Our column Deconstructing the Dish appears monthly in Nfocus Magazine and we include it here for our cheaterchef.com readers.
Murray’s Cheese in Kroger.
With Harris Teeter gone and new Nashvillians still streaming in, our supermarkets are big city-packed. This growing inconvenience has us pining for H.G. Hill’s once wide-open parking lots and spacious aisles. On the up side, we’ve now got a variety of foods not available at traditional supermarkets even ten years ago. The latest culinary advance since Boars’ Head made their grand deli entrance is the Murray’s Cheese kiosk in Kroger supermarkets.
Murray’s Cheese is the oldest operating cheese shop in New York City. It’s a New York institution, a leader in cheese-ripening affinage with state of the art caves and a major mail-order retailer and wholesaler of specialty cheeses that you’d not expect to find here. On your next trip to New York it’s worth a visit to their shop in Greenwich Village on Bleeker Street or in Grand Central Station.
We can thank Whole Foods for taking the specialty cheese segment to the next level, but frankly, that’s not the everyman store. By partnering with Kroger, the nation’s largest traditional grocery retailer, Murray’s has taken a huge leap toward their goal of “bringing better cheese to more people.”
In Nashville you can find Murray’s Cheese kiosks at Kroger stores in Green Hills, Bellevue and Franklin, with more to come in 2016. You’ll feel like you were transported to New York City when you take in the selection. We now live in a city where a quick trip to the grocery for Raisin Bran and paper towels can also include burrata and Eppoises.
Like wine, fancy cheeses can impose an intimidating learning curve. We want to feel confident that the specialty cheese we’re buying at the Bellevue Kroger is handled with as much care and knowledge as Murray’s Bleeker Street Shop, and we need help shopping for cheese. Curious consumers want to know where and how cheeses are made, flavor and texture descriptions, useful pairing and serving suggestions, and tips for cutting, handling and properly storing cheeses. This will be an ongoing and interesting challenge for the partnership as they aim to emphasize cheese service training and education with the goal of developing cheese professionals nationwide and more experienced cheese consumers.
“Through the Murray’s training program our associates become ‘cheese experts’ who are able to assist and educate customers on their cheese selections. We look forward to expanding Murray’s Cheese into other locations, and to July of 2016 when we can offer it along with its natural complement…wine,” said Melissa Eads, marketing and public relations manager for the Kroger Nashville Division.
To find the Murray’s kiosk look for the bright signage and folks in red jackets—employees who have graduated with “Red Jacket Training.” They are trained to offer recommendations and advice, will let you taste cheeses and will cut and wrap cheeses specifically for you.
The cheeses are labeled by style such as grate and crumble, melting, gouda, blue, cheddar, bloomy rind and washed rind. You’ll also find accessories and tastes for the cheese lover like fruit pastes, jams, nuts, pickles, olives, cheeseboards and cheese knives, gift crates, pates, cured sausages, honey and fancy butters. We especially enjoy rummaging through the pre-wrapped under $5 pieces of cheese, which make it easy to affordably try something new.
If that isn’t enough, you too can become a cheese expert by attending the three-day Murray’s Cheese Boot Camp in New York at the flagship Bleeker Street store ($695).
We’re seeing more cheese dessert plates featured on the menus around town, so forget the usual sweets and design a stylish new finale for your own next dinner party. Jump in, say no to intimidation, have fun trying new things and building confidence. Trust your palate and loosen the rules. The only way to learn what you like is to start tasting.
Here are a few suggestions from Murray’ spokesperson, Hannah Howard:
Go from mild to wild. Start with a mild cheese and build up to stinky.
What grows together goes together. Select a region or country and combine its local cheeses with other foods and beverages from the area.
Curate a selection by combining a variety of textures and tastes—creamy, stinky, sharp, nutty, blue. Or, go for a sampling of one style and compare them all.
Don’t forget that little extras add interest to the plate like a scattering of nuts and a smear of jam, fruit paste or honey.
Soon the folks at Kroger will have to help us pick out a good wine, too. We can’t wait.