More Books on Cheese Eating

June 3, 2011

There has been a boom in food blogs and books, as is evident with five new cheese books published in the last two years and available at my public library. I also blogged about six books last year and highlighted a few on pairing cheese with wine or beer.

Cheeses of the World by Roland Barthelemy and Arnaud Sperat-Czar, 2001

First off, this book was originally written and published in France, and had to be translated to English. This book is divided into seasons and placement of pastures (alpine for example), and does talk a little about style and technique, but all of the cheeses in here are European based and would be difficult to find here. Sure, there are cheeses like Gorgonzola that I’ve heard of, but for every one, there are ten that I am unfamiliar with. It is not until you hit page 199 that they list 1,200 cheeses from around the world in a table format indicating a cheese family, cheese, country, area of origin, animal species of milk, raw or pasteurized milk, farm or factory product, and optimal maturation. However, non-European cheeses are few and far between. There is a chapter in here about having wine and cheese. The index is only for the cheeses listed in the book, and nowhere in the book are cheeses referenced geographically to allow you to only find cheeses of a particular place. I really wouldn’t recommend this book unless traveling through Europe or you are curious about seasons and its affect on cheese, and I’m still not sure about giving that big of a recommendation. I’m sure it is a very good book in France.

Cheese: Exploring Taste and Tradition by Patricia Michelson, 2010

I think the index sums this book up quite nicely because it is pretty orderly book. The introduction talks about cheese, molds, styles, fat content, nutritional value, and gluten intolerance (I did not know blue cheeses are not gluten-free due to the bread molds used, or how some fresh cheeses use flour as thickeners). The rest of the book is all about cheese regions, starting with the British Isles, France, Alpine, Italy, Spain and Portugal, the rest of Europe, USA and Canada, and Australia and New Zealand. Each region is divided into sub regions, such as highlighting the Somerset Cheddars or a particular state in the US. The last chapters of the book talk about appreciating cheese, including storage, serving, what to serve with cheese as a cheese board. Then there is a chapter on cheese and drinks, highlighting red wine, white wine, port, champagne, sauternes (sweet wine), beer, cider, and scotch whiskey. This section, however, lead me to discover a huge flaw with the book: there is no index, only a directory of cheeses by region. For cider, she recommended Pont l’Évêque cheese, which I found faster on the internet than trying to figure out it was from France in the directory. The last chapter in the book contains 68 pages recipes. The first section is making and flavoring cheeses such as labneh, fresh ricotta, Fontainebleau, camembert au Calvados, blue cheese butter, Gorgonzola torte, and triple crème with walnuts. The rest is for sauces, dips, and soups; light meals, main meals, tarts, salads and sides, and desserts, breads and biscuits. It has lots of colorful pictures, but overall, I kind of feel like this book would end up being a coffee table book or sit in a bookcase untouched after the initial $35 purchase. I think Cheese: A Visual Guide to 400 Cheeses with 70 Recipes reviewed below would be a better purchase at $25.

Cheese: Identification, Classification, Utilization by John W. Fischer, 2011

This book was published by the Culinary Institute of America, where the author serves as a hospitality educator and maître d’ instructor. Knowing this, one realizes this is not going to be an average cheese atlas book, but instead a book geared more towards culinary consumption. Chapters include “Why Cheese” (milk, ingredients, making of cheese, rind, artisan vs industrial), fresh and young cheeses, mild aged cheeses, medium strength and nutty cheeses, strong and stinky cheeses, cooking with cheese (why won’t this cheese melt and recipes), “what’s with this cheese?” and a few extras at the end. I laugh a little at the “Why Cheese” introduction, as they have 11 pictures of bovines (no goats or sheep), half of which are bulls and all are photos of beef cattle with the exception of the drawing of the Holstein.

The cheese chapters have a picture of the cheese, followed by a short description talking about where it originated, where it is now produced, the texture, taste, and other properties of the cheese, and how it might be cooked, so it strips away  some of the extra stuff and gets down to consumption. Throughout the book are a few pages on a particular country with its various states/providences to help one get a feeling where a region is located, but regions of cheese is not the focus of the book, as evident in the style organization.

As for “what’s with this cheese?”, it talks about how cheese doesn’t always play nicely with wine, but wine or beer from the same region as the cheese could, or dessert wines paired with salty cheeses. He gives a shout out to Laura Werlin’s books before talking about stinky cheese and wine, and also beer and cheese. He moves on to other things bread, balsamic, fruit, honey, olives, nuts, and putting together a cheese plate or cart. Of course, that means cutting, serving, and storing. He discusses “when good cheese goes bad” and buying cheese.

The last sections include a glossary, readings and resources, websites, a quick reference table by chapter (cheese, milk type, origin, rind, paste, age, culinary uses), resources list, and an index.

I like how this is a book about eating cheese, and how it cuts to the chase about eating the cheese. I feel this is a very efficient book on the subject, as other books can be overwhelming with so much information.

Cheese: A Visual Guide to 400 Cheeses with 70 Recipes by Juliet Harbutt and Roz Denny, 2009

The introduction start out with the usual of kinds of milk, making cheese, types of cheese, with a few extras that are normally found in the back of a book, including a page on wine and cheese pairings and creating the perfect cheeseboard. Then the book launches into cheeses of the world, organized by country and then alphabetically by cheese with a picture of some of the cheeses. This includes France, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, India and the Middle East, USA, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. This list has me impressed, as it covers a little more of the globe, and even more of Europe, than most cheese atlases do. It also recognizes that places outside of the original place can make a decent version of that kind of cheese, such as New Zealand doing a cheddar.

The recipe section has soups, savouries [sic] and snacks, salads and vegetable dishes, main meals, vegetarian dishes, pastries, pizzas, and pasta, and desserts and bakes. Each recipe has a picture of the finished product along with a few pictures of the process to make it.

The back of the book has places around the world to shop for cheese, but I find the list laughably small. There is also an index, which has both the cheeses and ingredients in alphabetical order together.

I’m impressed with this book compared to other cheese atlases, and the cook book section is pretty decent as well. However, my first impression of the book was, “Wow, this is cumbersome,” because it is a tall and wide book.

The Great Big Cheese Cookbook, 2009 

Nobody is stepping up to claim they wrote this book, or even that they edited this book. The best that I can figure out is that it was sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

On to the actual book: The introduction has a section on cooking with cheese, choosing, handling, storing, freezing, cutting, and general rules. What is a new information is a table in alphabetical order of a cheese that a recipe called for, but you can’t find it, so they provide a substitution, such as a light tasting Havarti instead of a farmer’s cheese. The recipe section of the book is broken down into breakfast, appetizers, soups and sandwiches, sides and salads, main dishes, pasta and pizza, and desserts, and there are few pictures scattered between. The last chapter is on finding the perfect pairing, which is a two page table with a few cheeses and suggested wine AND beer pairings for that cheese. The index lists ingredients, so if you want to make something with sauerkraut, there are three recipes. It is a decent cookbook with more than 300 recipes, though it boasts being from chefs I’ve never heard of.


The Guide to West Coast Cheese by Sasha Davies, 2010

The subtitle to this book boasts, “More than 300 Cheeses Handcrafted in California, Oregon, and Washington”, so my expectation is kind of a new and expanded Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest (though without Idaho and British Columbia). Smartly, the book starts with a map of each state with the various cheese creameries, and then talks about the history of cheesemaking on the west coast and by state.  It talks about popular breeds of cattle, goats, and sheep for making cheese, along with how much each species will milk, and how much of that milk will actually yield cheese. It talks a little bit about herd management, certifications, and other ingredients to cheese before getting into a brief description of the general cheesemaking process. Then the book moves on to cheese types, cheese tasting, pairing cheeses, serving, and storing. Finally, it gets to the individual cheeses, indicating the milk species and beverage pairing suggestion with large icons that make it really easy to flip though the book looking for a cheese to pair with an IPA or a Riesling. It also includes a table for style, size/shape, raw/pasteurized, coagulant, aging time, availability, farmstead or creamery, certifications, similar cheeses, and then finally a description. Each cheese is listed alphabetically, so it is a little difficult to find what cheeses a specific producer makes. Each cheese really only gets half a page to discuss their cheeses. Overall, I think this is a cute little book and would be best for a trip to a cheese bar, which are listed in the back of the book.

3 Responses to “More Books on Cheese Eating”

  1. […] 9 is about pairing cheese with wine, cheese with beer, making a cheese board, fondue, and cooking with […]

  2. […] will add that John W Fischer included in his book Cheese: Identification, Classification, Utilization a recipe for an herb-marinated yogurt cheese as an appetizer, which was actually copied verbatim. […]

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