The History of New York's Oldest and Best Cheese Shop: Murray Greenberg (never met him; he died before I got here) was a Jewish Spanish civil war veteran and communist who opened a wholesale butter and egg shop a few doors up Cornelia street in 1940. The old timers tell me that even though he was an old leftie, he was still a street smart capitalist who used to buy cheese cheap and trim it and sell it. In the 70's he sold the shop to his clerk Louis Tudda, an Italian immigrant from Calabria. The old shop was used like a bodega or a Korean deli is today; not only cheese was sold but cheap oil and tomatoes to the locals, who were predominantly Italian back in '91 when I bought the shop. That's changing now. I'd left the family supermarket business in '85 to do full service specialty shops in New Jersey, where I was from. When my shop, in Princeton tanked with the crash of '87, I wound up in my brother's old apartment here in the Village (he's a lawyer and he'd moved to L.A.), wondering what to do with my life next. One day, when I was in line at the original shop, I heard Louis say he'd lost his lease and was closing. I made him an offer and moved the shop to the corner of Bleecker, where we stayed 14 years, until November '04, when we moved to our current location at Bleecker and Leroy. Frankie came with the shop; he lived around here and had been the delivery boy, then a counterman through college, and stayed here when his folks returned to the island of Malta where they were from. Louis himself worked for a year before he went back home. We'd hang out behind the counter selling cheap cheese, mostly commodity stuff bought on deal. Around ten years ago we got serious about the good stuff, and at first we couldn't sell it. Now we can't keep it in stock! The first line we got in was Neal's Yard Dairy cheese, and boy, did it sit there in the case. The old neighborhood is changing. Zito's bread, older than Murray's even (1920) is gone, and so is the pioneer of all, Balducci's up on 9th St. (Citarella's there now). But the new customers are a lot younger and hipper. We always had a good staff, though this is by far the best. I'm often grouchy, but everyone else was, and is, really very nice. Go figure. And the business grows each year. These days I can barely keep up on all the new stuff that's going on: we have a kitchen, a new web site, mail order, a gift catalog, a classroom and cheese caves. It's not quite anarchy but it's certainly not corporate. It's the Village: artists, folkies, poets, creative types have made this their home for over a century. Our shop in Grand Central even has the feel of it. The main thing is to let the customers see our passion, that's what it's all about. Turn them on to whatever we've got going. Taste it yourself. My Grandpa, whose own store is in a picture above the dairy case (ca. 1925), and an immigrant (Russian Jewish) himself, always said, in that sort of accent of his, 'go on, take a taste.' Nothing's changed, I suppose. We tell them, 'here, take a taste.' --Rob
Super knowledge teacher and overall a really great and interesting introduction to cheese. Definitely made me come back for more!
Instructor was incredibly knowledgeable! She picked some great cheeses that were brand new to me
I've loved Murray's since I moved to NYC, so I thought to take this class. I liked the casual tone of the class/instructors, but felt it was a bit rushed. Most of the information went over my head, as I was not familiar with a majority of the wines/cheeses presented and there was little comparison made to more common cheeses the average person would know. Everything tasted great, but I walked out of the class learning only a very minimal amount more about how to pair wine and cheese by myself.
Generous cheese samples, snacks, and wine refills, and fun instructor!
I thought the leader of the course was awesome. I think her name is Beth Ann. She was so friendly, open, and really gave off a wonderful vibe. The ONLY thing that marred the experience was the rudeness of the attendees. Almost every couple thought it was perfectly acceptable to chat throughout. Beth Ann said nothing and I understand but it was incredibly rude and distracting - at certain points she had to raise her voice to be heard. If there was any way for Murrays to ask that people refrain from chatting while it was going on that would be great but I'm sure they can't. Also, it's just common sense when someone has the floor and is there to tell you something, it's polite to pay attention. But this is "generation entitled" and they have zero manners. I definitely want to take another course and I will make sure to sit in the front again.
It was pretty good. I'd taken one at Le Grand Triage that I liked better. The vibe there was cooler - classroom in a wine store, he had jazz playing, it just seemed more like a night out that this one which was upstairs at Murray's and felt a lot like a classroom. The people were quite nice though and I did learn a lot. The other students were friendly too - we had a good time all in all. One thing I would suggest though -- the cheese guy should wear a collared shirt. An old t-shirt seems way too casual to be up in front of a class. I know everybody is pretty sloppy now but I think how you dress reflects your attitude about the subject, so c'mon put on a decent shirt!
Felt like whiskey/cheese pairing was a bit of a stretch. Whiskeys were great, cheeses were great but not sure about the pairing.
I loved it! Tours are capped to 12 persons, and we broke to 6 at a time to view/hear about smaller rooms. The guide seemed very knowledgeable and welcomed questions. The tasting after the tour was delightful and included wonderful descriptions of the plated samples. The tasting guide seemed very knowledgeable and welcomed questions. If you love cheese and the proprietor's description piques your interest do it! Murray's has done a wonderful job in structuring the tour and seeing the rooms where cheese is aged with explanation is very informative.
I really enjoyed this class, I've taken some classes at Murray's before but the bootcamp is really great if you want to be in this field. The instructors are very good at breaking down the science and making it actually fun to learn. I had a great time and my only complaint is that is was only 3 days cause a week of this would have been amazing!
I liked it but it seemed a little expensive for the value. We were seated all the way at the back, and the wine portions were pretty stingy. I understand that it is a wine "tasting" - but you'd expect slightly more generous pours when you're paying that much for a class. Everything felt very rushed as well, like they were trying to get us out quickly (they even ended the class early). That being said, the cheese was delicious!!!