Raves From The Caves: October 15, 2013

By:Tess McNamara

As fall settles in, all sorts of exciting, new, seasonal flavors start to pop up on the cheese counter. Read below as Tess tells us what is tasting especially autumnal.

Greensward:  Wrapped in spruce bark with a plump rusty, orange rind.  Yeah, that’s what you see, but upon entry to the caves these little boozy, aromatic buggers are all white with frustrating grooves in their rinds.  To get that layer of white mold off we scrub the grooves tediously with teeny nail brushes, a little bit of Ithaca beer, and a healthy sense of humor.    With a little teamwork, our forearms will all be uniform, and this washed rind reserve product will continue to be available both behind the counter and online.  Ample stacks at the moment, all at various mouth-watering stages.

Vermont Shepherd: Guess who’s back in town? The seasonal sensation from Major Farms — one of the oldest and most celebrated farmstead cheese operations — that’s who. From about April until November, cheesemaker, David Major, makes rounds of Vermont Shepard (a.k.a.) Verano, as his herd grazes on pasture.  We’ll have this herbaceous, caramel studded, buttery wonder for a short period so come by the shop and give it a try before it get snagged up!

 Malvarosa:  This Valencia favorite was first made in an effort to preserve the local sheep breed Guirra.  We fully support this endeavor, especially after tasting this semi-soft, sweet, buttery representation of sheep’s milk.  This interestingly shaped cheese takes on the mold of its cheese cloth, which is wrapped tightly around the curd and knotted at the top.  Grab a knife and slice off a hunk and savor the rind for more piquant, barnyard notes.

Rob Kaufelt Talks American Cheese

Late last week I had the chance to catch-up with Rob Kaufelt, the owner of Murray’s, to chat about the current state of the American cheese industry. Rob has had his fingers firmly at the pulse of the international, and American cheese market for the last 20 + years.Rob has seen American cheesemakers pop up across the country, and has played major  role in these small producers sucess on American cheese counters. He shared a few interesting words with me on the past, present, and future of what American cheese looks like. With October being American Cheese Month, his words seem especially important…

When I first judged at the annual American Cheese Society conference – I think it was 1990 – there were around 75 cheeses entered in the competition in all cheese categories. I’d say about a dozen were good. This year there were almost two thousand entries and my staff members that attended said maybe three dozen were notable.

The good news is we have seen the birth of the artisan cheese movement in America reach adolescence. The bad news is that, like many adolescents, the industry has a lot of growing up to do. We need to learn how to make good cheese consistently and safely. We need to market our cheeses better. We certainly need to educate our customers if we are to move them away from industrialized crap to the cheeses we love. And  we need better production methods and distribution to help bring costs down so more people can afford the good stuff.

The best news is that the word is spreading, and those of us that chose this rather strange career, whether as makers or mongers, have reason to be proud of what we’ve done, and to eagerly anticipate what we will do in the future.

In 2013, these words ring especially true. This year we have seen tighter FDA and USDA standards, and pressure on American cheese makers to adopted greater safety standards. Internally at Murray’s, food safty was a major buzzword this year. As we grow to become a national cheese retailer, understanding every possible thing we can do along the supply chain to insure the saftey of our product is viewed as critical.

Education is a major facet of the cheese industry, that starts at the retail level. And down at our flagship on Bleecker Street, we are taking big steps to expand our cheese education mission  by building a second classroom space! This will allow for a more diverse curriculum, and allow us to continue to educate American cheese lovers.

Over the next few years, we plan for Murray’s to fufill the mission Rob layed out 20 years ago. We want to be the household name in cheese. While doing so, we are excitied to continue selling and promoting the many American producers we have grown to love over the years, while picking up some new ones along the way.  October and American Cheese Month is the perfect time to reflect on how far American cheesemakers have come, and the exciting  future that is right around the corner.

Raves From The Caves: September 23, 2013

By:Tess McNamara

The crew in the caves have been working hard over the last few weeks to get our favorite fall friend, Little Big Apple back on the counter. Read on to check out how it, and a few more varieties are maturing in the caves!

Little Big Apple:  So what if we start our morning with a nip of apple brandy and a Champlain Valley Triple Crème?  Don’t judge.  As of late we’re pumping out, Little Big Apple, a fall special that begins with a triple crème from Vermont, that we then wrap tenderly in brandy soaked apple leaves plucked from the trees in Warwick, NY.  Many thanks to a team of leaf picking warriors from Murray’s that devoted an entire Saturday to the cause.  Get ready for this little bundle of butter and citrusy booze to knock you into fall.

Abbaye de Belloc:  Another Basque sheep’s milk cheese that lurks in the shadows of its counterparts in the Alpine cave, but we’re here to tell you it might be a little smaller in format, and look different with its rattlesnake skin grey/yellow/brown combination rind, but it’s really top notch in flavor.  Make a cut to discover a rich, creamy, grassy, butter laden paste.  The caramelized finish will keep you coming back for more.

Isle of Mull:  The finish line is in sight for this drum of clothbound cheddar from Scotland.  Get it before it doesn’t show up on our counters again for some time.  If you’re a fan of horseradish and bitter dandelion greens together with sour cream pockets, this is your animal.

Torus:   Softer and more doughy than usual, Torus is a little bit more delicate in texture but consistently bright, tangy, and yeasty in flavor.  Our favorite lemony ring, if you will.  Add some honey, or feel free to spread this temperamental donut on crostini with a savory counterpart to see what the runny creamline will do.

Raves From the Caves: August 27, 2013

By:Tess McNamara

Ahh the Murray’s cheese caves! The best place in New York City for cheese to take some time to age and really up the funk. We consider the caves a sort of day spa for cheese. They get the care they need to be all that they can be! “Raves from the caves” is a new, weekly post that will feature what is ripe and ready on the cheese counter, and what good stuff is in the pipeline. 

C-Local:  We’re working our way through a fresh batch with a bright, tacky rind and young, but daring cream line.  The aroma is dank and the flavor full.  Expect more grilled lamb and savory notes to trump those bushels mixed berries.  At least for now.

Greensward:  The batch released last week is still exquisite and a new tower of nearly 300 has been through its first wash.  The rind on the oldest batch is darker orange with pockets of woodsy brown near the spruce bark; the paste luscious and creamy, tasting like herb butter, roasted veggies, and the wind swirling through a forest canyon.

 

Hudson Flower

Hudson Flower: Hudson Flower for everyone! As the fall breezes creep in, everyone should be psyched to bring home a delicious round of fall foliage in the form of orange and yellow mold adorning most rinds of Hudson Flower. Cold storage continues to hold the cream line in check.  Count on gamey, earthy notes teamed with buttery, tangy pockets.

Torus:   Our little doughman is firmer and more dapper this week, having benefitted from a slightly altered aging cycle.  We plated torus and let the batch experience the tender awakening of the drying room, followed by an indulgent slumber in the bloomy rind cave, and finally some tough, better-shape-up love from the mini-cold storage unit.  The creamline is thin, yet decadent and even, and the paste yeasty, zippy, and bright.  At room temperature the geotrichum rind – now sturdy and taunt – will relax into a velvety coat.

ChevrotThis pocket sized brainy drum is with us in abundant quantities, ready to surprise goat cheese lovers all over with its lemony, cakey, zippy profile.  Consider mini Chevrot a filler for the office donut run.  Why grab one when you can take a dozen to the office and smother them in honey and jam? 

Roquefort:  Oh Roquefort, oh Roquefort, oh how I love your deep blue pockets and your gritty butter laden paste.  Come home with me and make my nostrils flare and the back of my throat tingle.  You are classically radiant.

 

Our Favorite Things: 10 Nom Nom Sandwiches for Back to School

By:Robin Minkoff

Autumn is nearly upon us, and in New York City that means we’re thisclose to the end of: the Bloomberg Era, the bare midriff trend, and easy weekend parking.  But!  We’re getting ready for school: picking up new shoes, notebooks, and a lunchbox.  Here’s a guide to yummy sandwiches you can put together in a snap!

  1. Taleggio with Fig Jam and Proscuitto
  2. Irish Cheddar with Big Spoon Peanut Butter and sliced green apple
  3. Big Spoon Peanut Almond Butter with Linden Tremblay Honey
  4. Aged English Cheddar with Granbiscotto Cooked Prosciutto and Sonoma Brinery Bread & Butter Pickles
  5. Big Spoon Peanut Butter with Harvest Song Sour Cherry Jam
  6. VBC Peppered Goat Chevre with Genoa Salami and greens
  7. VBC Plain Goat Chevre with Mortadella and McClure’s Garlic Dill Chips (put ‘em right there in the sandwich!)
  8. Mountain Gorgonzola with Due Vittore Balsamic Vinegar and Proscuitto
  9. Appenzeller with Ham and Sonoma Brinery Spicy Bread & Butter Pickles
  10. Mountain Gorgonzola with Linden Tremblay Honey

Don’t forget the condiments!  Check out Sir Kensington Mayonnaise and Beaufor Mustard.