The Lady has been back from her trip to New York and Murray’s Cheese Boot Camp for a few days and has been especially attentive; she knows I am annoyed; I know she knows I am annoyed… which I, of course, use to my advantage.
The Lady explained that Murray’s is yet another one of those “No Pets Allowed” places…” we gotta keep those pesky dogs and cats away from where we sell and serve food”… I am more than willing to put my personal cleaning habits up against any humankind, any day of the week. Unlike many, maybe even most, humankinds, this Feline Foodie is fastidious when it comes to cleanliness… in my not-so-humble opinion, there are far more humankinds who shouldn’t be allowed inside food establishments than cats… as for dogs, there are so many other reasons to ban them… but I will save that argument for another day.
Since The Lady started her new cheese adventure, she has been traveling a lot and always comes home smelling of cheeses… lots of cheeses… ones of which I can only dream. At least while she’s away, I have The Man”Servant” at my beck and call. He is one easy dude to get to do most everything I wish… but I digress.
The Lady returned with wonderful tales of the cheeses in the cases at Murray’s and the cheeses she tasted during boot camp; a total of seventy-five plus many wines and several beers… as mentioned (numerous times), she gets the glory; while I do the heavy-lifting…
She took a photo of the cheese plate that followed the tour of Murray’s Cheese Caves… be still my heart… caves filled with cheese…
Affinage is the specialized art of aging cheese. The affineur finds the best sources for cheese and then nurtures them to their optimum ripeness for the best flavor of the cheese. This includes brushing, washing, bathing and turning to promote everything good in the cheese and keep the bad “stuff” out.
Brian, Murray’s resident affineur, led the class on a tour of the caves which Conde Nast Traveler named one of the 50 Coolest Places to be in the world. After the tour, he served a cheese plate that reflected the many talents involved in being a successful affineur.
The plate started with two wedges of Haystack Peak, a soft-ripened cheese produced by Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy in Colorado. (A detailed review will be posted soon.) The first wedge of this cheese was new and the second was aged about two weeks. While both were delicious, the aging made a good cheese only better.
Next on the plate were two wedges of Petite Frères, from one of our favorites, Wisconsin’s Crave Brothers. The first wedge was “as produced” by the Brothers, a wonderful small wheel of a fruity, earthy washed rind semi-soft cow milk cheese. The second wedge had been washed by Brian in a local brewery ale. Brian was experimenting with a new wash and the improvement to the cheese was amazing.
St. Nectaire, a French cheese from the Auvergne region of Central France was the next cheese up on the plate. This is an AOC –protected cheese. This is a washed-rind Tomme-style cheese that is shipped at the age of two weeks to the affineur for another six weeks of aging before the dense paste reaches perfection and is ready for the consumer. We will be reviewing this cheese in the next few days.
Up next were two versions of Cabot Creamery’s Aged Cheddar. The first was a creamy wedge of their cheddar that is shipped in cryovac to grocery stores national-wide. A very respectable wedge of cheese; one that appeared at the Burbank manse more than once. This is what The Lady and I like to call “an everyday cheese” – one that is respectable in its taste profile and inexpensive enough to have available for everyday use.
The second version from Cabot was their Clothbound Cheddar which is aged by the Cellars at Jasper Hills in Vermont. With absolutely no disrespect to cryovac cheddars, once you’ve had a clothbound cheddar, you’ll never go back.
Following the cheddars was a wedge of Black River Blue; an award-winning blue cheese from Wisconsin. A milder blue that is slightly softer than butter and easily spreadable on a baguette for “everyday” enjoyment. Black River Gorgonzola is one of the “everyday” cheeses you can find around the manse.
The final cheese on the plate was Bayley Hazen Blue from the Kehler Brothers of Jasper Hills Farm in the northeast kingdom of Vermont. This is a cheese I have been dying to taste and thankfully, The Lady shipped a wedge home in her luggage for The Man and moi to taste and enjoy. A review of this cheese will follow this Cheese Plate posting… but let’s just say, I’ll be using all my paws…
The Lady thanks Brian for leading the boot camp on a tour of the caves and if you would like to tour the caves, Murray’s Cheese offers tours of the cave along with many other great, cheesy classes at its Greenwich Village location. Check out their array of classes here.