In 2012, Murray's Cheese opened mini-shops in three Houston-area Kroger locations. Since then my quality of life has doubled (my LDL cholesterol levels have probably tripled). Even though I'm lucky enough to have an amateur cheesemonger for a husband, I still frequent Murray's outposts, particularly for their soft, often stinky cheeses. Here are my five favorites:
5. Bûcheron. At nearly $18 apound, Bucheron is far more expensive than your typical goat cheese, but think of it as two fromages for the price of one. A creamy, sharp rind layer circumscribes a slightly tart, flaky interior, providing a pleasurable textural juxtaposition. Pair with a heartier oat or rye cracker for maximum satisfaction.
4. Fromager D'Affinois with Garlic & Herbs. With the addition of some botanical spices, Fromager D'Affinois transforms from a mild, brie-like confection into a more savory, complex cheese. It's fine and dandy with bread or crackers, though even better paired with a sharp mustard or used on sandwich of smoked meats.
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3. Cambozola. Although I tend to be a harsh critic of food portmanteaux, I readily forgive the makers of "cambozola," a hybrid of gorgonzola and camembert. Its sharp, almost vinegary taste is tempered by a smooth, friendly spreadable texture. Cambozola is remarkable with Ritz crackers and performs even better crumbled on top of gnocchi.
2. Saint Angel. The aptly named Saint Angel is a divine-tasting triple crème cheese -- and in case you don't speak the French, that means "triple cream." Unsurprisingly, this pungent, very fatty cheese is likely to melt in your hand before it melts in your mouth, so find some sesame crackers, stat, to corral the delicious ooze.
1. Époisses. Really, really stinky and really, really good. Époisses is aged for many, many years in French caves, which is how it acquires its distinctive, strangely appealing stench (some liken it to feet, in a good way), buttery brown rind, and runny mouth-feel. Each small wheel is packaged in a cute balsa-wood box that serves the practical purpose of shielding non-lovers. But this measure wasn't good enough for French transportation officials, who banned it from public transit.