The Lunch Packer’s Guide to a Real Food Lunch, with Nina Planck

nina_kitchen_smile_carroll_20151-702x336Back to school time is either right around the corner or right now, depending on where you live. Lunch is officially on the to-do list.

If you’re anything like us, you really (really! really!) care about food. But, your’e also too busy to spend gobs of time slaving over a hot lunchbox. Skip the same ol’ sandwiches and upgrade to these simple, nourishing, day-making delicacies.

real food cookbookNina Planck wrote the book on Real Food. Literally. Nina is a farmer’s daughter, food writer and advocate for traditional food. (Oh, and did we mention she is the wonderful wife of Murray’s Big Cheese, Rob Kaufelt?) Plus, she lives what she writes–a life of real and wonderful food. Here’s what she’s packing in her three kids’ lunch boxes this fall:

Kids need protein. Nina and Rob’s kids eat Prosciutto di Parma, made in essentially the same way since the Romans: by massaging the hind legs of whey-fed hogs (leftover from the production of Parmigiano Reggiano) with salt, washing, then dry-aging the meat for 10-12 months, and sometimes even longer. The flavor is perfumy and sweet, beloved by kids and adults alike. We’re all about serving it for lunch with chunks of Pamigiano Reggiano, or pressed into panini. More of Nina’s protein-rich picks: boiled eggs and chef Amy’s egg salad, available at the Bleecker Street store.

blue_jasper_hill_bayley_hazenKids need calcium and high quality butterfat for vitamins A and D. Nina packs Swiss cheese and good Irish cheddar, Wisconsin cheese curds and Cambozola Blue or Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen with honey.

Kids need fresh fruit and veggies. Plus all this calls for a little crunch, so they eat pickles. We love Crisp and Co. pickles, which are snappy, friendly and complex enough for kids and grown-ups. Founder Thomas Peter of Hockessin, DE, uses his background — a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, a former career as a cancer researcher and passion for molecular gastronomy — to create pickle perfection.

Welcome back to fall, a new school year, and lots of real and delicious food to fuel your full and amazing life…and your kids’ minds, bodies and tummies.

For more real food inspiration, head to Nina’s site. Or better yet, read her books!

These Gorgeous Spanish Cheeses Selected by Enric Canut for Murray’s Will Blow your Mind

arzua_ulloaLet’s say you’re throwing a party. You’re planning to wow your guests with gorgeous cheeses, because you’re awesome. It’s our job to make you look great, and it’s a job we take incredibly seriously.

Our buyers constantly scour the world for wonderful, unique cheeses and other deliciousness. Their most recent trip to Spain was a gigantic win. They travelled with Spanish cheese superstar Enric Canut, who Food and Wine calls a “cheese revolutionary turned ambassador.” They came home with magnificent booty.

“After the Civil War and World War II, for a long time Spain was a very poor country,” Canut told Food & Wine. Technocrats associated with Opus Dei, the conservative Catholic organization that was particularly powerful under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, required industries to work to minimum production standards. “They said, ‘We don’t need producers of 50 kilos of milk a day; you work 10,000 liters a day or you don’t work at all.”

The sad outcome: Spain’s artisanal cheesemakers went out of business, and a few went underground. Spain lost many of its beloved cheeses, and much of its deep-rooted cheesemaking tradition.

But democracy returned, and with it, the craft of making small-batch cheese. Enric Canut was very much in the center of Spain’s slow yet significant cheesy rebirth. He shepherded the return of the Catalan favorite Garrotxa, and is now a sort of spokesperson for incredible cheese being made throughout the diverse regions of Spain.

He helped introduce us to some of these beauties we brought home from Spain—Enric is also a cheese matchmaker. Some of these cheeses have never set (cheese)foot into the USA until now are not available anywhere else in the country.

All that wouldn’t be so exciting if they weren’t absolute stunners. Their flavors, textures and aromas burst with personality, funk, and love. These are the products of time, place, really hard work, and big imagination.

That character shines through on any cheese plate. Break out some marcona almonds, membrillo and crusty bread—perhaps a cold sherry and some warm friends. Life is good.

Arzua Ulloa

On the banks of the Ulluo River in Galicia, where Arzua Ulloa (pictured above) is made and loved, it is sometimes called queixo do pays, meaning “cheese of the land”. A shining example of Spain’s recent cheese renaissance, Arzua Ulloa is creamy and mild, redolent of freshly warmed cream and toasted walnuts.

Arzua Ulloa is a superstar melter. Make a no-joke grilled cheese, with or without quince paste (we vote with). Or serve with honey and marcona almonds, beside a crisp Albariño.

torta_de_cabraTorta de Cabra

Who needs subtlety? Go for this farmstead, raw milk beauty from Extremadura’s Sierra Suroeste Mountains if you like your cheese briny, goaty, walnutty and fabulously bawdy. It’s handmade and carefully aged in earthenware pots. Toast Spain and break out a cask of sherry.

 

 

 

barra_maduratBauma Madurat 

Cheese pioneer Toni Chueca put goat cheese on the Catalan culinary map with Bauma Madurat. His bright, lemony log is covered in veggie ash, and it’s genius crumbled in salads and omelets. Pop open a bottle of lively Cava, or a crisp Pale Ale.

 

 

 

mahon_meloussaMahon Meloussa

It makes perfect sense that Mahon has been made since Roman times. It’s just so lovable. Is it the balance of salt and sweet toffee? Firm texture and buttery smoothness? Its sheer tastiness?

The DOP regulations allow for a maximum of 5% sheep milk to be used—a throwback to when farmers needed to use whatever milk they had on hand. Mahon DOP Meloussa is made from 95% raw cow’s milk and 5% raw sheep’s milk, and the latter delivers just a hint of briny tang. Serve with juicy figs and a hoppy IPA.

piconPicon Bejes Tresviso

Check out how pretty this is! Piquant teal veins zigzag through Picon’s luxuriously buttery paste. It’s musty and earthy in a way only European cheeses can be—bold and balanced, salty and refined. Serve on baguette with a drizzle of honey for an elegant appetizer. Pair with sherry or tawny port for dessert.

5 Cheeses that Love Champagne

moet-70566_640It’s that time of year again! Break out the bubbles, chocolate hearts, and turn up the romance. Here are some of our favorite cheese and Champagne pairings you will totally fall in love with.

Love at Mast assortment_love_at_mast_2015

We get very young wheels of Champlain Valley Triple Creme and add Mast Brother’s chocolate both inside and out before it grows its fluffy white rind. We’ve been developing and aging these guys for several years now (check out the video of how we make them here) and with the help of the Mast Brother’s, we’ve developed a cheese you can really toast to!

Cremont – Vermont Creamery

This tangy and sweet mixed-milk cheese is one of the most luscious little buttons out there. Made in Vermont by one of our all-time favorite cheesemakers, these wheels are crafted with love. While primarily made of goat’s milk, the addition of a touch of cream makes this cheese so creamy, the effervescence of Champagne is the perfect pairing.

Moses Sleeper – Jasper Hill

Yolky, slightly mushroomy and unbelievably spreadable, this Vermont Bloomy Rind is ready to be slathered all over some crusty bread, and begs to be enjoyed with something bubbly. If you’re not so big on Champagne, or just in the mood to change things up, hard cider is also a mind-blowing pairing.

Hudson Flower

00000008828_cavemaster-hudson-flowerThis cheese starts its life as Kinderhook Creek, but when we are finished with it, the transformation is hard to miss. Rolled in local herbs and hops flowers, these sheep milk wheels are then aged in our Natural Rind cave for several weeks. The end result is a deeply herbaceous flavor bomb is elevated with a crisp, citrusy bubbly.

Humboldt Fog – Cyprus Grove 

California sparkling wine has meet its match with this go-to Cali goat’s milk cheese. Humboldt Fog has become synonymous with artisan American cheesemaking, and is at the top of the list for cheese aficionados and novices alike! Uncork some bubbles to bring out this cheese’s minerality.

Cheese, Beer, and the Super Bowl: Murray’s Guide to Doing it Right

beer!

By John David Ryan, Field Merchandiser and Beer Connoisseur Extraordinaire 

It’s that time of year: Super Bowl season! We’re all talking about things like: what are Russell Wilson’s chances of leading his team to a repeat victory? What will we serve for game day snacks? Who will have the best commercials? Will the halftime show be as terrible as it always is? And what kind of Uggs will Tom Brady be wearing at the post-game press conference? These are important details—I must know!

 Cheddar & IPA

If you’re like the rest of the cool kids, then you probably drink IPAs and talk about how much you appreciate a fresh, hoppy beer with intense notes of citrus and pine. But seriously: it’s hard to beat a well-made India Pale Ale. Known for starting the American craft beer craze, these West Coast originals aren’t necessarily a beginner-friendly beer, but are probably the most widely enjoyed ale. And they’re made for pairing. Try one with a clothbound cheddar. The crumbly, acidic cheese holds its own against the bitter beer.

Beer suggestions: Ithaca Flower Power, Ballast Point Sculpin, Dogfish Head 60 Minute

Gouda & Stout

Gouda is that fun friend who we all want to show up to our party because they make it so much better. Plus, Gouda comes lots of different ways: creamy, smoked, aged, with caraway seeds, etc. I prefer an aged gouda. It’s full of crystals! Delicious, crunchy tyrosine crystals (that’s an amino acid), which typically form within cheeses that have been aged over a year. It’ll be drier, with hints of caramel, salt and butterscotch. For that reason, you need some sweetness to balance it out. Go with a big stout—something with a lot of roasty, chocolate flavors. (Don’t be afraid to add some honey to the equation if you like it really sweet.) Think of it as a boozy chocolate sea salt caramel truffle—your party guests will be amazed.

 Beer Suggestions: Alesmith Speedway, North Coast Old Rasputin, Evil Twin I Love You With My Stout

Brie & Belgian Pale Ale

It’s hard not to love a double or triple crème brie. The decadent, buttery paste just melts in your mouth. But you need something with bubbles to help cleanse your palate of all of that goodness. Traditionally, you’d pop open a bottle of champagne—but who brings Moet & Chandon to a football party? Grab a Belgian pale or golden ale—something with a cork and cage on top like champagne. It lets you know that it’s been bottle fermented and will give you lots of bubbles, which is exactly what you want with a creamy cheese like this.

Beer Suggestions: Brooklyn Local 1, Ommegang BPA, Brassiere d’Achouffe La Chouffe

Blue & Barleywine

Blue cheese can be intimidating. Heck: its got blue mold throughout the paste. But it becomes a magical food when you properly pair it. For starters, get a younger, creamier blue like Cambozola Black Label or Chiriboga or even Stilton. Then crack open a barleywine—a big ale with a ton of malty sweetness. You’ll taste toffee, dark fruits, molasses and caramel—but watch out! Because of the amount of grain used in making a barleywine, they’re typically higher in alcohol. So if Uncle Larry has a foul mouth and gets loud after a few brews, maybe steer him away from this one.

Beer Suggestions: Central Waters Kosmyk Charlie’s Y2K, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Stone Old Guardian

Alpine & Brown

When I think of paradise, it often involves a herd of cows with bells on their necks, lush pastures, snow-capped mountains, and a smelly shepherd with one of those long, curved sticks…or a beach in the Caribbean. I mean, they’ve got fruity drinks with umbrellas there, but they don’t have Alpine cheeses. Most Alpines are still made by traditional methods and are regulated to insure they are of the highest quality. But when I want a fantastic nutty Alpine cheese, I dream of Comte. I reach for Gruyere. I covet a pound of Appenzeller…and something to wash it down with it. For that, you’ll need a brown ale. Just like Alpine cheeses, brown ales are slightly sweet, nutty, and thoroughly enjoyable by everyone. They are an easy pairing that everyone at your party will love. Then too, if you have leftovers, you can always whip up some fondue!

 Beer Suggestions: Anchor Brekle’s Brown, Bells Best Brown, Smuttynose Old Brown Dog

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Party in a Box! Murray’s 2014 Holiday Playlist

You’ve got your cheeses, you’ve paired them with your favorite goodies, and now it’s time to get the party started. We like things funky at Murray’s, which is why we’ve put together some of our favorite party-starting, good-times-making, boogie-ready tracks. Whether you like to sit back and relax or get on up while you enjoy your cheese, this mix is sure to make you feel good. Just like cheese always does.