Book Review: Books on Consuming Cheeses

June 11, 2010

The Cheese Companion: A Connoisseur’s Guide, by Judy Ridgway and updated by Sara Hill. 2004
Starting off with a brief history of cheese, this book then talks about the regional developments of cheese. Next, a brief description about how cheese is made to help you understand different styles and how they might taste, which they then explain along with how to serve it. The rest of the book is about the different kinds of cheeses there are, arranged alphabetically. Each cheese is described, identified where it originated from, given variations (Mozzarella has Bocconcini, a cow’s milk variation sold in bowls of whey), and facts including milk, style, fat content, maturity, pungency, and a suggested wine. This is more of an encyclopedia style cheese book to help you get a general grasp of cheese varieties, complete with color pictures.

The Cheese Plate by Max McCalman and David Gibbons. 2002
This book starts with the history of cheese, describing what cheese is, and moves on to the art of cheesemaking. Then it moves into how to buy, store, and serve cheese, and is followed by how to taste cheese, cheese pairings, and cheese courses. The last part is favorite cheeses of the authors.  This book is more of a dense reading book, kind of like a textbook. It does have some good sections, but nothing to really skim.

Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins. 1996
This is a thicker encyclopedia style cheese book, though it organizes the cheeses by region. It starts off talking about the geography of cheese, and then talks about cheese, including milk, how it is made, classifications, and how to buy, store, and serve cheese. When it comes to the cheese, the chapters are by country, further broken down by region, such as the Alsace and Lorraine region in France. It talks about the region and its affect on cheese, and then the cheeses that come from there, including how to choose and serve that cheese. There are a lot of side bars and other fun facts thrown in. For the United States, it does try to list cheesemakers. In the back , there is a section on “The Great Cheeses: Ready Reference,” which gives a small summary of the cheese in alphabetical order. It has lots of pictures, but they are unfortunately in black and white.

Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials: An Insider’s Guide to Buying and Serving Cheese {with 50 Recipes} by Laura Werlin. 2007
This book has a great progressiveness to it. Werlin starts you off by introducing you to cheese, trying to give you words to use to describe what kind of cheeses you might like, and therefore guide you into selecting styles to fit your tastes. From there, there is a chapter devoted to the eight styles of cheeses: fresh, semi-soft, soft-ripened, surfaced-ripened, semi-hard, hard, blue, and washed-rind. She lists different cheeses, talks about them, lists which ones melt, what to look for when buying cheese, how to store them, and a few noteworthy ones and recipes.  This book gets you familiar with cheeses and teaches you how to buy what you like.

Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager by Max McCalman and David Gibbons. 2009
McCalman and David took their Cheese Plate book and expanded on it, taking it up a notch. If you ever wanted to work in a cheese shop, this is the text book to study to get you there. At the end of each section is a chapter review with bullet points, which are nice, but add to the textbook feel. The book is broken down into three sections: understanding real cheese, becoming a connoisseur, and talking about great artisan cheeses of the world. The first section has chapters on why cheese is good for you, expanded cheese history, more on cheese making, talking about cheese flavor, judging cheeses, milk animals, and raw milk. In the Connoisseur section, it has chapters on a visiting a cheese farm, everything you need to know about buying cheese, cheese in restaurants, putting together cheese tastings, wine and cheese, and beer and cheese. Finally, it has chapters on artisan cheeses from America, Switzerland, Iberia, Italy, France, stinky cheeses, Cheddars, blue cheeses, and Chèvre. The appendixes include appellations, US cheese makers, courses, conferences, conventions and organizations, and an index to cheeses of the world.

The New American Cheese: Profiles of America’s Greatest Cheesemakers and Recipes for Cooking with Cheese by Laura Werlin. 2000
This is more of an all around cheese book, covering a little bit of everything. It starts off talking about cheese, including how it is made, the benefits of eating cheese, how to taste cheese, how to buy and store cheese, how to pair cheese with wine and a little bit about other beverages, basic information about cooking with cheese. It has a quick reference guide about different styles of cheeses and varieties, mentioning which are good for cooking, eating, or melting. The book then moves on to recipes and creamery profiles. It has a glossary, list of cheesemakers with addresses including ones not profiled, and cheese retailers.


2 Responses to “Book Review: Books on Consuming Cheeses”

  1. […] Book Review: Books on Consuming Cheeses […]

  2. […] decided that the best book for my trip was one I had actually reviewed before called Cheese Primer.  The main reason, actually, was that the book was written by country and then by region. So […]

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