Are you a turophile? The word refers to a lover of cheese, and my wife and I most certainly qualify. We like hard cheese, soft cheese, mild cheese, sharp cheese and stinky cheese. We often forsake dessert in a fine restaurant in favor of a final cheese course. And a good cheese shop turns us into the proverbial kids in a candy store.
Las Vegas turophiles got some good news recently when New York’s legendary Murray’s Cheese opened a satellite cheese section in the Smith’s on Las Vegas Boulevard (at Windmill Lane). Murray’s opened in Greenwich Village in 1940, and in 2008 partnered with Smith’s parent company, Kroger. The local outlet carries about 150 different cheeses.
To find out what’s hot in the cheese world right now I spoke with Logan Class, a division chief specialist for Smith’s who works with the folks at Murray’s. The cheese monger says the popularity of various cheeses is often tied to the weather. “In summertime, when it’s hot, people aren’t going to make a casserole,” he explains. “It’s more like salads and light grilling. So a lot of people are getting feta and blue cheese for salads, and blue cheese and cheddar for burgers.”
With that in mind, we asked Class to recommend three styles of cheese to enjoy as Valley temperatures climb into the triple digits. Or you can just do what I plan to do and spend some time eating your way through the free samples at Murray’s.
Murray’s carries Real Greek brand feta made from 100 percent sheep’s milk from Greece. “A lot of the fetas we see in the States are actually made here,” Class says. “They’re very salty, not very complex. But Real Greek feta ($13 a pound) is very tasty and very creamy with a little bit of salinity to it.” He recommends using it in salads, or to create a Greek-themed burger with olives and spinach.
“Cheddar’s always great,” Class says. “People love to snack on cheddar, just love to eat it [plain]. But it’s also great for grilling season on a burger. And mac and cheese is a good side for summer.” He recommends reaching for Murray’s aged English or Irish cheddar (both $13 a pound) for melting. If you want something bolder, he suggests seeking out Collier’s Welsh cheddar ($13).
This sheep’s milk cheese from the island of Cypress can be thrown directly on the grill without melting. “It’s awesome: You can kind of char it and add some more flavor to it,“ Class says. “It’s kind of like paneer, which is used in Indian dishes. But it has a little more flavor.” Look for Mt. Vikos ($11 for 8 ounces).