Grazin' in the Sun: Murray's proprietor chooses picnic-perfect cheese, including an exclusive for you!
Come summer, my family retreats from Manhattan to our place in the country— a restored 1768 farmhouse that’s the best place to cool off. (Aside from Murray’s underground cheese caves, that is.)
So when culture asked me to share some of our family favorites, I thought I’d pick three that are especially great for an afternoon picnic (including a new import that culture readers get first dibs at!). After all, it’s summertime and the livin’ is cheesy, especially outdoors.
Nettle Meadow Kunik
Adirondacks, New York
Pasteurized goat’s and cow’s milk
No matter what’s on a cheese plate, I see people make a beeline for the triple crème first; Kunik is a standout in that category. Milk from the happy goats and cows at Nettle Meadow Farm in Warrensburg, New York, makes for a sumptuous, decadent paste. After the rinds bloom for a couple of weeks in Murray's Cave 3, these rounds have plenty of the lemony, mushroomy, wet straw qualities we prize. The only way to make this cheese even better is to drizzle some acacia honey over it.
Raw sheep's milk
Manchego? Just say Manche-no. Roncal was the first Spanish cheese awarded D.O. (Designated Origin) status, and with good reason. This lesser-known wheel, crafted from raw sheep’s milk, has a rustic quality and a gamey, lanolin flavor that I find delectable—so does my five-year-old. After a month of ripening in Cave 4 at Murray’s, the cheese enzymes break down to create a rich and flaky pressed paste. Roncal is picnic-perfect because it’s snackable and easy to slice or shave.
Pasteurized cow’s milk
From this great wine region across the pond comes a new cheese that my staff at Murray’s awarded “Best in Rind.” After thrice-weekly brine baths, Nocciolo’s live- active rind ripens from the outside in, creating a thick cream line and a chalky center. It was first picked up in Italy by our wholesale director to share with our chef clients, and we are now introducing it exclusively to readers of culture. Creamy, hazelnut-like (“nocciolo” in Italian) notes distinguish this artisan cheese. Serve it sliced on a thin cracker.
Written by Rob Kaufelt
Photography by Michael Harlan Turkell