August 28, 2012

Murray’s Cheese Bar & Abando Rioja

Murray’s Cheese Bar & Abando Rioja

I can’t help it-I am obsessed with cheese.  It is by far my favorite food.  If I suddenly became lactose intolerant this would be a problem.  I could exist solely on cheese and would be happy to do so (provided I had plenty of wine to pair with it of course)!  In New York City there is the best cheese shop you could ever hope to find.  Murray’s is an absolute cheese mecca.  Whenever possible I trek to their shop in Greenwich Village or their outpost in Grand Central Terminal to check out their latest and greatest offerings.  They have the most knowledgeable staff and will give you samples to help make your decisions.  With 300 varieties of cheese on hand these decisions aren’t so easily made!   Could the  Murray’s experience get any better?  The answer to that is a resounding YES!  To my delight they have recently opened Murray’s Cheese Bar.  Located just down the block from their location on Bleecker Street, this cheese bar makes it possible to sit down and enjoy a cheese filled meal along with wine or beer.  I am impressed with the overall selection of wines available by the bottle.  There is a great variety of wine types and many top regions are represented.  There is also a decent list of wines to enjoy by the glass.

Since we love our Spanish wines we chose a bottle of Abando Rioja 2005 from producer Bodegas Santalba.  We love the fullness and intense flavors of many Riojas and Abando proved to be a perfect choice.  It is comprised of 100% tempranillo grapes and is very dark ruby in color.  Flavors of dark cherry mix with a hint of caramel and give way to that spiciness that I love in my reds.  Abando Rioja exhibits a really nice acidity and presence of tannins.  We ordered two bottles of this wine while we were there and we don’t normally drink more than one bottle per evening.  At 13.5% alcohol we were feeling pretty good when we walked out!  The price was less than $50 which made it economical and we enjoyed it so much we just had to keep on drinking it.

Now back to the cheesy goodness Murray’s Cheese Bar has to offer.  You can choose your cheese plate a la carte or you can try a cheese flight of varying size but the selections are chosen by the cheese monger.  They will ask you what your preferences are and work around what you like and dislike.  I also think they took into account the wine we were drinking as we had several cheeses from Spain on both of our flights.  We started with a flight of 5 cheeses and later ordered another with 3 cheeses and 2 meats.   There are entrees like a cheddar cheeseburger and mac & cheese as well as griddles which are certain cheeses that are served warm on a griddle and then spread onto bread.  We tried the Champlain Valley triple creme served with mushrooms.  It was excellent!  There is also a farmer’s market section of the menu where you can get salads and veggies.  All of these ingredients are local and very fresh.  We tried the grilled artichokes with buttermilk ranch dressing which was another delicious choice and at least I felt like I had something green and healthy to go with all of the cheese we were consuming.  Next time we visit we are planning on trying the cheeseburger as well as the grilled cheese with smoked tomato soup.  With fall upon us and cooler weather around the corner what sounds better for dinner than that?  I see many more trips to Murray’s Cheese Bar in my future along with many more trips to the gym!

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