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Weekend Wanderlust

Praise Jesus, the sun has returned to NYC! And I celebrated this past weekend by taking my sweet time getting down to the Village for the tour of Murray’s Cheese Caves.

As you may or may not know, I live in the Dirty Jerz, meaning almost all of my Manhattan adventures begin at Penn – and with an hour to blow and only 20-odd blocks to walk, I pointed my cute widdle nose South and began the trek along 7th Ave.

First stop? A bagel. You’d think that anywhere within 15miles of New York would have a decent bagel, but you’d be wrong! Damn you, Newark (shakes fist). So I hit the first decent cafe I stumbled upon. Everything bagel? Check! Toasted? You betcha! Stuffed like a high school cheerleader with Chive Cream Cheese and some cucumber, if you’re nasty? You know it! I’m drooling just thinking about it… maybe bagels should be my next baking endeavor? The thought alone intimidates me, so if anyone’s got some tips…

Moving on, I wandered to a coffee shop and topped off with a latte (I should really write down where I go, yes?) before realizing I had to hoof it to make it south of 14th street in time for the tour. But Mr. Sun wouldn’t stop distracting me from beautiful mounds of produce perched perilously on crates: pyramids of blood oranges with their sinful blush; canteloups stacked like golf balls, just waiting for argyll-bedecked giants to snatch them up; and spiky forests of pineapple and starfruit, that I could only imagine provided daytime shelter for the lilliputian nymphs charged with straightening everything up again once the sidewalks clear.

Murray’s block on Bleeker was no better, full of artisanal food mongers of every stripe (if you’re at all familiar with Bleeker Street, you’ll know it’s a Foodie’s wet dream so long as you know where to look). During the tour, I’d find out later that the current owner of Murray’s Cheese bought the whole block, selling storefront space to like-minded shop owners and keeping the subterranean spread for himself and the caves he would later build.

And man, what a tour. Murray’s has five caves of varying humidity and temp, allowing them to store and age the ‘fresh’ cheese they buy from their suppliers, both in Europe and locally. Cheeses come to them in varying stages, and can require anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or even months to age properly.

There are the cheeses delivered with a coat of vegetable ash, that must be caressed and turned and even sung to, while they develop their moldy crust. There are the monastic cheeses, coated in wax or olive oil, that must be washed daily, in the hopes of keeping the cheese as pure as the Virgin Mary. There are the rounds still covered in Gallic dirt and crumpled leaves, resting heavily on bottom shelves, waiting to be paired again with that other treasure of French soil, the truffle. And there are the rows-upon-rows of militant blue cheeses, standing guard as their sides are poked with holes by Edward Scissorhands-in-training (no really, they wear these spiked glove contraptions that poke holes deep into the core, allowing those lovely blue streaks to curl their way around the cheese!).

It was a fantastic tour, and I’m compelled to sign up as an intern a few hours a week. After dealing with the egos and entitlement inherent in the music industry day-in and day-out, the idea of plopping down on a stool in the bowels of Greenwich Village and petting some stinky cheese seems like the perfect antidote!

I highly recommend you take a tour of Murray’s Caves, or any of their other classes!

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