The bountiful cheese selection at Murrays

The bountiful cheese selection at Murray's

The second in a series of tasting notes from our New York Summer ’09 Cheese Tour. After brunch at Artisanal, we headed downtown to do some shopping, cupcake-hunting and, of course, more cheese-eating. Our next cheese-shop stop was the one I had been looking forward to the most, not only because it is considered one of the best cheese shops in the United States, but also because it shares a name with my grandfather. Murray’s in Greenwich Village did not disappoint.

Murray’s began as a wholesale butter and egg shop in 1940, when it was owned by Murray Greenberg, who, according to Murray’s Web site, was a Spanish Civil War vet and Communist. He sold the shop to one of his clerks in the 1970s, and it is now owned by Rob Kaufelt, who has since moved the shop twice and turned it from a bodega-type shop to one specializing in artisan cheese, charcuterie and the like. Squeezed into a narrow space on Bleecker Street, Murray’s nonetheless has an impressive variety of domestic and imported cheeses, including several that neither Colleen nor I have been able to find in our local cheese shops. The cheesemongers are generous with samples (always a plus in my book!), and the one who helped us took a keen interest in our blog (hello, if you’re reading along!).

Im like the Vanna White of cheese.

I'm like the Vanna White of cheese.

Yeah to Murrays for getting into the Pride spirit!

Yeah to Murray's for getting into the Pride spirit!

The cheese lover could easily spend an hour wandering through the store and browsing among the meats, breads, crackers, chocolates, olives, butters and such. We happily picked up a Murray’s insulated tote (essential because our hotel room did not have a fridge) and a brutal-looking cheese knife that I didn’t dare try to bring home on the plane. The C+C kids, O and N, proudly sport Murray’s T-shirts with the phrase “milk made” printed on the front, while Colleen and I have joint custody of the tote.

One of the cheeses we picked up at Murray’s was Gabietou, a French cheese made from a blend of raw cow and sheep mik in the Pyrenees. Being an imported raw-milk cheese, it has to be aged past 60 days, and most wheels you’ll find in the United States are aged anywhere from four to 12 months. We enjoyed the dense, creamy paste and how it melted in the mouth. We found the Gabietou to be a little gamey but sweet at the same time, typical of many washed-rind cheeses. Beaujolais is a recommended wine pairing, though in keeping with the theory of terroir, I’d be apt to sample Gabietou with some wines from the Pyrenees region.

Next stop: Casellula