The Birds Behind the Curds: Cypress Grove’s Mary Keehn

You’ve probably tasted some of Cypress Grove’s amazing goat cheeses–Humboldt Fog, with its bright white, cakey paste and gorgeous line of gray ash through the middle tops many people’s Favorite Cheese List–and if you haven’t: get to it. Based in Arcata, California, they’ve been making cheese since the early 1980s. With Mary Keehn at the heart of the operation, the company became one of the country’s foremost artisanal cheesemakers.  We thought you’d like to know a little more about where some truly amazing cheese comes from–and the expert craftswoman behind it.

Esmerelda & Hazel

And let us not forget these ladies behind the cheese…Originally just looking for a healthy source of milk for her family, founder Mary Keehn asked her neighbor, who was using goats as scrub control, if she could have a couple.  The farmer’s response, “Honey, if you can catch ‘em, you can have them.”  Esmeralda and Hazel were the lucky ones that didn’t get away. 

Establishing a Market

Coming from a background in biology, Mary Keehn began breeding her goats in the 1970s, but soon began to dabble in cheese-making.  She was encouraged by a local restaurant and founded Cypress Grove in 1983.  At the time, most goat cheese on the market was French, plastic sealed, and rubbery in texture. After lots of experimentation, Mary created Humboldt Fog, challenging the notion of what good goat cheese was and forever changing the American definition of goat cheese.

Ashes to Ashes

Many people commonly mistake the dark line running through and around Humboldt Fog as blue mold.  In fact, it is an edible ash made from vegetables.  The fresh curd is pressed half-way into a cheesecloth-lined mold and then the powdered ash is sprinkled on top.  The molds are filled the rest of the way with curd and then the outside is generously coated with ash before they begin aging.

Proteoly-what???

Proteolysis is the break down of proteins that occurs just under the rind when cheese ages and is a defining feature in Cypress Grove’s cheeses.  As it ages, this section of the paste transforms from firm, to soft, to oozy liquid gold. It also contributes to the flavor development of the cheese, which grows stronger as it ages.

Building a Better Tomorrow

With help from their parent company, Emmi of Switzerland, Cypress Grove recently built a new dairy just down the road from their creamery.  With sustainability in mind, the new facility features buildings made from recycled steel and fabric covers that help reduce their energy use by 50%.  They are also in the process of building a brand new creamery next to their current one and hope to have it open by this July (2014).

The Bottom Line

Mary Keehn and Cypress Grove were true pioneers in the artisan cheese movement. Their cheeses are an homage to rural Humboldt County, the distinct land where they were born, where the redwoods of California meet the Pacific Ocean.  The white fluffy rind and gray-green ash invoke the fog that continually rolls over the creamery.  There is hardly a more iconic American goat cheese than Humboldt Fog, which is a true testament to the dedication and continued consistency of Cypress Grove. 

The Goods

Humboldt Fog
Pasteurized Goat Milk

With its stark white paste and delicate ash line, Humboldt Fog is one of the prettiest ladies on the block. Looking at the uncut wheel, you’d be forgiven for not knowing if it was a cheese or a cake. The super rich, cakey paste proves why this cheese has been a powerhouse for years. Crack open the wheel and cut yourself a slab.  Then smile as the creamy, tangy paste dissolves on your tongue and the flavor transforms from mild to a mineral, peppery finish.

Truffle Tremor
Pasteurized Goat Milk


Like goat cheese?  What about truffles?  Thought so.  Truffle Tremor is made in the same manner as the Humboldt Fog, but then they throw a curve ball by adding a whole crap ton of truffles into the curd.   The result?  Pure delight.  The fungal earthiness of the truffle blends seamlessly into the rich milk, creating the perfect small indulgence.

By: Lizzie Roller, Murray’s Cheese Wholesale


 

 

 

 

Gettin’ Grilled: Murray’s Celebrates National Grilled Cheese Month!

It’s a Murray’s melt down! A whole month devoted to grilled cheese? What could be better! From coast-to-coast, Murray’s will be celebrating all that is ooey-gooey!

The Big Cheesy (New York)

On April 12th and 13th we will be going head-to-head in the ultimate NYC grilled cheese competition. Some of NY’s premiere sandwich slingers and cheese rock stars will face off in the Big Cheesy, New York’s ultimate grilled cheese competition. The melt-off will be held at Openhouse Gallery, and Sixpoint will be serving some cold brews to wash down all of that melted goodness. You can find all the details you need here.

Our master melters will be serving up samples of these two contenders:

“The Peppa Jack”

Sweet Peppadews with creamy and slightly spicy Pepper Jack cheese

“The Picante Pig”

Pulled Pork and black beans, with a salsa verde dipping sauce

The Grilled Cheese Invitational (Los Angeles)

Now that Murray’s is fully rocking out in LA, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to throw down in this years Grilled Cheese Invitational. Twenty cheesemasters will bring their A Game to determine who is the best Grilled Cheese Master of the west. This is all going down on Saturday, April 12th –  find more information here.  We’ll be meltin’ one  super special sammy to mark the occasion; it’s our tribute to relaxed vibes, and sunshine of Los Angeles — the “California Meltin'” sandwich. Can’t make it to the event? Whip one up at home with our recipe!

“California Meltin'”

Ingredients:
-2 slices sourdough bread (Approx. 1 inch thick)
-1 TBSP  Fig Jam
-1 Slice La Quercia Speck
-1.5 oz Emmenthaler cheese (sliced)
-1 TBSP butter
 
Directions:
 -Spread the Fig Spread on one side of bread
-Layer Speck on top of jam, top with cheese
-Set stove to med-low heat
-Butter pan or the outside of each side of bread and put sandwich on pan
-Cook until brown (5 minutes)
-Flip and brown the other side (4 minutes)

Game of Tommes: A Cheese Plate for the Houses of Westeros

“The cheese will be served when I want it served, and I want it served now.” -Queen of Thorns

Winter is Going. All men must eat some cheese.

Aw yeah, curdnerds! All we can say is: Finally!

Not gonna lie…we’ve been eagerly anticipating Season 4 (and spring…), so while we were re-viewing Season 3, we came up with this guide to the Great Houses of Westeros, complete with cheese pairings matched to each family.

Gather round, kick back in your iron throne, and let the game begin again.

House Martell –  ‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken’

House Nymeros Martell of Sunspear is one of the Great Houses of Westeros and the ruling house of Dorne. ‘Nymeros’ indicates “of the line of Nymeria,” but generally it is simply called House Martell. The Martells of old used a spear as their emblem, while Nymeria and the Rhoynar used the sun as theirs.

Goat Feta – The warm climate calls for a fresh, simple cheese like Vermont Creamery’s Goat Milk Feta: it’s salty and mild with a hint of herbaceous tang.

 

House Tyrell – ‘Growing Strong’

House Tyrell of Highgarden is one of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms, overlords over the Reach. A large, wealthy house, its wealth is only surpassed among the Great Houses by House Lannister, and the Tyrells can field the greatest armies. Their house symbol is a flower, their sigil bears a golden rose on a green field.

Hudson Flower, Murray’s Cavemaster Reserve – Based on Fleur du Maquis, this sheep milk round is rolled around in dried flowers and pampered in our caves.

House Tully – ‘Family, Duty, Honor’

House Tully of Riverrun is one of the Great Houses of Seven Kingdoms. Lord Hoster Tully rules over the Riverlands from the Tully seat of Riverrun. Their sigil is a silver trout leaping on a blue and red striped field.

Epoisses  - A classy cheese, to be sure, it’s got bold character to match the proud Tullys. This washed rind classic from Burgundy can come on strong, but mellows into luscious, gooey softness imparting its deep, meaty flavor.

House Greyjoy – ‘We Do Not Sow’

House Greyjoy of Pyke is one of the Great Houses of Westeros. It rules over the Iron Islands, a harsh and bleak collection of forbidding islands off the west coast of Westeros, from the castle of Pyke on the island of the same name. Their sigil is a golden kraken on a black field.

Gjetost -  These folks say it loud and proud: We Do Not Sow. Nope. Not gonna do it. Naturally, their cheese has to be something quirky like this  Norwegian, mixed-milk brick that tastes like caramel. NB: It’ll keep well on ocean voyages.

House Lannister ‘Hear Me Roar’

House Lannister of Casterly Rock is one of the Great Houses of Seven Kingdoms, and the principal house of the Westerlands. Their seat is Casterly Rock. Their sigil is a golden lion on a field of crimson and their official motto is “Hear me roar!” However, their unofficial motto, equally well known, is “A Lannister always pays his debts.”  The Lannisters are the richest family in the Seven Kingdoms, due in large part to the many gold mines under their control, despite by no means being the largest kingdom and being rather mountainous.

Pecorino Tartufo Riserva  – Basically, this is the flashiest cheese that we could think of.  Made of raw sheep milk that’s mixed with white and black truffles in hilly Siena, Italy, this cheese is rich and nutty, much like our favorite love-hated house.

 

House Stark- “Winter is Coming”

House Stark of Winterfell is one of the great houses of Westeros and the principal noble house of the North; many lesser houses are sworn to them. In days of old they ruled as Kings of Winter; since the Targaryen Conquest they have been Wardens of the North. Their seat, Winterfell, is an ancient castle renowned for its strength. Their sigil is a grey direwolf racing across a field of white.

Flory’s Truckle – Of all the families, these guys are most prepared to age large, clothbound wheels of cheddar in their damp stone caves. This clothbound comes to us from Missouri and is full of sweetness within crumbly, bandages-wrapped exterior.

House Targaryen- “Fire and Blood”

House Targaryen is a noble family of Valyrian descent that escaped the Doom. They lived for centuries on the island of Dragonstone until Aegon Targaryen and his sisters rode their dragons to the conquest of the Seven Kingdoms. House Targaryen ruled as the Kings of Westeros for nearly 300 years, until their ouster in the Robert’s Rebellion.

Valdeòn – Spicy Spanish blue for a powerful finish! Daenerys looks amazing in blue, and this mixed-milk, leaf-wrapped round is intense, powerful, beautiful and not to be messed with.

Accompaniments: dried apricots, almonds, olives, cured meats of all sorts, roasted boar, meat pies

Drinks: All of them! Every last goblet shall be full.

Photos courtesy of: http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Noble_houses and murrayscheese.com

By Summer Coulter Babiarz and Cate Peebles

A New Batch Of Bayley Hazen!

On a recent trip to snowy Vermont, our Cavemaster tasted no fewer than 25 batches of cheeses for our stores and murrayscheese.com. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to chew it!



Bayley in the Cheese Caves.

We like to handpick each batch we sell to ensure the flavors and textures are just right.

 

 

Batches vary from season to season, and differences arise from shifts in what breed of cow the milk comes from and what those cows are fed.

 

We’re always surprised by new flavors–and sometimes we’re BLOWN AWAY! This time, we tasted an old favorite for the first time…Bayley Hazen has been on our counter for years, but not THIS Bayley.

Its creamy, cow’s milk paste is full of savory nuance: soft licorice that escalates into powerful notes of silky bacon and warm, spiced cream.

Got a big hunk of Bayley  and ready to put it to good use? Check out our Blue Cheese recipe for some helpful hints!

Smokin’ It Old School: Surry Farms Surryano

by Connor Pelcher

The first British settlers arrived in Jamestown  in 1607, bringing hope – and hogs. The pigs were left to their own devices, rapturously descending on the wild nuts and acorns scattered throughout the lush Virginia woodland.

By spring, the Jamestown colonists were keeping their hogs on an island just across the river from the Jamestown settlement. The pigs loved roaming through the thickets and streams, and the farmers could rest easy knowing they wouldn’t wander away. The island soon became known as Hog Island, and still is today, over three centuries later.

But well before English colonists came ashore, and before their hogs rooted through the swamps and sea-meadows of Virginia, Native Americans inhabited the area, smoking, salting, and drying wild fish and game, taking full advantage of that which the forests and ocean bountifully provided.

With the help of the natives, these early colonists adapted their meat preservation techniques to fit their own needs. They began rubbing the pork with salt obtained from evaporating seawater, forcing out the moisture from inside the meat, prohibiting the growth of harmful bacteria.  They finished the hams by smoking them over hickory and oak fires and leaving them to age for up to a year.  These cured hams proved to be a reliable source of income for the colonists during a time when the prices of cotton or tobacco could fluctuate wildly from season to season.

In 1926, S. Wallace Edwards, the young and affable captain of the Jamestown-Surry ferry, began selling ham sandwiches to his passengers. The ham had been cured by him, according to their generations-old family recipe, on the farm that carried his family name. Before long, the demand for his hams let him quit the ferry business and cure meat full time, eventually growing his business to a nationwide operation.

Surryano ham is still made according to the time-honored family recipe: cold-smoked for seven full days and aged for another 18 months.  The Edwards family treats their heirloom six-spotted Berkshire hogs with the love and attention that their forbears would lavish upon their own livestock; after roaming the pasture all day, they get a rich, fatty dessert of raw Virginia peanuts.

That diet and exercise lends a deep, mahogany color and nutty flavor to the amply marbled meat. The smoke adds a stunningly complex depth to the palate, complimenting the flavor of the pork without overpowering it. The plentiful streaks of taupe fat melt on your tongue and coat your mouth with flavor.

While Surryano can be melted on a flatbread pizza, rendered for a savory pasta dish, or even wrapped around melon, the true appreciation for this meat can only be achieved by eating it straight – one perfect, smoky slice at a time.

Connor’s Homemade Surryano Ravioli

Surryano Ravioli

Cloumage, Parmesan, Thyme, Brown Butter

Serves 6

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

4 eggs plus 1 yolk, for wash

2 tsp olive oil

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 tsp minced garlic

¼ lb butter

¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 10oz container Shy Brothers Cloumage

1 4oz package sliced Surry Farms Surryano Ham

 

Combine 2 ½ cups flour and salt in a stand mixer. Mix on low with a dough hook and add the eggs one at a time. Slowly add the oil. Finish by adding the rest of the flour until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes.

With a sharp chef’s knife, cut the Surryano into small squares. Mix with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Cloumage in a mixing bowl.

 Remove the dough ball from the plastic wrap and cut it in half. Dust a large portion of your counter with flour and form each half into a rectangle. Feed it through the pasta machine two or three times before reducing the setting. Continue until the machine is at its narrowest setting. The dough should be paper- thin.

Lay out the dough on the floured counter. Brush half of the sheet with the extra egg yolk. Spoon a tablespoon of the Cloumage filling onto the pasta, about two inches apart in a grid.  Fold the other half of the pasta sheet over and use your fingers to push out excess air around each mound to form a seal.  Use a knife or a crimper to cut out each ravioli.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until the milk solids separate and begin to turn brown. Add the garlic and thyme and lower the heat. Cook for about a minute and remove the sprig of thyme.

Cook the ravioli in salted, boiling water for 4-6 minutes. Serve with the brown butter sauce.