28 August 2012

Murray's Cheese at Kroger

The cheese selection at Kroger just got better with a new New York City import.

Three central Ohio Kroger Marketplace stores are going to partner with Murray's, NYC's original cheese shop, to add variety to Kroger's specialty cheese case.

To showcase its first Murray's in the area, Kroger hosted a blogger tasting at the Sawmill Road location this past Thursday. Disclosure: the wine and cheese in the tasting were provided free of charge. I was also given a bag with cheese and the Murray's Cheese Handbook. Like most cheese shops, Murray's will let you taste just about anything in the case.

The event was an introduction to Murray's, its history and its approach to cheese. While this is the first Murray's in central Ohio, others have recently opened near Cincinnati and Dayton.

Murray's organizes its cheeses by flavor (mild to sharp), and then by category (soft-ripened, blue, et al.). There are a ton of classic imports, as well as big-name American cheeses from all over. The Ohio cheese selection is currently limited, but Nathan Aldridge, the manager presenting the tasting, expressed an interest in carrying more as he becomes more familiar with Buckeye State producers.

Despite the local shortcoming, Murray's really does offer a great selection of cheese. Some of the stars of the tasting included the fresh Vermont Butter & Cheese Company's goat cheese, a crumbly, soft mild cheese with a light clean flavor. The fromager d'affinois is a soft-ripened goat cheese with the flavor of triple-cream cheese like St. Andre (it's actually a double-cream) and an unctuous texture that practically runs down your arm. The Pleasant Ridge raw cow's milk cheese had a funky herbal flavor that finished with bright citrus notes. The black label Cambozola is a blue cheese that's mild enough to win over those who hate blue cheese, and complex enough to make moldy cheese fans come back for more.

The staff is extremely knowledgeable about cheeses, as would be expected at an operation carrying Murray's name. They should be able to find a cheese for every palate. Like most cheese shops, Murray's will let you taste just about anything in the case. Vegetarians take note: Murray's lists the enzymes used in all of the cheeses, allowing vegetarians to avoid cheeses made with animal rennet.

While the first Murray's is open in the area, two more should open by year's end. The Brewery District Kroger and the Dublin Kroger on Hospital Drive will look much like the Sawmill location. The Brewery District Kroger might offer a little more cut-to-order cheese than the other two because of its layout.

It will be interesting to see how Murray's fits into the gourmet scene in central Ohio. While Murray's is a high-profile name in the industry, Whole Foods, The Hills Market, Katzinger's, the Giant Eagle Market District and Curds and Whey in the North Market have pretty formidable cheese selections, too. It will make great cheese more accessible to those who live near these Kroger locations, but will the Murray's name and approach be enough to draw people from outside the stores' vicinity who shop at these other area cheese providers?

1 comment:

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