Saturday, October 15, 2011


I have a confession to make. I think my hobby has turned into an obsession.'s so addicting! It's even started to take over the hubby! : ) But it sure is a fun obsession!
This week was my husband's fall break, so we took the day on Thursday to head to Denver and have some fun. The day started off fulfilling a long time dream of mine. You all know how much I love Murray's Cheese, a gourmet cheese shop in New York City. I've blogged about it. I've dreamed of visiting it. I've drooled over their fabulous selection online. I've even ordered from them. Well, a few weeks ago I discovered that they have a small branch in two King Soopers in Denver! Oh boy! So we went. And I was like a kid in a candy store...or a junkie in a cheese shop. :) It was so. much. FUN! I was just beside myself. I absolutely can't wait to go back. I wanted to take my camera in and take pictures of all the cheese, and really document my experience. But someone thought that would be too embarrassing. So, I will have to paint you a picture with just my words.
It was just a modest sized cheese counter, tucked back behind the edge of the dairy department. There was a big orange Murray's banner, declaring the goodness beneath. I think there were something like 150 different varieties of cheese. I was in pure, cheesy bliss. There were enormous wheels of craggy Parmigiano-Reggigiano, little balls of fresh, white mozzerella, mounds of cellophane wrapped wedges of bloomy bries, stinky washed rinds, and pungent blues. Oh the options.
It was an awesome experience. I spent thirty minutes just browsing, reading the descriptions, smelling them, feeling them, soaking in each little version. It just fascinates me that so many incredible varieties and flavors can all come from the same simple thing- milk! It's just such an art. It was so fun to be able to have the sensory filled experience, to be able to take all the time to browse, and to be able to buy smaller amounts and more types for my money. We also went at the perfect time, as we were the only ones in that department. Perfect!
I finally picked out five little wedges to take home. Then the cheesemonger told me we could sample anything we wanted. Ooooh boy. I started asking him what his favorites were, and he took us on a tour of his personal favorites. He said his very favorite cheese is Gruyere. I tried Gruyere once. It tasted like dirty socks. And smelled even worse. But, this was before I'd tried many cheeses, and it was most likely an inferior quality, as it was just something we'd picked up at the grocery store. And it seems like every cheese connoisseur I've ever heard of loves the stuff. But still, I haven't quite had the guts to try it again. Maybe next time. :)
Finally, he gave us a little bowl of five cheeses that he recommended and we requested. What a treat! We paid for our other five choices, then finally left. With one very happy cheese lover!
So, in this post I will share the samples we tried in the store, then I will post later about all the ones we brought home.
The first cheese we actually tried was Butter KÄSE. It's a German semi-soft cheese that was similar to a provolone or muenster. It literally means "buttery cheese" and that is the perfect description. It was very mild and buttery with a slight swiss cheese flavor to it. Mmm, tasty!
Here is what was on our tasting tray, starting with the largest one on the bottom right, and moving clockwise:

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
Rosemary and Olive Oil Asiago
? He threw this one in for us, and I can't remember what it was called...oops.
Five Year Aged Gouda

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
Region: Vermont, USA
Cheese type: Firm, supple and grassy
Milk type: Pasteurized cow
Age: 10-14 months
The official description:
"a delicate balance of sharpness, slight nuttiness, and a caramelized, nearly candied sweetness. We like a firm, slightly crunchy paste that’s never waxy, and unfolds with layers of toasted nut and cooked fruits. Produced from the pasteurized milk from a single herd of Holstein cows, our wheels hover in the 12-14 month range. Here, we’ve found complex flavors that balance the crisp crunch of fall apples and the nuttiness of big Brown Ales."

This one was phenomenal! Probably the best cheese we tried. We ended up wishing we'd bought a big chunk of that to bring home, but we didn't try it until we'd left, so we didn't have the option. Next time!
It was a very unique cheddar- slightly fruity, salty, yet with a sweet, caramelly crunch. We both thought it was amazing, and could snack on that cheese alone for days and not get tired of it.

Region: Castilla-La Mancha, Spain
Cheese type: Firm, supple and grassy
Milk type: Pasteurized sheep
Age: 3-6 months
The official description:
"Perhaps the most famous Spanish cheese, Manchego is a D.O. (Denominacion de Origen) protected cheese, meaning that only 100% Manchega sheep’s milk is used in a traditional recipe.
Young and spry, a Manchego better for melting at three months than its aged counterpart, and more fun at parties."

This one was much more mild. After the Cabot, it was almost bland. It had a nice, simple flavor that was slightly salty. Very tender.

Rosemary and Olive Oil Asiago
Region: Veneto, Italy
Cheese type: Hard, dry and caramelly
Milk type: Pasteurized cow
Age: 3-5 weeks
The official description:
"Asiago is a D.O.P (protected designation of origin) cheese produced from the pastureland in the Po River Valley to the Alpine meadows on the Asiago plateau and in the province of Trent in northeastern Italy, area covered within the regions of Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige. Asiago D.O.P. is produced in two distinct ways that correspond to aging time, offering two unique cheeses. Aged Asiago ("vecchio") is reminiscent of the fragrance of yeast and dried fruit. To the touch, it is fairly solid; slightly elastic if relatively young, and Harder when fully matured. The darker shades of straw yellow typical of this variety can sometimes reach the intensity of amber. The sweet taste can acquire a somewhat more savoury flavour and ranges to slightly piquant. Made of raw cows’ milk. "

This particular asiago had olive oil and rosemary added to it. It was a wonderful pairing! It was nice and smooth, with a beautiful balance of rosemary and olive oil. Not too overpowering. Hubby even mentioned that he typically doesn't like rosemary, as he thinks it's too strong, but he loved this cheese. It makes a great snacking cheese.

The Question Mark
Well, this one I can only give you our impressions. It was tasty, had a bit of a salty bite, with a relatively strong aftertaste. It was tangy, but smooth. And that's all I've got on that one. It was an enjoyable taste, but not one I would buy probably, so I'm ok not knowing what it is. : )

Five Year Aged Gouda - the closest description I could find on this on the website was the 1-2 year aged gouda. The five year was significantly stronger and crunchier than the two year, but here is a description to give you a base of reference.
Region: Holland
Cheese type: Hard, dry and caramelly
Milk type: Pasteurized goat
Age: 1-2 years (obviously, the five year was aged five years... :)
The official description:
"In Holland, a country inundated with gouda, this is probably the most unusual export. Younger pasteurized goat gouda, only aged for several months, has a supple snow-white paste that’s mild and vaguely sweet with no typical goat-y flavors. This aged version is held for at least one year before release, resulting in a rough and stony wheel with a deep toffee-colored interior smattered with white patches of crystalline minerals. The milky sweetness of the younger version intensifies into a caramelized, burnt sugary treasure with a similar crunchy texture to boot. "

This one was a huge hit with me, although Hubby wasn't so crazy about it. I'm discovering thought that I love crunchy, caramelly, sweet-salty cheeses. This one was actually quite strong, but it had a lovely crunchy bite to it. It was sweet and salty, very caramelly, and crumbly-crunchy while still somehow creamy. Oh, it was good. Another one I wish I had bought!

So sorry I don't have more photos...I tried to get pictures of each one as we tried it, but gave up after the first try when the moving car and bumpy road made it next to impossible. I'll make up for it in the next post, with an overload of cheese-y snapshots!
Next time...

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