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.

Fig-et About it! A Sweet and Savory Murray’s Melt

 

Forget about your boring old lunch! We’re taking a tried and true taste-bud-pleasing combo, sweet and savory, and kicking those flavors into the stratosphere by melding together this gooey, delicious grilled cheese sandwich that is abso-figly de-swine, dahling.

Spring Brook Reading is ideal for grilled cheese (it’s recipe is based on classic Alpine melter, Raclette); made from raw cow’s milk up in Reading, VT, we’re all about the salty, nutty flavors that emerge when it warms up. Add to that thin slices of silky Surryano ham and sweet Mitica Fig Jam, and you’ve got a union of complex and complementary flavors: sweet, meaty, salty and creamy. Aw, yeah!

The Fig-et About It

Per Sandwich:

Spring Brook Reading, rind removed, sliced: 1.5 oz
Mitica Fig Jam: 1 TBS
Surryano Ham: 2 slices
Bread: 2 slices from your favorite loaf, we recommend Sourdough
Butter: lightly spread on outer sides of bread

Putting it together:

The sandwich can be made stove-top or in a panini press. Slice bread into thick slices and butter each slice on the side you’ll be toasting, then spread a thin layer of fig jam on one of the opposite sides. Layer the Surryano atop the jam (cut it or fold it to fit inside the bread), then layer your sliced Reading so that will melt evenly. Press two sides together and place in sandwich press; if you’re grilling stove-top, pre-heat your skillet on medium for a minute and place sandwich, butter-side down, flipping after 2 minutes.

In a sandwich press: cook for 4 minutes
On the stove-top: give each side 2 minutes per side, pressing lightly with a spatula or small plate

Cut, serve, enjoy!

Sides: Green apples, pickled carrots, green salad

Hankering for some more fig n’ pig tastiness on your plate? We’re right there with you! Here are few more ideas to get those piggies and figgies together, right where they belong:

* Crumbled fresh goat cheese (Vermont Creamery’s fresh Goat Logs are perfect), fresh figs (quartered), a drizzle of Mitica Acacia Honey
* Toasted baguette slices, Loire Valley Goat Cheese (Valencay, Selles Sur Cher), and slices of La Quercia Prosciutto Americano and dried Pajarero figs – superb for party platters and brunch spreads
* Big blues, like Blu di Buffala, Roquefort and Bleu du Bocage, paired with Speck, chocolate covered figs (ChocoHigos) make an impressive dessert to serve along side Port and Grappa

 

Sláinte: Irish Farmstead Cheese & Microbrew Pairings

http://smashingtopten.com

Forgo the green food-coloring and crowded pubs and taste these Hibernian curds alongside their luckiest matches, selected by Murray’s Assistant Manager and resident suds expert, John David Ryan. Trust the man–he knows his beer AND cheese.

Sláinte!

Doppelbock & Mossfield Organic

Mossfield is an organic cow’s milk cheese from Ireland. Though fairly mild and sweet, the flavor grows more intense as it ages. Complement the cheese with a doppelbock—a strong, malty German lager. These beers carry toasty notes of dark fruit, figs and brown sugar.

Suggested beers: Spaten Optimator, Schneider Aventinus, Troegs Troegenator

Saison & Ardrahan

Saisons are traditionally farmhouse ales brewed during the winter. While they tend to be complex beers with earthy, musty aromas, they are also fairly light and easily drinkable. Ardrahan is a funky, stinky Irish washed rind whose bark is worse than the bite—its paste is smooth and creamy with a nutty taste. The wheaty, grassy flavors in the beer play off the rich, creamy interior of this washed-rind cheese.

Suggested beers: Saison Dupont, Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, Ithaca Ground Break

IPA & Murray’s Irish Cheddar

It doesn’t get more classic than this: pick a great hoppy beer to go with a great Irish cheddar. This is easily my favorite pairing. That big, lactic flavor from the cheddar (that people often describe as “sharp”) holds its own against a bright, bitter beer.

Suggested beers: Dogfish Head 60 Minute, Evil Twin Falco, Ithaca Flower Power

http://brooklynbrewery.com

Coolea is a Gouda-style cheese made using a Dutch recipe by a family in Ireland. It’s got the rich, sweet, almost caramelized tones you expect from great Goudas. The slightly sweet profile of a brown ale helps to highlight all the things I love about this cheese. They both have just a little bit of sweetness, which makes them a great pairing.

Suggested beers: Anchor’s Brekle’s Brown, Smuttynose Old Brown Dog, Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown

Stout or Porter & Cashel Blue

Beware: bold flavors ahead.  The creamy, crumbly interior of Cashel has a fantastic salty punch that only a well-made bleu cheese has. Wash it down with the chocolate and coffee tones of a boozy stout.

Suggested beers: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, North Coast Old Rasputin, Hitachino Sweet Stout

 

By: John David Ryan