New York cheese Mecca comes to Seattleon June 23, 2012 @ 3:21 pm (Updated: 1:33 pm - 6/25/12 )
Rachel sampled La Tur, Manchego, Sleeping Beauty, Merlot BellaVitano, Up In Smoke, and Cave Man Blue Cheese at Murray's. (Rachel Belle/Mynorthwest.com)
Cheese lovers rejoince! Murray's, the famous New York cheese Mecca, has come to Seattle. After signing a deal with Kroger, Murray's Cheese has opened up mini shops inside of several Seattle QFC stores.
At the newest location, on Broadway in Capitol Hill, cheese master Jennifer Neal talked about a favorite cheese, called La Tur.
"It's cow, goat, and sheep. You cut through that brie rind and there's a cream line of super, super creamy cheese. And then as you get down into the interior it gets a little cakey-er and a little harder and a little spreadey-er," says Jennifer.
If you love cheese, but you don't know much about it, don't fear: Jennifer is extremely knowledgeable and not the least bit snobby about answering even the simplest questions about cheese. She truly enjoys helping people find cheeses they'll love, or put together tasting plates.
When Jennifer gets really ambiguous questions, she goes to her stand-by: feeding people as much great cheese as possible.
"Usually if people don't know what they're looking for, it's because they had a cheese in particular that they can't remember, or they're trying to put together a cheese platter for a party and feel overwhelmed and need help. There's no need for cheese to feel overwhelming," says Jennifer.
When asked about a Cambozola cheese with a black label, Jennifer was quick to sing its praises.
"It's a cold-ripened cheese from Germany. It's aged a little longer than a standard Cambozola so it develops this really pretty gray mold rind on it. Cambozola is a combination of Camembert and Gorgonzola. It's a triple-cream, it's buttery, it's rich, and I've never met anybody who doesn't like it," says Jennifer.
Jennifer also had great advice about the best pairings for gourmet cheese: for brie, a nice fruit jam to spice things up, like Harvest Song Apricot Fruit Jam. Also consider a beverage with bubbles for soft cheeses, like champagne, dry soda, or Perrier. For blue cheeses, Riesling, Port, honey, or chocolate are excellent pairs.
"Anything sweet to tame that stink and bring out the sweetness in the blue cheese," says Jennifer.
If you want to go all out for cheese tasting, also keep gherkins, pate, toast, and crackers on hand for guests to cleanse their palates.
For tasting, Jennifer suggests going from "mild to wild." Taste a softer, milder cheese like brie first and end with the stronger, more instense cheese like blue cheese. Experts also stress that cheeses should be served at room temperature to bring out the best flavor.
To all the kids out there that dream of being cheese masters when they grow up, Jennifer says to keep eating cheese.
"Just persevere, eat all the cheese that you can, and take no prisoners," says Jennifer.
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