At Vermont Creamery we are known for making the best fresh and aged goat cheese in the country. Our partnership with Murray’s started many years ago when Rob Kaufeldt, Frankie and Cielo were behind the counter at the original Murray’s location. Our creamery crème fraîche, butter, and fresh goat cheese became a staple at the store. When Murray’s decided to offer fine cheese to restaurant chefs, they took on our small geo-rinded cheeses. We knew that their French customers would go for them. When Murray’s moved across the street, Cielo still ruled the counter, Frankie moved upstairs to purchase cheese, and Rob was still Rob and very smart at hiring hip young people to be his disciples of good cheese. Vermont Creamery, then Vermont Butter and Cheese Company was poised to help out. We taught classes in the new classroom and sold more cheese for their restaurant customers. We hosted a bus of curious cheese loving consumers on a trip to the Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival. We even sent them our summer intern eager try on a career in the New York food scene.
The story of good cheese was growing as Murray’s reach went beyond the counter at Bleecker Street, from affinage of cheese in the cellar under the store, to establishing cheese kiosks at the Kroger chains around the country. What was left to do but develop a signature line of cheeses sources from their favorite producers and finished in the caves below Murray’s cheese Shop. Since Vermont Creamery was on top of the geo-rinded category, it made sense to make a “green” geo cheese for Murray’s. And, with the credibility of the Murray’s endorsement, what did we have to lose?
Vermont Creamery cheesemaker, Adeline Druart gathered the wish list from Murrays: shape, ash/no ash, creamy, yeasty, sweet, earthy, complexity, and yup, looks like a brain. Even our cheese expert friend from Australia, Will Studd put in his two cents and suggested we cut out the center, making a donut to create even more surface area for a yummy rind throughout.
What is a “green” cheese from Vermont Creamery? The idea is to make a fresh cheese and send it to an affineur or cheese “finishing school” for aging. Sounds easy. Not so. Adeline and the Murray’s cave master Brian Ralph worked for a year to perfect the nicknamed “donut”: moisture, salt, and seasonality of milk to accommodate the natural climate in the cave. The cave master had to “wake up” the dormant yeast and cheese cultures inside the carefully packaged and cooled cheeses to assure that the rind would grow properly in the cave. The result is a quintessential geo goat cheese filled with flavor and texture unique to Murray’s and Vermont Creamery’s partnership.
What’s in a name? Donuts make us think of Homer Price and we would like to think that making a good cheese requires more savoir faire. After lists of names by many, Aaron Foster, cave manager, came up with “Torus”. Indeed an artisanal replica of a geometric torus, we also think of Taurus the bull. How a propos for this cheese having required tenacity and drive to create such a satisfying reward. Vermont Creamery has spent years to develop the geo category of goat cheese in America both in perfecting the cheese and also in educating the market. We are delighted to share the challenge with Murray’s who will serve their customers on Bleecker Street with a gratuitous taste of Vermont and Manhattan terroir.
Photo courtesy of Murray’s Cheese