Murray’s Cheese has pioneered the retail cheese cave program since 2004. At the same time, they’ve also collaborated to make their own cave ripened versions of the European classics like French Valencay and Dutch Gouda Hollander. They have even introduced new cheeses onto the market such as Project X, a cheese produced by Spring Brook Farm and aged in Murray’s cellars in Long Island City. But now with the launch of Murray’s proprietary clothbound cheddar called Ezra they have officially entered the cheese making game.
Ezra is named after the founder of Cornell University and is currently being produced in Cornell’s incubator program where Murray’s has had the cheese in research and development since April 2015. The flavor profile of the cheese first hits the palate as grassy and lemon curd-y and its buttery, burnt caramel characteristics only come through at the finish. The texture is firm at 12 months old, but the pieces break off like nuggets of gold and melt in the mouth, making for a surprisingly light-bodied experience.
Steve Millard, Murray’s senior vice president of merchandising and operations, says that he was trying to achieve these distinct characteristics in their clothbound style. He mentions that cheddars aged in cryovac plastic instead of cloth “are often aggressively caramelized, nutty and sulfurous in the flavor, which makes it challenging to eat more than a few bites. We wanted Ezra to be a more addictive, bright flavor that would appeal to a larger audience.”
The quantity of the cheese is still limited, though and there are only 36 eighteen-pound wheels available at a time. This amount is mostly due to the cheese’s twelve-month aging requirement. “We tasted younger wheels, and they are just not as good,” says Steve. Eventually, Murray’s hopes to make the cheese more available but for now, grab a wedge while you can.
The cheese currently sells at their retail locations and online. Millard recommends pairing the cheese with Other Half Brewing’s beers like a pale ale or an IPA. The hops from the beer balances the lemon curd notes and the effervescence leaves the palate feeling clean, refreshed and ready for one more bite of Ezra.
Photos courtesy of Murray’s Cheese.