A Course on Cheese

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I love a good piece of stinky cheese. I enjoy taking it out of the fridge and letting its nasty old stank peel the paint off my walls, knockout my cat, and make the local children cry. It's how you know you gots yerself sum quality cheese right there.

Unfortuneatly, I must admit, my cheese knowledge is limited to about, oh, whatever I might have picked up from a cookbook or Food Network. Thank heavens for Max McCalman, may chiors sing his spoiled milk praises! For those who don't really know this guy, he is the man and fromager (cheese brainiac) who pretty much single handedly spearheaded the idea of presenting true artisinal cheeses, cheese courses, and giving cheese the kind of credit we give to wine here in America. He has become well known for his work in the New York restaurants Picholine and Artisinal, and luckilly for those of us not living shibby in New York, has gone out of his way to create a wonderful guide to the best of the best in his second book, Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best.

While McCalman's first book, The Cheese Plate, co-authored by David Gibbons, was a chic everyperson's guide to wine and cheese pairings, Cheese simply gives us 200 of the world's best cheeses. Listed in alphabetical order, each cheese is described beautifully and concisely noting where it is produced, how it is produced, how best to enjoy it, and the underlying flavors you should expect when experiencing it. I use the word experience, because after trying some of these selections, it really is the only appropriate word that the English language can offer me. McCalman also goes ahead to offer with each cheese a variety of different wines (red, white, and blush) and even some sparkling wines that should help you wow your party guests' palates.

McCalman, also understanding our blind kitten approach to cheese, also guides you through various aspects of cheese. Early chapters deal with how to select, store, prepare, serve various kinds of cheese. Later on we are given a thurough lesson on how to pair cheese with various breads, fruits, and nuts, or how to simply lay back and enjoy a piece unmolested by any other food. Basics for how to create and serve a cheese course or a cheese tasting party will inspire you to host your own (I know I plan to have a truly stinky one shortly!). Lastly, of course, an extensive, though maybe a bit too much so, course on how to pair wine and cheese. The watchful and caring teacher, he does this in a simple, plainspoken manner, allowing any reader to understand not only how to preform each task, but the why behind it as well.

I have to say, I would not have discovered my love of Lancaster, my passion for Prattigauer, my desire for Doddington, and how I give resounding praise to Roaring 40's Blue!

Overall, I give Cheese a 5 out of 5. This book is a wonderful addition to any food lover's bookshelf. It's succinct, informative, and covers a wide variety of cheeses you can find from California to Italy.


  1. They sound like awesome cheeses. Right now I have a little fetish for Roaring 40's Blue. It's a colorful, and striking blue cheese from (I think) Oregon.

  2. jeez, you're funny......I have made it a point to go through your entire blog this week, so expect comment overload...... K?



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