Monday Jul 23rd, 6:30pm
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.'
Hi there. I am actually very disappointed in this class. It was listed as “French wine and cheese 101“ but in the end, it was a cheese class with some wine paired with cheese. It wasn’t satisfying wine, there was even a cider, and two dessert wines out of 6 drinks. We learned nothing about wine as the instructor was a cheese specialist only and seemed to have haphazardly selected wines only as an afterthought to the cheese. This is not what I expect in rolling in a French wine and cheese course. It was not about wine at all, and wine is why I had signed up for the class. I realize it was that was at Murray’s cheese, so that cheese would be more prominent than perhaps other wine courses, but this had nothing to do with wine and it came up under wine classes when I searched on course horse. I would not have signed up for this class if I understood what it was. This is a mislabeled class and it is misleading. I was not the only participant who was confused and disappointed. I wish I had not spent the money.
Wonderful instructer (Melissa), great content and flow, and I really enjoyed the process as well as what came with the price of the class. Would absolutely do it again!
We had a great time at this class. A relaxed and open setting that invited questions and discussion. I felt feeling more knowledgeable when faced with 350 different cheeses to choose from!
This was a lovely experience! The wines and cheeses were amazing and the experts were knowledgeable and fun. The only reason I left off one star is because 90 minutes was fairly long for 6 wines and cheeses, and the seating area was tight - one person spilled a wine because the next participant’s arm was in the way. It was difficult to pass water, nuts or fruit without hitting someone or their wine.
Yes, we learned the essentials of making mozzarella but it was a very basic class ... a social event. My cheese was very rubbery. The whole point of learning to actually “make” the cheese was to make the beautifully tender fresh cheese. Didn’t happen. Lots of wine, charming, funny teacher. But a brief order of steps could have been provided. I’m sure the whole group was pleased, I wasn’t.
Great instructor, very knowledgeable, answered all our annoying questions :) liked that the wine kept flowing also
Had a great time! Good class to learn the basics and the teachers were very knowledgeable.
Very informal and fun! Found a few cheeses I liked.
Instructor was well informed and knew an unbelievable amount of information regarding products being tasted.
Monday Jul 23rd, 6:30pm
Tuesday Jul 24th, 6:30pm
Wednesday Jul 25th, 6:30pm
Thursday Jul 26th, 6:30pm
Friday Jul 27th, 6:30pm
Saturday Jul 28th, 1pm
Saturday Jul 28th, 3pm
Sunday Jul 29th, 2pm
Wednesday Aug 1st, 6:30pm
Thursday Aug 2nd, 6:30pm
Friday Aug 10th, 6:30pm
Tuesday Aug 14th, 6:30pm
Saturday Aug 18th, 11am
Wednesday Aug 22nd, 6:30pm
Saturday Aug 25th, 3pm
Sunday Aug 26th, 2pm
Friday Aug 31st, 6:30pm
Saturday Sep 1st, 1pm
Thursday Sep 13th, 6:30pm
Tuesday Oct 23rd, 6:30pm