This is by far the most technical book I’ve picked up in the recent past. In fact it really made my eyes glaze over. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fantastic book – especially if you are at all really serious about making great cheese – and if so, it’s essential.
Kindstedt is a professor at the University of Vermont and the book is written in conjunction with the Vermont Cheese Council. It’s really a textbook of cheese making – and I don’t believe anything this detailed or intensely technical exists on artisan cheese making at this time. The cheese making guide is illustrated and there are in-depth discussions of ph, salt, calcium and moisture. There are chapters on milk, starter culture, pasteurization and two chapters on food safety. There is even a chapter on the business of cheese making.
Published in 1967 in the UK (I’m reviewing the American edition),- it’s a really interesting look at cheese almost 40 years ago. While I recall only very common cheeses around the grocery stores in the 70s, cheese like PagliariniGrana Padanp, Crescenza, Langres, Maroilles and even Manchego must have existed and been of sufficient interest that the Food & Wine Society included them in their book. There is a lovely (granted, very dated) dictionary of cheeses which includes some color plates with good photos. At the end of that section, French cheeses are listed in a table by region.
The Cheese and Wine section is also really interesting with pairing suggestions, but also party suggestions including one broken down into summer vs. winter and further divided by inexpensive and more expensive. There are a few pages which outline 12 tastings, giving suggestions for wine tasting parties from Vintage Ports to Loire to 10 different brands of Liebfraumilch!
Perhaps one of the most fun parts of this book is the short Chapter 5 – “Twentieth Century Chefs and their Cheese Recipes” which includes some recipes from “hot spots” mostly in London like the Savoy, Dorchester and Mayfair. About half of the book is devoted to cheese recipes – many of which are very short. From Budino Toscano to Stewed Cheese to Asparagus Milanese to “Ramequins a la Sefton” to Fried Cheese Pastie – there are some gems here you might enjoy.
Of course it’s not an essential for the library now – but it certainly must have been a fantastic and essential book in 1967!
This new cheese library essential is penned by the duo who brought us The Cheese Plate. Max McCalman Mâitre fromager of Artisanal Cheese in New York is renowned as one of the artisanal cheese experts of the world.
The new Max McCalman book is great for what it covers. It features over 200 cheeses and “is not intended to be encyclopedic, but rather a Hall of Fame.” McCalman says in the introduction that he looks for cheeses that are artisanal (handmade), organic, ecological, local, and terroir. Not all the cheeses included meet all of his criteria but he’s tried to choose the best ones.
In making choices he also considered their availability in the US and their consistency.
The book outlines a cheese by type, provenance, producers, production, appearance, similar cheeses, seasonal notes and wine pairings. The wine pairings may actually be helpful as they list both region and varietal suggested. (there is also a short master list at the beginning of “Marriages made in Heaven” – which alone might be worth the purchase price. (I agrees these four and a half pages of matches are great! - Jack) All of the cheeses are given a quality rating on a 100-point scale (there are no 100s) and also given a strength rating (i.e., Perail a 1, Gorgonzola is a 5, and Gouda a 6).
The layout is open and accessible with generally only one cheese per page. There are some unusual cheeses listed which makes it an essential for my cheese reference library (and I've bought my copy). It doesn't list Celtic Promise but it has Brescianella and some of the US cheeses. It even has one of our new favorites, Stanser Schafkase.
It only lists a handful of US cheeses – again McCalman is showcasing what he considers the Hall of Fame – so we can’t expect to find Poudre Puff, Purple Haze or D’Affinois listed. If you are a cheese afficiando, or even a casual cheese lover, this is probably the best cheese book out there for you right now. It's up-to-date and takes the guess work out of what to buy for a great cheese tonight, for a party – or for a great wine-pairing.
This is a gorgeously illustrated glossy paged book which has a wealth of information on cheese from around the world. Unfortunately I find it very hard to recommend as an essential. The book was published in 1993 and while much of the information is still valid, the selection of cheeses is not as comprehensive as it might be were it be published now.
Many of the sections, each outlining a country or region, have historical introductions. The actual 200+ cheese listings (from 37 countries) give the technical data and then a short description sometimes with a short introduction to the cheese. With 3-columns a page, the listings are not so pleasant to read.
It’s really a beautiful book to look through and it does give an in-depth overview of world cheese. There’s a lot of great information contained within but it falls sort of being comprehensive. For example you’ll find Epoisse but not Affidelice, and Ami du Chambertin is in a note about other cheeses – Abbaye de Citeaux is listed as Citeaux making it harder to find. There is no pairing information or recipes offered. In it’s favor, this a book solely about cheese, where it comes from and it’s history. Perhaps it fails in that it just tries to do too much.