Shavuot is upon us, the holiday that marks when the Israelites were given the Torah on Mount Sinai. There are many ways to celebrate, including attending an all-night Torah study session or reading from the Book of Ruth. And then, of course, there’s the consumption of cheesecake.

Not only cheesecake, but a whole range of dairy-based dishes. As to why, the prevailing belief is that, having received the Torah, the Jews understood there were rules about separating dairy and meat, but didn’t yet have the wherewithal to observe those rules. To play it safe, they decided to stick with dairy.

But why does the consumption of dairy always seem to involve other ingredients—why not celebrate simply, with a plate of excellent cheeses? With that question, and many others, we visit Murray’s Cheese Shop, a venerated New York institution, to talk to wholesale manager Scott Brenner.