Get Grillin!

Congratulations, you have made it. It’s officially grilling season, which means there are tons of new Murray’s products to try this Memorial Day and throughout the summer. Whether you’re grilling on your fire escape, in the park, or in your back yard, we’ve got the stuff you need.

What screams warm weather, relaxation, and the American dream better than the hot dog? While I admit to shoveling down a street dog on occasion, the folks at Brooklyn Hot Dog Company are whipping up some outer borough dogs that are out of this world. These dogs put the street vendors to shame. Deep flavor, super juicy and made from 100% beef – these franks are begging to be grilled! Not a fan of the dog? That’s OK, try some of Brooklyn Cured’s new sausages for the grill. With a wide variety of flavors including Andouille, Bratwurst and Chicken with Apple, these guys have all of the bases covered. Brooklyn is really reigning the grill market this year, but with products this good, its easy to see why.

Going the hamburger route? We’ve got you covered. Naturally, we love our cheeseburgers, and the options are endless. Right now, I have really been feeling the Alpine style of cheese on my burgers. These cheeses melt perfectly, and there are a wide variety of flavor profiles that can be achieved. Like caramelized onions? Scharfe Maxx, will add a distinct rich oniony flavor to your patty. Feeling a little bit funky? Try some of Meadow Creek’s Mountaineer, which will be sure to take your burgers to a new level.

And don’t forget the condiments for all your grilling needs. Sir Kensington makes some great small-batch ketchup that has a much deeper flavor than store-bought ketchups. Notes of onion, cayenne, honey, and coriander will have you scooping this stuff on by the spoonful.

McClure’s is yet another Brooklyn made product that really brings it this grilling season. Their line of spicy and garlic relish are mandatory at any cook out. They also have a great selection of pickles for munching on, and a Bloody Mary mix that will make you memorial day memorable (it’s also  been know to have the exact opposite effect).

If you don’t have time to shop in store, or live outside of the city you can purchase our Murray’s Griller Pack with everything you need online and get it delivered right to your door.  Whichever way you decide to go, grill hard and stay cool out there!

Underrated Cheese

By: Lauren McDowell


Many people visit the world famous Murray’s cheese counter to taste something they’ve never tasted before, or to pick up something undiscovered by most. Here are a few of our favorite selections that are often overlooked.

Salva Cremasco – This Italian cow may be the absolute best value in our cheese case. As a cheese lover (and starving student) it’s hard for me to contain my giddy-ness over a supremely and lacticly delicious cheese that doesn’t obliterate my food budget for the week! The rainbow hued rind gives this cube a funkiness that belies its smooth, mild interior.

Cashel Blue – Time and again, we all look to the classic French blues when perusing the blue-molded section of Murray’s cheeses. I’m guilty of it as well, but when I fondly recall a short-lived and glorious semester spent abroad in Galway, Ireland, I reach for the oft-forgotten Cashel Blue. Excellent with a juicy pear or ripe red apple, the creamy and pleasantly mild blue sings with cucumber slices on dark toast, paired with a roasty Guinness, or an Irish whiskey.

Pecorino Foglie de Noce- A rustic cheese from the capital of food in Italy, Emilia-Romagna, these small wheels are covered in walnut leaves and aged in barrels, imparting milky, nutty flavors.

Sheep’s milk cheeses frequently leave you wanting in flavor, but not so with this crumbly wheel, at home both on a cheese board or grated over your pasta instead of the ubiquitous Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino romano.

Pata Cabra – Mild-mannered and semi-firm, this Spanish goat’s milk cheese will surprise you every time. Aged in Murray’s caves, each log is unique with varied levels of tang and pungency, but always anchored by the bright white interior and citrus essence characteristic of goat’s milk cheese. Especially for those who shy away from the more intense washed rinds (think Alsatian Munster), this totally snackable and always underrated selection challenges the palate in the most delightful of ways.

Chevre Noir – A goat cheddar, you ask incredulously? Never. Oh yes, a goat cheddar from Quebec, this bright white block all dressed up in black defies expectations. Grassy and fruity, use it as you would any cheddar for an elevated and creamy experience that even the most ardent of vegetarians can love (the fromagerie up in Canada uses microbial rennet!).

Gorgonzola Cremificato—A question for all my blue cheese-loving friends: if you could eat blue cheese ice cream, would you? If the answer is yes-of-course-no-duh-where-can-I-get-that, you’ve probably been overlooking the luscious, creamy, just-right sweetness of this spoonable cow’s milk Italian blue.  Not to be confused with its more piquant relative Mountain Gorgonzola or less sweet but mighty strong Gorgonzola dolce Artigianale, this is a classic you need to get to know or re-visit.

Brebirousse d’Argental—We get a lot of customers in the Bleecker St. store who come in looking for a spreadable cheese they can nosh on with a bit of baguette.

It seems that everyone knows about creamy cow’s milk favorites, but there are less who are acquainted with this equally wonderful French sheep cheese. This gooey, complex darling boasts a grassy, tangy meaty flavor as unique as its lovely bright orange rind. This is a great pick for cheese plates when you want a cheese to taste as good as it looks!

Brunet—Beneath the unassuming white rind on each round of Brunet one discovers an opus of rich, tangy and woodsy flavored perfection—an accomplishment courtesy of the tender-lovin’ care it was given as it aged in Murray’s Caves.  The interior cake-like texture even comes with its own icing in the creamline. Two textures+many flavors=one great cheese.

Tomme du Bosquet—For the cheese lover who wants a goat that packs a punch without the stinkiness of a washed-rind, here’s your new favorite! This semi-soft raw goat’s milk cheese recalls a strong, earthy pungency reminiscent of a walk through the woods on a cool autumn evening. If that analogy sounds a tad over-the-top romantic, it’s because you haven’t tried this cheese yet!

Pawlet—While washed-rind cheeses traditionally come from Western Europe, rich Jersey cow milk makes American-made Pawlet (from Vermont’s Consider Bardwell Farms) a standout in its own right.  The bright flavor and creamy texture will appeal to many palates, and the extra aging in Murray’s caves brings a buttery funk to the table you won’t find anywhere else.

Boozy Dessert Idea: Beer and Ice Cream

Kevin Brooks is the resident beer geek at Murray’s Bleecker St.

Not the first thing that comes to mind, right?  Who would drop a scoop of chocolate ice cream into pint of IPA or pour a cold one onto a banana split? Garnish their Corona with an ice cream sandwich, maybe?

While I might be on to something with that last one, my point is that the pairing doesn’t exactly leap to mind. Beer goes with the steak dinner, while the ice cream is the cold treat afterwards, right? I mean it’s not like beer works with everything.

Oh, but it does.

I was first exposed to the pleasure of beer and ice cream during a visit to Weyerbacher Brewery in Easton, Pennsylvania. Their imperial stout, Old Heathen, is a punch in the mouth, full of bitter roastiness and intense coffee flavor. I was savoring my fourth sample cup when the bartender suggested pouring it over vanilla ice cream. When I indicated my surprise, she said it was even better with coffee ice cream. My wife and I couldn’t resist and as soon as we got home, we discovered that the bartender knew her stuff. The creaminess of the ice cream cut the bitterness of the beer, allowing the coffee notes to stand clearly on their own, which paired with the vanilla in the ice cream quite nicely.

Now, given the spectrum of flavors available in the brewing world coupled with the nearly limitless possibilities of ice cream flavors, what other pairings work? Surely we can do better than boring old vanilla. (not that there is anything wrong with vanilla., we’ll get to that later)

One of my favorite trends in brewing right now is the ascendance of smoked beer. Smoked porters, pilsners, straight up rauchbiers; I love them all. However, the originals are still the best, and the Schlenkerla brewery in Bamberg has been making smoked beers for hundreds of years. I just recently enjoyed their oak smoked dopplebock, Eiche, which has a milder smoky kick and a rich, chewy sweetness that just begs to be drunk.

So, when I had the pleasure of trying Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s Salted Caramel, I knew I had found a match made in heaven. Sweet, salty, smoky… not just delicious, but alliterative as well. I could also have added creamy and luscious, but that would have broken my S streak. But this sundae pairing shows how satisfying a good savory on sweet pairing can be.

That’s all well and good, I hear you say, but what about that IPA you mentioned in the beginning?

Back in my IPA post, I wrote about Southern Tier’s Oak Aged Unearthly, a shockingly strong IPA that had been de-fanged by a lengthy slumber in an oak barrel. It was the surprise of the tasting, as its lack of hop bite left behind a big, caramelly malt bomb with a solid underlying bitterness. “Pairs well with chocolate,” I wrote, perhaps foreseeing this very problem.

As with any pairing, it’s important to find something with an equally intense flavor that can stand up to the beer. How about Steve’s Brooklyn Black-Out? That sounds intense, let’s see… milk chocolate ice cream swirled with Ovenly’s chocolate stout cake pieces and dark chocolate pudding. So that’s chocolate with chocolate, with chocolate swirled in. Yeah. That sounds pretty intense. The beer and the ice cream work surprisingly well together, with the beer’s bitterness teaming up with the bitter notes of the chocolate while the heavy chocolate sweetness stands out, amplified and accented by the beer’s caramel backbone.

So there’s your IPA and ice cream sundae. Done and done.

But are sundaes the only option? There are so many other ice cream treats out there. What about that most indulgent of sweet treats, the root beer float? It already has beer right there in the name, surely there must be a way to capture that same sweet, creamy, vanilla and spice deliciousness?

The first step is finding a beer with the right flavor and the right amount of residual sweetness to pair with a melting scoop of vanilla ice cream. Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout is a perfect choice: The addition of lactose, a sugar that yeast cannot ingest, leaves this stout with a mellow sweetness and a creamy mouthfeel. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ve got everything you want: An alcoholic root beer float with that fantastic melted ice cream/beer slurry. A perfect combination for those long winter nights at home.

Beer and ice cream: two great things that go great together. While hardly the obvious pick, a little experimentation will reward you with some surprising flavor combos, as well as a few raised eyebrows when you up end the beer bottle over the giant sundae you’ve just put out.

Ice cream and beer are currently available at our Bleecker location only.

These Are a Few of My Favorite [Murray’s] Things!

The holidays are HERE, and with them come a slew of new goodies for me to become obsessed with. Here are just a few of my favorite new things.

2-Year Aged Comte

Throughout the year, we have customers who venture to the cheese counter, inquiring about the status of our elusive 2-year aged Comte.  More often than not, we must sadly shake our heads and reveal the bitter truth—the time for this seasonal cheese hasn’t come.  But rejoice, fromage connoisseurs! This raw cow’s milk beauty is back and better than ever. You may recall from a previous post the story of our buyer’s journey to retrieve this marvel of the cheese world.  After tasting what was specially chosen just for Murray’s, I fell in love. I brought some home, ate until I couldn’t eat any more, and then had to have just…one…more…bite. It is the perfect snacking cheese—nutty, fruity, the perfect blend of savory and sweet, with a semi-firm but creamy texture that melts like butter in your mouth.  Though it’s hard to improve on perfection, this chameleon cheese pairs with almost any assortment of jams, honeys, butters or charcuterie. You won’t believe it until you taste for yourself—but we’ve found the perfect cheese.

Holiday gift note: If you can stand to share this seasonal alpine-style cheese, someone will love you dearly.

 

Rush Creek Reserve

Artisanal. American. Raw milk. My interest is piqued. But what’s so special about Rush Creek Reserve? For one thing, it’s made by Uplands Cheese Company in Wisconsin (the same folks who make award-winning Pleasant Ridge Reserve), who believe in a grass-fed pasture diet and seasonal herding for their cows. This means the animals are happy and healthy, which leads to better, more flavorful milk (and of course, better cheese!).  As for the cheese itself, Rush Creek Reserve sports a lovely spruce bark belt around its soft, ripe exterior—inspired by the famous French Vacherin Mont d’Or.  The result—oh, the result!—a delicate, woodsy, beefy paste that sings on the tongue and impresses your friends at holiday parties.

Holiday gift note: This seasonal cheese only comes from autumn milk, so its availability is extremely limited. Get it before someone beats you to it!

 

 

Societe-Original Seashore Honey

Most people know that honey makes a terrific complement to most varieties of cheese, but fewer think about why that is. Like cheese, honey is fascinating because its flavors vary based on terroir—the plants and flower nectar the honeybee collects determines the taste of its resulting honey (floral, fruity, nutty, etc.) in the same way that a ruminant’s diet will influence the taste of its milk and cheese. So I think we can agree—honey is a magical thing. But this honey? Magic becomes divine.  In addition to the sweet, floral taste (courtesy of French Canadian seaside summer pollen) the texture is creamy, smooth, and nougat-like.  Just as a cheesemaker or affineur can shape the texture of a cheese, the makers of Societe-Original whip the already delicious raw foundation to create light, fondant perfection. Picture coming soon, but trust me – it is a beaut!!!

Holiday gift note: Need a gift for that hard-to-please foodie? Stop looking. This is it!

 

Jeni’s Oatmeal Crème Ice Cream Sandwich

photo courtesy of jeni’s splendid ice creams!

Before you get your hopes up, no, sadly we can’t sell this one online! But if you’re ever near our Bleecker Store, you’re in for a treat. Jeni’s Ice Cream could convert even the most adamant ice cream opposition (which can’t actually exist, right?)—because it’s that good. The milk is sourced from Snowville creamery grass-fed cows, and the ice cream is made from scratch with all-natural ingredients.  So if the quality of Jeni’s Ugandan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is amazing, and the flavor is out of this world, how might you improve on a tried-and-true formula? Stick that ice cream between some of the greatest oatmeal cookies ever created! Flavored with molasses and cinnamon, the soft oat-filled cookies soak in the cool, rich vanilla ice cream to create the perfect dessert.  Jeni’s other Ice Cream Sandwiches are worth trying, but in my opinion, this Oatmeal Crème can’t be beat!

Holiday gift note: Santa prefers Jeni’s Ice Cream Sandwiches.

 

La Quercia Acorn Tamworth Coppa

I must admit that I hold a soft place in my heart for Iowa-based prosciutto company La Quercia and its products.  After living in the Italian province of Parma (yes, the Parma of prosciutto renown) for several years, the husband and wife team from Iowa decided to bring premium quality prosciutto to their own state and country. From what started as simply prosciutto sourced from local, sustainable producers, La Quercia grew to include a plethora of cured meats. And these meats are incredible!  The La Quercia product I can’t get enough of right now is the Acorn Tamworth Coppa. Tamworth pigs from Missouri spend their last three months foraging acorns in the Ozarks from oak and hickory trees, which leads to a sweet and nutty flavor and silky, melt-in-your-mouth texture.  Coppa comes from the top of the pig’s shoulder, which ensures a lovely meat to fat ratio, evidenced by the beautiful white marbling on the cut.  This is the perfect meat to pair with cheese or adorn a cold plate—and (here comes the blasphemy) this American-made acorn coppa is miles above the Italian original in taste and texture. Currently only available in NYC stores.

Holiday gift notes: Local. Sustainable. Delicious. Pork.

 

Lauren McDowell is a cheesemonger who moonlights as a food scholar, earning a graduate degree in Food Studies at New York University one bite research paper at a time.

Who’s Afraid of IPA’s?

Kevin Brooks is a cheesemonger and self-proclaimed beer geek. This Saturday he’ll be leading a seminar at the Craft Beer Festival in NYC. The beers in this post are all available at Murray’s on Bleecker Street.

IPAs are intimidating.

It’s true. Big, strong and intensely bitter, IPAs are the beer that lets hops shine. Stinking of citrus and pine, they explode on the palate and, if you’re not used to it, they can really scare you off. I remember once in my callow youth when I left most of a pint of Sierra Nevada sitting on the bar, possibly thinking, “that was gross, it probably went bad.” Oh foolish past me!

The granddaddy of IPAs was developed in Burton on Trent in the 1800s. At the time, the British were having difficulties delivering beer to colonies in India.  A long hot sea voyage wasn’t good for the beer, and it was arriving spoiled and useless. Knowing of hops’ preservative qualities and that a stronger beer would be better suited to the trip, brew masters upped the amount of hops they added to the beer, resulting in a strongly bitter brew. It was pale ale destined for India, so they called it India Pale Ale, or an IPA. The name stuck.

There is a massive range of flavors and aromas in the world of hops, and brewers continue to find new ways to unlock ever more bitter and intense brews. Dry-hopping, wet-hopping, hop backs, double hopping, continuous hopping, bar-side hop infusers, all working to wrest more flavor and aroma out of this humble flower. Some hops are added for bitterness, some for flavor, some for aroma, and different kinds of hops are added at different parts of the boil. It’s all very involved.

To ease into the world of hops, I’ve selected three beers that raise us up through levels of intensity. So starting off we have an English IPA, Coniston Brewery’s Bluebird Bitter. English IPAs are milder than their American cousins; they’re hopped less, and English hops are milder, more floral, and less assertive than American hops. They also have cute names like Fuggle. Bluebird stands as a very drinkable, well balanced ale with a sweet backbone, lovely floral aromas, and light bitterness. I like this one paired with a mellow English cheddar with a similarly silly name, Tickler Cheddar!

Next up was an emblematic American IPA, Green Flash’s West Coast IPA. American hops tend to be more towards the piney and citric side of things, and American brewers tend to throw a whole lot more of them into the kettle, making for much bigger, more hop forward beers. The West Coast IPA smells like fresh cut grapefruits in the middle of a pine forest, while the flavor is big and citrusy, but still balanced, with a lingering bitterness to let you know what you are drinking. It’s also a touch stronger, at 7.2% abv, so be warned. For cheese picks, this is amazing with the hops-coated Cavemaster Reserve Hudson Flower.

And now for the bitterest of the bitter, an Imperial IPA. Imperial is a bit of a buzzword in brewing these days, and generally just means “more”, as in “more hops, more booze, more flavor.” Southern Tier’s Unearthly Imperial IPA is no joke, and one of my favorites. Enormously bitter, but with a big malt backbone supporting it, making for an eye-watering, yet still drinkable beer. But Murray’s doesn’t have the standard Unearthly; we carry the Oak Aged Unearthly, which has spent the better part of a year chilling in an oak barrel.

What a difference a year (trapped in a barrel) makes! As beer ages, hop flavor and aroma is the first thing to fade. First the aromas fade to nothing, then the flavors dwindle, leaving behind just the characteristic bitterness. The Oak Aged Unearthly has mellowed out considerably. No piney, no citrus, just a big chewy bitterness that isn’t overwhelming. And when you take a big, balanced IPA and remove the hop character, you’re left with a big, sweet, malty beer. The level of caramelly sweetness is really surprising, and so is how well it pairs with some Mast Bros. Sea Salt chocolate. Who would have thought you could drink an IPA with dessert?

Are IPAs intimidating? Sure. But as with anything else, if you give it half a chance, you’ll find some real pleasant surprises in there.