Wednesday Nov 21st, 6:30pm - 8pm
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.'
The first half of the class was mozzarella tasting, and the second was mozzarella making. It was the perfect length of time, unlimited wine, and very well organized. A really fun date night. It’s educational without being stuffy or boring. Would highly recommend.
The instructors were so knowledgeable and really broke down the flavor profiles for both the wines and cheeses and then gave specific reasons why the two paired so well together. We have done wine tasting courses on the East End of Long Island but never had such an educational experience. Can’t wait to book another class in the future!
I was initially scheduled to take this with a friend, but something came up somewhat unexpectedly for them and Coursehorse or Murray’s - I’m not sure which - would not allow him to transfer our tickets to another date, so I had to take this alone. Instructor was really good, but I did think this was overpriced for what you got: a 20 minute wine/cheese tasting, a 15 minute break, another 20-30 minutes watching the demonstration then making the cheese. We ended almost 20 minutes early; didn’t feel like I got $100 value out of this experience.
The cheese and chocolate were absolutely delicious! The instructors were informative, funny and very nice!
Excellent class. Not what I had expected. They gave you samples of the best cheeses to use to make the best grilled cheese sandwiches and explained why each cheese was appropriate. You then selected your cheeses for your sandwich, and they gave you accompanying toppings which were wonderful, and you chose those you liked best for your sandwich. Loved the toppings which gave a distinctive taste. You can buy cheeses and toppings at their beautiful store downtown. They serve wines which they refill as needed. Fun experience. Worth taking more than once.
Instructor was lovely, knowledgable, and funny to boot.
The seating was beyond tight and I found a long hair stuck in one of the soft cheeses and one of my wine glasses had greasy finger prints on it. Very careless mistakes for the price. Otherwise instructors were interesting.
Loved this class! Both instructors were very funny and informative. We learned so much and the wines and cheese were delicious!
I was seated in the last row and it was difficult to hear as there was quite a bit of noise in the staircase / hallway and the noisy ac. But the meat and cheese were delicious.
Wednesday Nov 21st, 6:30pm - 8pm
Saturday Nov 24th, 4:30pm - 6pm
Monday Nov 26th, 6:30pm - 8pm
Sunday Dec 2nd, 12pm - 1:30pm
Tuesday Dec 4th, 6:30pm - 8pm
Saturday Dec 8th, 4:30pm - 6pm
Sunday Dec 9th, 2pm - 3:30pm
Monday Dec 10th, 6:30pm - 8pm
Tuesday Dec 11th, 6:30pm - 8pm
Wednesday Dec 12th, 6:30pm - 8pm
Tuesday Dec 18th, 6:30pm - 8pm
Saturday Dec 22nd, 1pm - 2:30pm
Sunday Dec 23rd, 4pm - 5:30pm
Thursday Dec 27th, 6:30pm - 8pm
Friday Dec 28th, 6:30pm - 8pm
Monday Jan 7th, 6:30pm - 8pm