Today I visited three more cheese-related places.
Murray's on Bleecker St.
I used to work there. If anyone happens by either shop (Bleecker or Grand Central), go in and read the signs; I wrote the copy for 98% of them, cheese and non-cheese, give or take a few. The way you can tell which ones are mine is very easy: the good ones are mine, the "eh" ones were written by someone else. haha.
I may do some freelance work with them in the near future. That would be fun. I miss a lot of things about that store. I appreciate and respect their contributions to the world of cheese, and I'd love to work with them again, but on a consultant/freelance basis, as that is my life now. I also miss some of the people who work there. I had a lot of fun with my co-workers, and I'd love to see more of them. Just not every day. Ah, the life of the freelancer.
Right now Murray's is doing a really cool "Tour de France" promo: they are following the Tour's progress vis-a-vis cheese. How's that? Well, they promote a daily cheese that comes from the current location of the Tour. Are the bicyclists in Bourgogne? Then Murray's will feature Epoisses, et al. I think it's a cute idea. I don't see it on the website, but you can find it in the store.
I finally went to see what all the fuss is about at the new Balducci's store on 8th and 14th. The store is very nice. The space is weird, though. Since it's in the old bank building, it has HIGH vaulted ceilings. The square footage of the store isn't small, but the height of the ceiling makes the sales floor seem smaller than it really is. It's a weird effect. Check it out and let me know if you feel it, too.
Anyway, it's a lovely store - almost cathedral-like in its light and air. They have some interesting food items that I haven't seen anywhere else. The meat case looked fresh and well-maintained. The cheese department was fairly comprehensive, but I wanted it to be a little more imaginative. Mind you, I'm The Cheese Snob. I wanted to see cheese I'd never seen before. But that's a lot to ask considering my pedigree. So, I mean that as no slight at all. Most folks who shop there are probably very happy with their selection, as it is pretty big. I'd just like to see more artisan-made cheeses and less of the commodity basics. I'm so jaded. I know.
Their signage needs help. They need me. More on that later.
Whole Foods - Union Square
Yes, it's taken me this long to go there. Part of my reason has to do with my support of the Union Square Greenmarket. And I haven't even been there this year! (Hello, new schedule. Hooray, new schedule.) Anyway, I wanted to see what they were up to, because I know most Whole Foods have a decent cheese department.
My friend Brian works at the Chelsea Whole Foods (stop by and say hello to him), so I've been to that one quite a few times. I hate to break the news to Brian, but the Union Square cheese department is MUCH nicer. The selection is better, and the cheeses look better taken care of.
Their signage is pretty good. I might go back and grill their counter people to determine if they know enough about cheese. If they don't, I will swoop in.
Quick Cheese Quotes
Last week I received two very funny cheese-related comments.
The first was from my former co-worker, Larry Zilko. He's the Computer Commander at Zabar's. As seems to be with most Computer Commanders, he is odd and funny. If there is an odd question that stumps me, Larry has usually asked it. We were talking about lactose intolerance, whey, and ricotta cheese. I was explaining that when cheese is made, the curds clump together and the whey drains off. Larry asked me what happens to the whey, and I told him some people drink it, it's sometimes reheated to make ricotta, or it's thrown away. So, here's Larry's million-dollar question that made me laugh so hard I promised I'd put it in this blog:
"Is it called 'whey' because you throw it away?"
Later on that day, I was talking on the phone with my friend Marc Kehoe, an incredible artist and designer. We were talking about our respective states that day, and both of us were feeling rather sleepy. Marc is given to making almost lysergic pronouncements now and again, and this was his offering on that tired day:
"I wish I had a nap pillow filled with Gorgonzola. It would have a straw coming out of it, so when I wake up from my nap, I could have Gorgonzola cheese go right into my mouth."
I can't top that. So I won't even try.
Yours in Cheese,
-Wendy M. Levy