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.' --Rob
Very knowledgeable hosts, absolutely over-the-moon delicious food and wine pairing. Very informative, definitely recommend. Come prepared to drop some cash afterwards, there will be new foods you cannot live without!
Really enjoyable and informative. Enjoyed it very much. Thank you!! Jack Oliva.
My girlfriend and I had a great time. The experts were really informative. We liked all of the pairings except for one, which gave us a better perspective on good vs. not so good spirits + cheeses. Definitely going to keep an eye out for future classes here!
The class was great! Everything was delicious, the instructors were so fun yet still taught me so much and the place was so cute. I am so happy with the class, I definitely got my money's worth!
Becky was awesome - the perfect blend of humor and knowledge!
Really really great person leading the class - great pairings and in general a merry time. Not a ton of food though for the cost of the class.
Great education! Would have liked better wines.
Had so much fun! Relaxed, fun, and informative atmosphere :)
The class was excellent. Teachers were so knowledgeable and the wine and cheese was delicious. Would recommend!
I found the class great for beginners but the class leaders need to assert some class control as the back row of the class treated the class as a Saturday night out at a bar making it difficult to hear what the class leaders were saying.