Cheese Education: Cheese Books that Rock
I work in a wine bar, cook for winemaker events, and cater on occasion, so I am no stranger to people asking about my favorite wine or cookbooks. After all, writers have penned so much on the topics that one could build a stack of books at least as high as a a hundred Empire State buildings. Recommendations are also especially helpful when some wine books out there have the power to kick start a sleep session faster than a bottle of NyQuil.
But only recently have people started to ask me about my favorite cheese books. This could be because there have been a smattering of volumes released within a year or two that have caught the public eye, or it could be because the cheese bounty in the United States is growing and people can't help but rejoice and notice. Either way, this is good.
Here are seven books about or related to cheese that I love. While this doesn't begin to cover all of my favorites, it does divulge some books that have recently caught or have always kept my attention. I hope you enjoy them too.
Cheese Books Galore
Mastering Cheese is the big daddy. It has the basics, and much, more more. It's one to which I refer back when I need a reminder why triple-creme cheese has less fat than their labels say (bonus!) or to find out which milking animal has more of which vitamins in their milk. Or to read about Capriole or Jasper Hill or... Here's an interview with author Max McCalman from "It's Not You, it's Brie."
The Cheese Chronicles trails Murray's cheesemonger, buyer and educator Liz Thorpe's visits to some of the best cheesemakers in the United States. It says a lot about American cheese and the devotion of its cheesmakers to perfecting their craft, as it does about Thorpe's expertise and love for the subject. It's lively and inspired, and also a fantastic culinary memoir.
Cheesemonger, by Gordon Edgar, is one of my favorite books, period. Using humor as a guiding force, Edgar links his love for cheese to social activism and explains how what many see as nothing more than fermented milk can inspire a full and aware life. And it's flippin funny.
An oldie but a goodie, Home Cheese Making is a great guide to making cheese in your own kitchen. I've tried to make cheese with other books and have found a wrong temperature in a recipe or two that has thrown off my efforts. Then I end up frustrated. This one is exact. And has abundant recipes inside for the gorgeous cheeses on the cover.
I know, it's kind of cheating. The River Cottage Preserves Handbook is not about cheese. But it loves cheese. The recipes within it, like Melissa's chestnut jam and apple-flower jellies want to be paired with Sierra Mountain Tomme and Garrotxa, for example. So does the ale chutney. Expect to see some trial recipes from this book on the blog in the future.
Laura Werlin's The Cheese Essentials covers, well the cheese essentials. It breaks down why a washed-rind is called a washed-rind and how to find other varieties like Époisses if you are hooked. It also has some great recipes for cheese accouterments, like pan forte. It is simple, friendly, easy to use, and Werlin does a great job in explaining why certain cheeses are how they are (nature vs. nurture?).
Goat Song tells the story of novelist Brad Kessler's move from the city to the Vermont countryside to make cheese and raise goats, in vivid detail. Seriously, goat mating is described down the italicized T. It's real, honest, and a great book. Kessler's a skilled writer who explains his devotion to husbandry, why he and his wife moved from Manhattan to make goat cheese, and the profound impact the decision and the animals have had on his life.
What are your favorite cheese books?