For the past couple of weeks all I’ve wanted to eat is cheese. Just huge chunks, wedges, slices, globs of it. While I always love cheese, the reason I’ve been craving it like a crackhead as of lately is because of the book I just finished. Immortal Milk, by Eric LeMay is all about cheese, but not in a boring reference book kind of way. You wouldn’t read Immortal Milk to look up what makes Gorgonzola so funky or cheddar so orange. You’d read it, like I did, to follow someone else’s adventures, explorations, musings about cheese.
Immortal Milk is at times funny, educational, entertaining, and throughout, appetizing. Reading it before bed inevitably made me get up and rummage through the fridge, hoping to find some hunk of pecorino or Gouda or Camembert that I knew damn well I didn’t have, but oh hey, will you look at that, was somehow just magically there. (Note: no such luck. Never any magic cheese.)
So of course, as soon as I finished the book, there was only one thing to do: eat some cheese. Good cheese, from a good cheese shop. And I knew exactly where to go: Murray’s Cheese Shop in the West Village. Murray’s is awesome. I had been there once before, but just walked in to take a look around and left before I could do any serious damage. This time, I went with the intent of staying, buying and eating.
Murray’s is a cheese wonderland. Fresh, aged, creamy, grated, stinky, Italian, French, Spanish, from Vermont—you name it, they’ve got it. And they have things that go with cheese too— meat, olives, crackers, chocolate (yes, chocolate can go with cheese) and all manner of yummy things. But after the initial stroll around the store, my eating companions and I beelined to Murray’s melts counter for grilled cheese sandwiches.
Even though I was rooting for the Netherlands in Sunday’s World Cup Final, I made like Paul and went with “The Spaniard:” Serrano ham, manchego, creamy membrillo and roasted red peppers on toasted white bread. I wasn’t sure what membrillo was but it turned out to be a really delicious quince marmalade, almost like guava but less tangy and more subtle. Added to the salt-cured Serrano ham, the sweetness of the peppers and of course, the creamy, warm, melted gooey deliciousness of the manchego, the Spaniard, like Paul’s choice, was absolutely the way to go.
If I could have gotten two sandwiches, I would have also ordered “The Croque.” Lucky for me, that’s what Flaneur went with. Ham, Gruyere and bechamel all loaded up between two slices of warm sourdough bread— a creamy, warm, who-cares-if-there-are-strings-of-melted-cheese-dangling-from-your-mouth sandwich. There was the option to add a fried egg but he decided against it. (This is the only place I think he went wrong. Adding an egg, like going with extra cheese, or piling on bacon, is 9 times out of 10 a fantastic idea, if you ask me.) Even sans the egg, the Croque was delicious. Bechamel, which I wouldn’t of thought to put on a sandwich, was perfect and really tied all the flavors together in its smooth creaminess. The ham, which was cooked, unlike the Serrano in The Spaniard, was just salty enough to stand out but sweet enough to blend in with the bechamel and gruyere. And a note about the bread: perfect. Toasted to a gold crust with a soft inside exactly how I love it.
Not that I needed the affirmation, but after lunch at Murray’s, I know being a vegan will likely never be in the cards for me. I just enjoy cheese too much.