Wednesday Jun 7th, 6:30–8pm Eastern Time
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 concept of the class was great and something we were looking forward to. The sampling of different cheeses in different states, along with the bubbly/wine was a nice touch. We have done a number of cooking classes in our hometown as well as other cities we have travelled to. None of these classes involved cheese or in this case making a specific cheese, so it might not be a fair comparison. The other classes were instructor lead and participatory, just like this one. However, the process was laid out in steps, with the instructor giving you direction for each step. This class was watching the instructor go through all the steps and then we were allowed to start. It was easy for her since she has done this multiple times in the past. But for a first timer it was very confusing, trying to remember what was said and then try to duplicate the steps. And it didn't go very well, with each of our efforts resulting in a less than acceptable finished cheese. Since we took it with us as we left, we both threw our "finished product" in the trash. The class was also very messy dealing with the cheese and water. It would have been nice to have some protection/covering (aka an apron) to protect our clothes as both of us experienced some splashes and spots on our clothes that were supposed to be worn again during our vacation. I doubt we will try this at home based on our experience, and instead just go out and purchase the cheese when we have the occasion to serve it. For the money, this was a total bust. We had hoped for more.
Very informative, teachers were nice and did a great job, delicious cheese and wine!
The class was great, super informative and fun!
Fun experience, great information, delicious mozzarella! Staff was friendly.
I loved the class!
What an absolutely perfect afternoon! This class was fun, informational, delicious and lovely. Our instructor was so knowledgable, witty, helpful and warm. What blew me away was how well it was prepped and run. From the wine and tasting to the actual making and the gifts to take home, it was an incredible experience that exceeded my expectations.
Very educational and fun! Learned a lot and the food was delicious!
Had a great time learning about cocktails and cheese!
cheese was great, class was boring/video was low quality
Hope they do more classes like this!
Wednesday Jun 7th, 6:30–8pm Eastern Time
Thursday Jun 8th, 6:30–8pm Eastern Time
Friday Jun 9th, 6:30–8pm Eastern Time
Saturday Jun 10th, 5:30–7pm Eastern Time
Wednesday Jun 14th, 6:30–8pm Eastern Time
Saturday Jun 10th, 2:30–3:30pm Eastern Time
Saturday Jun 17th, 5:30–7pm Eastern Time
Wednesday Jun 21st, 6:30–8pm Eastern Time
Friday Jun 23rd, 6:30–7:30pm Eastern Time
Saturday Jun 24th, 5:30–7pm Eastern Time
Wednesday Jul 12th, 6:30–8pm Eastern Time
Wednesday Jul 5th, 6:30–8pm Eastern Time
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