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


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.

8 Delicious Gifts for 8 Tasty Nights

Finding that perfect gift for Hanukkah is a task that drives the best of us meshugenah. So many different people to shop for, so many nights! Here are our top 8 picks for 8 super tasty Hanukkah treats!


1. Epoisses

Perfect for that little sibling who’s really a stinker (I’m talking to you, sis). She made your parents proud with her law school, her perfect GPA, and her doctor boyfriend. Tell her how much she really stinks.

assortment_stilton_set_gift_20152. Stilton Crock

We’ve all got that terminally single, chronically depressed aunt who maybe overdoes it on the tranquilizers and vodka. Get rid of her blues with something blue. This classic English blue comes in adorable little crock!

chocolate_sweets_murrays_munchies_two3. Munchies

Forget about Gelt, give the kids something that they’ll actually want to win in this year’s dreidel games. Alternatively, keep these addictive candy bars for yourself and let the kids eat the crappy stuff.

oil_vinegar_due_vittorie_balsamic4. Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar

Dealing with the stress of the holidays (in-laws, anyone?) is enough to put any dad in a sour mood. Give him a gift with a flavor that’ll match how he feels! Due Vittorie is hands-down one of the best vinegars we’ve tried, with deep, bold red fruit flavors.

chocolate_sweets_salty_road_taffy5. Salty Road Taffy

We all have fond memories of Bubbie digging into the nether-regions of her pocketbook to pull out a chewy, decades-old wad of salt water taffy. Up her game with these small-batch confections, guaranteed to make her platz.

honey_jam_spreads_confiture_de_cerises_noires6. Black Cherry Confit

Even though she’s the maven of the guilt trip, your mother is still the sweetest woman in your life. Give her something equally as sweet! These cherries pair perfectly with a creamy brie, or make for an indulgent ice cream topping.

honey_jams_spreads_mikes_hot_honey7. Mike’s Hot Honey

You know that uncle that never shuts up? Here’s a way to get that trap closed, for at least a few minutes. While it might not be a permanent fix, you’ll be able to get a few words in. This honey is the perfect blend of spicy and sweet.

oil_vinegar_olive_oil_castillo8. Castillo de Canena Smoked Olive Oil

Grandpa’s olfactory might not be what it used to (hence the overwhelming smell of moth balls and Old Spice), so give him something he can actually taste! This flavor-forward olive oil has a nice smokiness that’s hard to miss!

For our other gift suggestions, be sure to check out Murray’s 2014 Holiday Gift Collections! And Happy Hanukkah!