Murray's Cheese reply to my "fuzzy green mold"
Yesterday I eagerly opened up the box from Murray's that my husband ordered for my birthday. I had torn out this article from WJS before xmas about the Torus goat cheese and honey combo... he remembered http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...
When it arrived, it looked like the attached pic. I was horrified. Granted, I don't eat bleu cheese...but I'm i've never seen any of my husband's bleu have fuzzy green spots all over it. When I called Murray's this morning, they said that's the way their cave master likes it. Sure enough, they sent me a pic from their cave, also attached. Well...he's right about that...green mold spots on the outside. But I don't see anything like that at Vermont Butter and Cheese (the maker) website: http://www.vermontcreamery.com/the-st... nor on Murray's site.
The customer service gentleman was pleasant, and quickly agreed to refund the order, but I'm still just amazed. The cynic in me thinks this is the same cheese WSJ tasted in December and now that its gone bad they want to keep selling it and manufactured this "we like it better this way" story. But I've always been a huge fan of theirs and never had a problem before. What say you?
Yikes! I would contact Vermont Creamery directly and attach the pictures and Murray's response. They may want to discontinue doing business with an purveyor that will take it upon themselves to alter their carefully-crafted cheeses. While the Murray's cave master may, indeed, genuinely prefer the cheese in that condition, that is most likely not what most customers are expecting when they order that particular product.
PS happy birthday! And how sweet of your husband to remember and choose such a thoughtful gift!
Matthew here from Murray's! I just want to chime in here since this is a unique issue and we want to be sure you understand what's happening here.
That's certainly not the same cheese from December...we get twice weekly deliveries direct from the farm. The person you spoke with is partly right, the mold is perfectly fine and in no way harmful or off-putting in flavor. That said, it’s not necessarily the preferred result of aging this cheese, but mold jumping between caves is a thing that sometimes happens in small-scale affinage. We have people devoted to monitoring the mold growth on cheeses daily, but occasionally new molds will grow in transit.
We can definitely send you a fresh version of the Torus, but we really do feel the slightly aged version has superior flavor.
As for other commenter here, we actually worked very closely with VBC on this exact project and I assure you, they're well-aware of what's happening in the Murray's Cheese Caves!
Thanks - please feel free to contact me directly Danna if you'd like to discuss - firstname.lastname@example.org
Good to know, and my apologies for just looking at the picture on the website and not having read the full description about the VBC partnership with Murray's regarding "green cheese."
I just personally dislike blue cheese, and would have been horrified if I had ordered something that looked like the picture on the website and received a cheese with spots of mold. Again, I apologize for jumping to conclusions and I am glad that Murray's has attentive customer service that was able to give some clarification to the matter.
Actually, I think that VBC is not referring to "green" the color, but using the term to mean fresh or un-aged.
Interestingly, I found this quote in a NYTimes story on affinage... http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/05/din...
"The cave management at Murray’s has won praise from Adeline Druart, the cheese maker at the Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery, which now sells Murray’s some of its rindless young crottins for a quick rumspringa in Greenwich Village.
“They know cheese so well,” she said. “Those green cheeses are our little babies. We wouldn’t give them to someone who’d put it in a cellar where the cheese would turn blue and go rancid.”
I think that's exactly what happened, but then...I imagine the guys at Murray's know a hell of a lot more than I do about cheese, so...who knows? I'm still a bit confused as to whether fans of this approach would scrape off the fuzzy stuff before eating, or just chow down.
So much of cheesemaking is concerned with encouraging the growth of molds that contribute to desirable flavor while, at the same time, keeping objectionable molds at bay. Molds are everywhere, and Murray's is right to say that they can easily jump from one cheese to another. Generally speaking, blue/green molds on the rind are not dangerous. If you're asking if I would eat them, no. I would cut them out along with a little of the paste below them. I certainly wouldn't throw out a wheel of cheese like the ones in the pictures you posted.
By the way, thanks for posting the very interesting article from the NYT. Not much love in it for Steve Jenkins and Fairway, is there?
I find the NYT test a little amusing - the only taste critique was of the epoisse the others seem to be visual inspection items - judging by the comments it seems like not really a serious test since they seem to have known about the issue involved and where the cheeses came from.
I have had good and bad luck over the years at both Murrays and Fairway. i think its possible to get very good cheeses at both and also occasionally cheeses that are a bit past their peak or are otherwise disappointing.. I have never bought epoisse or similar at either since I really doubt the turnover on this very delicate item - we tend to buy it from fromage.com as an annual treat.
Yup, I understood their use of the term "green" to mean young and un-finished.
The Murray's representative who responded seems to acknowledge that the mold was not necessarily the intended result, but nonetheless improves the flavor.
You state in the OP that you do not eat blue cheese. In that case, I would take them up on their offer to replace the cheese. Contact them directly-- they seem pretty responsive.
Update: This morning Murray's emailed me a copy of the response they received from Vermont Butter and Cheese regarding the surface mold. VBC agrees that this blue mold happens from time to time, and is "ok and normal".
I'm impressed that Murray's took the time and cared enough to double-check with their supplier that this was acceptable. Kudos to their customer service.
Now, I still think it was a poor decision to send out a product that's in a very different state from that advertised, and apparently one that would require significant chunks of an expensive piece of cheese to be cut away. Nonetheless, it appears Murray's can be counted on to stand behind their products.