When you really stop and think about it, many cheeses are actually aged to the point where they’re moldy in the darkness often for months at a time. Then we eat them and expound on their wonderful flavors and pairings with some of the finest wines often costing over $100 a bottle. Normally, you would think of ingesting a moldy substance as downright gross. See why this simply isn’t the case by taking a tour of Murray’s Cheese caves under their store on Bleeker Street.
You don’t need a discerning palate to learn the finer points of how a huge variety of cheeses make it to your table. First of all, these caves are not what you’d normally imagine them to be: damp, dark catacombs carved deep in the ground. While they are indeed underground below the store, you’ll discover that the cheeses here aren’t stored and aged in actual caverns, but rather in climate-controlled walk-in refrigerators. One is for younger cheeses, one for washed rind, and another for harder, older cheeses like the giant 200-pound Swiss Emmenthaler wheels. Before entering, you’ll need to wipe your feet on an antibacterial mat. Even with this precaution, sometimes a cheese needs to be quarantined because of bad mold. The more exotic include goat and walnut-leaf wrapped Pecorino Foja de Noce. You’ll learn that some need to be patted and turned every few days so the fat doesn’t settle creating a soggy bottom. Half hour tours are held every 3rd Sat. and cost a mere $10. At this price they’re a steal since they also include a tasting of seasonal cheeses paired with wine.