeting these simple nutritional needs. The problem of counting on milk to fulfill these needs in an age without refrigeration or pasteurization is very rapid perishability. It is believed that very simple cheeses were made to preserve this vital protein/fat source.

The life of an artisan cheese-eating human in the 21st century has different nutritional needs to worry about. Fat is usually seen as an indulgence instead as a necessity and protein consumption is rarely an issue among meat eating individuals. With basic nutritional needs fulfilled, are there still health benefits of eating cheese? The simple answer is yes. In today’s society, food that most people consider healthy can also be categorized as functional. Functional foods are foods that have health benefits beyond the basic needs of nutrition; ultimately promoting health and/or reducing the risk of disease. Recent research has revealed functional components of cheese. I will discuss a few of the functional properties of cheese protein and peptides.

Different cheese varieties vary in their protein content. Cream cheese contains roughly 3.1% protein, while parmesan contains roughly 36.2% protein. As cheese ages, enzymes will break the protein down into peptides and amino acids. These protein fragments are essential to cheese flavor. We are more recently discovering their contribution to health.

One way of promoting health is to prevent disease. We live in an age where most people expect their food to be safe. The reality is that there will always be a certain degree of risk when consuming food. Particular cheeses might have a built-in defense system. Peptides isolated from certain cheese varieties have been shown to have antibacterial properties. Potentially, these peptides could protect the product from pathogenic bacteria.

Antibacterial peptides have been found in different Italian cheese varieties (including Caciocavallo and Mozzarella)1, different Cheddar cheese varieties2, and others. It has also been discovered that certain strains of Brevibacterium Linens (a bacteria commonly found on washed rind cheeses) produce antimicrobial peptides3. As more research on this topic comes to light, it is looking more and more likely that certain cheeses have the ability to defend themselves.

Breakdown of protein during cheese aging could also have positive effects on blood pressure. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) is an enzyme in the human body that constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure. Inhibition of this enzyme has a positive effect on hypertension. Much research has been done over the years regarding peptides that inhibit ACE, and many ACE-inhibitors have been found in food products. Cheese is one of these products. Two very potent ACE-Inhibiting peptides; valyl-prolyl-proline and isoleucyl-prolyl-proline are common amino acid sequences in cheese proteins. L. Helveticus (a lactic acid bacteria used in cheesemaking) has the potential to release these sequences in cheese. ACE-inhibiting peptides have been found in Gouda4, Manchego5, Roncal, Cabrales6, and others.

A third advantage of certain cheese peptides is the ability to act as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are chemicals that neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are formed when an atom or molecule gains or loses an electron. These charged atoms/molecules go on to damage different parts of human cells. It’s possible that the damage will lead to health complications or cancer. Cheese peptides found in cheddar2 are able to act as antioxidants. It’s also been discovered that different milk-derived peptides provide antioxidant properties7. It is very likely that these antioxidant-peptides are common among different cheese varieties.

It is becoming clear that the peptides formed by protein breakdown during cheese aging have beneficial health effects. Cheese peptides can be antioxidants, they can lower blood pressure, and they can fight disease. As more research comes out on this subject, our views on cheese and health might change.

1Rizzello, C.G. et al. (2015). Antibacterial Activities of Peptides from the Water-Soluble Extracts of Italian Cheese Varieties. Journal of Dairy Science , 88(7) , 2348 – 2360.
2Pritchard S.R., Phillips M., & Kailasapathy k. (2010). Identification of bioactive peptides in commercial Cheddar cheese. Food Research International, 43(5), 1545-1548.
3Motta, A.S. and Brandelli, A. (2002), Characterization of an antibacterial peptide produced by Brevibacterium linens. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 92: 63–70.
4Saito, T. et al. (2000). Isolation and Structural Analysis of Antihypertensive Peptides That Exist Naturally in Gouda Cheese. Journal of Dairy Science. 83(7), 1434-1440.
5Gomez-Ruiz J.A., Ramos M., & Recio I. (2002) Angiotensin-converting enzyme-inhibitory peptides in Manchego cheeses manufactured with different starter cultures. International Dairy Journal. 12(8), 697-706.
6Gomez-Ruiz J.A. et al. (2006). Identification of ACE-inhibitory peptides in different Spanish cheeses by tandem mass spectrometry. European Food Research and Technology. 223(5), 595-601.
7Korhonen H. (2009). Milk-derived bioactive peptides: From science to applications. Journal of Functional Foods. 1(2), 177-187.

Celebrate 75 Years of Murray’s Cheese With Us!

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 2.54.48 PMMurray’s, New York’s oldest cheese shop, is celebrating our 75th anniversary from October 12 – October 25. We’re busy with special dinners, promotions, classes and giveaways–please join us! Check out our lineup here.

“We’ve had phenomenal growth in the past few years,” notes Murray’s President Rob Kaufelt, “but to those of us on staff, it still has the feel of a mom and pop business.”

We have grown from 3 stores in 2008 to nearly 250 stores today, and we continue to grow every day. By 2016, we will have 350 Murray’s stores within Kroger supermarkets throughout the country. We sell 6 million pounds of cheese a year. That’s a whole lot of cheese.

barden blue

We’ve kept our neighborhood soul, while becoming the national cheese brand. We’ve opened a shop in Grand Central Market, created state-of-the-art caves to ripen cheese to perfection, launched a beloved cheese bar, and built a rich and growing partnership with The Kroger Company.

What is the Murray’s experience? It’s about sharing the cheeses (more than 150 varieties in any given store!) and many other artisan-made goods that we find across the world. It’s about teaching you cheese through tasting and introducing you to your cheesemaker. It’s about spreading joy via cheese. We’ll never stop learning and sharing cheese with you, every day of the year.

You–our customers, our community, our fellow cheese-lovers–are what makes us great. Thank you for a wonderful 75 years. Here’s to 75 more!