When I tell people that I work in cheese, I get a lot of "wow, so cool or that's awesome," followed by "so what does that mean exactly?"
|Murray's is the oldest cheese shop in New York City. (credit: Murray's Cheese)|
I am currently a head cheesemonger at Murray's Cheese in the West Village, an NYC institution. Most days, you'll find me behind the counter chatting with customers and selling them cheese and charcuterie. I also teach cheese and wine pairing classes through Murray's education program. My career in cheese follows ten years working in the financial services industry.
|Lauren, Head Cheesemonger, Murray's Cheese|
I've always seen food as a means to bring people together and socialize. Over the years, I've taken recreational cooking and cheese classes and loved the experience, but never really thought that a culinary career could work for me. Last fall, I was in Chicago for work getting lunch at Pastoral Artisan Cheese, a local specialty foods shops. While waiting for my sandwich and looking around the store, I was struck by the realization that this is exactly what I wanted to do. In that moment, it seemed so simple and obvious. I wanted to work in a neighborhood shop that offered great cheese and specialty foods, made customers happy, and was a part of the local community. It was a bit of an epiphany!
Once I returned to NY, things moved pretty quickly. I enrolled in a Culinary Management program at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), applied for Murray's cheese cave internship, and gave notice at my former company. I started 2016 embarking on a new career and I can honestly say that it was the best decision I could have made. I have had no regrets and have been loving my new profession!
Alpines are my favorite cheese category. Made in the Alps using milk from animals grazing in high mountain summer pastures leads to cheeses with rich, complex flavors. Popular alpines are Comte, Gruyere, L'Etivaz, and Appenzeller. Some of my current top picks are Gutensberg, Challerhocker, and Annelies, a Murray's Cave Aged original.
Most traditional alpine cheese is made from raw milk, which tends to have a more characteristics taste of terroir, so you experience the nuanced flavors of what the animals had been grazing on, like clovers, wildflowers, spring onions, etc. Aged for a long time, alpine cheeses have a lower moisture content and therefore are lower in carbohydrates and are a good source of protein.
I love pairing a nutty alpine with a crisp, tart apple for a satisfying fall snack! Sweeten it up with a drizzle of honey or caramel sauce (recommended Fat Toad Farm goat's milk caramel), or a dollop of fig jam (Divina Fig Spread is delicious). As we head into the colder months, these cheeses are also excellent for fondue and raclette.
1 tart apple (recommended Granny Smith or Golden Delicious)
1/2 lb wedge of your favorite alpine
optional: fig spread, caramel sauce, honey, apple butter
Slice apple into slivers, cube cheese into similar size pieces.
Assemble and drizzle or dollop with your favorite topping!
* Store cheese in the refrigerator or vegetable drawer. Rewrap cheese in new packaging after each use - plastic wrap, wax paper, or cheese storage bags are great options.
* Remove cheese from fridge at least 30 minutes before serving, flavors are enhanced when cheese is at room temperature.
* If you have a large piece of cheese and only plan to eat or cook with a portion of it, cut that portion off, rewrap the remainder, and store back in the fridge.
Head Cheesemonger, Murray's Cheese
Drop by Murray's to grab cheese for yourself, a holiday party, or a gift!~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
You know you'd rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin.
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Founder, Healthylicious Bliss™