Eat Cheese, Drink Summer Beers & Be Merry

By John David Ryan

 

I love beer. I drink it year ‘round. But it’s 90 degrees outside right now. I have a cabinet full of barrel-aged quads and stouts–and most of them will still be there when the leaves start to change. No one’s hammering a Founders KBS or Thirsty Dog Wulver right now. You’re drinking session ales. You’re drinking freshly hopped beer. You’re drinking plenty of pale.

But it’s prime time for cheese, too! Cows and sheep and goats across the world are eating plenty of lush, fresh, green grass. They’re turning it into creamy milk and cheese-makers are producing some of their finest products.

Let’s put the two together.

Go grab some Bijou from Vermont Creamery. Seriously. Do it right now. And while you’re out picking it up, grab a sixer of Bell’s Brewery’s Oberon. It’s the perfect summer wheat beer–not too sweet, not too spicy, and not too heavy. Or, if you want to keep it all in Vermont, maybe try some Otter Creek Fresh Slice. It complements the tangy, metallic flavors in Allison Hooper’s super creamy take on crottin. Bijou is a perfect little button of goat’s milk cheese.

Few things intimidate curd nerds like washed rind cheese. And even the most serious of hop heads can be turned off by a sour beer. Fret not! You can pair the two and simultaneously overcome your fears. Cato Corner Farm washes its Hooligan in brine until it reaches stinky orange perfection. Try it with Westbrook’s Gose or Evil Twin’s Nomader Weisse. The tart, acidic beer helps bring out the creaminess of the cheese.

Everyone loves cheddar. Everyone. If you don’t like cheddar, then you probably don’t like cute kittens, rainbows or laughing babies either. Seriously–what’s not to love about crumbly, intense cheddar? And if you want the best cheddar in the world, you’re probably going to grab Montgomery’s Clothbound English cheddar. And if you are going to pair it with beer, you’re probably going to get an IPA. And if you’re going to get an IPA, you want a hoppy, American beer. And that’s why you’re going to buy some Ithaca Flower Power or Founders’ All Day IPA.

Finally, we come to the easy drinkers. The pale ales. The pilsners. The lagers. Get you some Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale or Stillwater Classique or maybe a Pinkus Ur-Pils. Anyone can love a lighter beer, and they pair beautifully with tome-style cheeses. My current favorite is Margot. This fine Italian cheese is made by 4th generation cheese makers, and it’s washed in BEER! The hint of hops on the outside sets off the flavors of the fudgy interior.

Eat (cheese), drink and be merry.

Summer Snacks: Peppablues!

By: Summer Babiarz

This week my Weight Watchers leader emphasized getting a lot of flavor into your food. I see her point. I do tend to graze less throughout the day if I have had something that is truly flavorful and satisfying. So with the idea of big bold flavors in mind I would like to introduce to you the glistening, fire engine red, juicebombs that are Peppadews! These little guys pack a lot of punch with very few calories. They are sweet, spicy and tangy all at the same time. If you stuff these hallow little wonders with almost any firm or crumbly cheese your taste buds will thank you

In honor of the upcoming 4th of July holiday, I have chosen to pack them to the brim with Rogue River Blue from Oregon.  Rogue River Creamery  has been a leader in American artisan cheesemaking for over 80 years. This cheese in particular is a monger favorite behind the counter at Murray’s because it is punchy and yet well balanced. It doesn’t hurt that it is soaked in pear brandy and presents its leaf-wrapped gorgeouness on a cheese board in a way that makes you look like a rockstar. Whatever the reasons- professional cheesemongers love this cheese and it’s no accident.

Peppablues!

Inspired by the scarcity of great blue cheese in America, Founder of Rogue River Blue Tom Vella and his wife traveled to France in the early 1950s in search of Roquefort. Mr. Vella was able to win over the highly secretive Roquefort Association with  his charming personality and bilingual education. He was presented with a gold pass signed by all functionaries of the Roquefort Society. This granted him access to study every step of Roquefort-making from the functionality of farms to aging cheese in the limestone caves at Cambalou.  With that knowledge he founded this American cheesemaking powerhouse  and they seem to only get better at balancing these big bold flavors.

Peppablues are a healthy and smart appetizer for a picnic or BBQ and they fit right in with all their red, white and blue glory.

 

Peppablues (3.5 points, 2 servings = 7 points total)

2 oz Rogue River Blue

10 ea Peppadews

Greek To Me

As soon as summer hits, the cravings begin. Nothing does hot nights, and summer vibes better than watermelon. I mean, what says “dang, it’s hot”  better than slicing into a juicy, sticky, sweet melon? Few things. Of course, since Murray’s is a cheese shop, we had to find a way to sneak some dairy in there.

Feta. the perfect pairing. Salty and crumbly, not only does it play well with the flavors of watermelon but it also provides a nice textural change. Feta is a Greek sheep’s milk cheese, made basically by compressing fresh cheese curds and brining them for preservation. The brine makes this cheese slightly salty. I don’t know if this is something that you encounter but in Tennessee, where I grew up, watermelon was nothing without a dash of salt.

While the pre-crumbled feta is pretty common, try some of the real stuff from Greece. It will usually come in brine, and has a lot more acid, lemony flavor than what we are used to seeing. Of course, it is available at Murray’s.

Our Friends over at Real Greek Feta were nice enough to share this recipe for a super easy watermelon and Real Greek Feta salad. Perfect for those hot, lazy summer nights. Also, follow them on Twitter, and Facebook for the latest in all things feta.

Watermelon and Real Greek Feta Salad

Serves 4, 10 minutes

¼ lb Real Greek Feta, cubed

½ watermelon, chunks

½ red onion, thinly sliced

4 TBSP balsamic vinegar

1. Mix Real Greek Feta, watermelon chunks, and thinly sliced onions
2. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve

Summertime: Make the Most of Your Mozz!

Sean Kelly is our all-star monger who will be competing at the Cheesemonger Invitational this Saturday! Don’t forget to VOTE FOR HIM on Facebook!

At Murray’s when we think of summer cheese we think FRESH! While we always love our stinky, nutty, firm and aged cheese friends, fresh cheeses go with warm weather picnics and sunlight like an oyster stout pairs with a strong washed rind. (Hint: that is an awesome pairing) But who is the undisputed king of the fresh cheeses? The noble mozzarella, of course.

Mozzarella is a proud member of the pasta filata, or “stretched curd”, family of cheeses, meaning that the curds are kneaded together, stretched, and re-kneaded repeatedly until the desired texture is achieved. It’s this process that is responsible for mozzarella’s stringy consistency and lively, bouncy texture. The stretched curd family of cheeses branches out into several other groups as well, and includes provolone and caciocavallo. But mozzarella will always be the cornerstone of the style, and now that summer is finally here mozzarella season is in full swing.

What better time to better know your mozz? Here are a few of our favorites for the season.

Maple Brook Burrata:

Meaning “buttered” in Italian, burrata is comprised of a thin sheet of mozzarella filled with fresh curds and cream. Burrata originated as a way for cheesemakers to utilize the leftover curds from the cheesemaking process and, like many foods with exceedingly practical origins, it has become one of the best options out there. Maple Brook Farm, who makes rich, fresh and traditional burrata, learned their technique from an Italian cheesemaker from Puglia, in the heart of mozzarella country. If you think the idea of a cream and curd-filled mozzarella pocket bears a striking resemblance to some sort of criminally decadent dessert, you’re not alone. We love serving these bundles of delight with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar for a savory sundae.

Buffalo Mozzaralla:

A far cry from the behemoths you may have seen on the back of a nickel, the Italian water buffalo is a dairy animal known for producing incredibly rich and flavorful milk perfect for cheesemaking. Buffalo milk is the traditional milk used for Italian mozzarella making, and Torre Lupara farm has been doing it since 1946 with a herd of 2,000 buffalo. Buffalo mozzarella provides an extra savory kick, tang and depth of flavor that makes it perfect for adding a layer of richness and moisture to just about anything. We love it in a BLT (a BBLT, if you will) instead of mayo. Or, if you have no sense of shame and love delicious things, just eat it whole, like an apple!

Lioni Mozzarella:

The classic standby for cooking and snacking, cow’s milk mozzarella has a very special place in America’s culinary heart, particularly here in New York City. Made fresh in Brooklyn by Lioni Latticini from whole cows’ milk, this mozzarella embodies traditional Italian flavor while maintaining a commitment to locally sourced ingredients and careful attention to detail. This cheese absolutely begs to be toasted atop a meatball hero or paired with paper thin prosciutto for a smooth and salty snack. If you’re tired of the same old-same old tomato/basil/mozzarella combo, try this fruity variation: mango/mint/mozzarella.