Cheese Book Reviews

For Cheese Lovers

It's rare to find a comprehensive cheese book. The closest thing in this list would be the The Cheese Companion: A Connoisseur's Guide. My second choice (for more advanced cheese hunters) would be Max McCalman's new Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best. When I pick up a cheese I’m not familiar with I first head to my cheese library and check the indices. If you are looking for a specific cheese, check out our Master Cheese List.

Looking for a US cheese? The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese by Jeffrey P. Roberts.

In full color with 400 pages and 345 US cheesemakers.

The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese

The Great: It's beautifully done with great profiles of artisan cheese makers in the US. The listings are both descriptive and concise. The organization is by region but the book is extensively well cross indexed. The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese easily becomes the first book I look at for details on a United States made cheese. The listings are detailed and include complete contact information and the varieties of cheese produced.

The not-so: If you are looking for discussions on individual Cheeses you will need to look elsewhere, this book focuses on cheese makers just giving brief details on cheeses that they make. Although, the book is in color and there are photos throughout, there are not tons of photos of cheese, the photos show Cheese caves, farms, cheese makers, etc.

Overall: Must own, Highly Recommended.

The Murray's Cheese Handbook

by Rob Knafelt

Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City is one of three US affineurs and is a cheese lover's haven. Release in early 2007, this cheese book is worth serious consideration:

The Murrays Cheese Handbook

The Great: This little guide offers quick reference for more than 300 cheese noted as Ron Knafelt's favorites, It also does an admirable job of covering the more readily available and popular cheeses, as well as the less well known available ones. The profiles are brief, giving type/origin and then offering essential information on each cheese, closing with a wine pairing.

The Murray's Cheese Handbook is well cross-indexed and also has a glossary, help with cheese plates, and choosing cheese. It would be easy to tuck this into a purse or pocket and head out. I really like that feature.

Overall a highly recommended addition to a cheese book collection and makes a great gift for a cheese lover.

The Not So: A couple of cheeses I thought to look for were not listed (but most were). There are no photos of any of the cheeses. The book is printed in 2-color.

The Cheese Companion: A Connoisseur’s Guide

by Judy Ridgway (Ari Weinzweig, foreword

The Cheese Companion: A Connoisseur's Guide - Ridgway

This little book (it’s about 8.5" tall) is one of the most useful cheese books I’ve encountered. This book focuses on the world’s best known cheeses. It’s reasonably up-to-date – the new second edition was published in the Fall of 2004.

Many of the cheeses in the directory are easily found in cheese shops and at good cheese counters. So, when you bring home a cheese, you’ll likely find a listing for it in this book.

The first 50 pages outline history of cheese in various countries and how cheese is made and how to classify it. The next 150+ pages are the directory and there is a good index at the back. From Banon to Beenleigh to Reblochon to Selles sur Cher, there’s a great number of cheeses here that you are likely to encounter in your amateur cheese hunting.

Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s wrote the introduction, so I should have known immediately that this was a book to look at, as I’ve found that his quality of educational writing on food is high. You need to own this one and it also makes a great gift! Highly Recommended!

Why you need to own it: It’s compact easy to navigate and a it’s a great reference to many of the cheeses that you’ll find at today’s better cheese counters. It doesn’t have the weird, wild, exotic or rare – but it accomplishes a lot in a small space and illustrates the cheeses that it lists well.

Criticism: The lengthy introduction to cheese including how it’s made and it’s history. Recipes are thrown in here and there often in surprising spots. Extra white space is either left white or taken up with stock-like photos. Space overall could have been better managed. You won’t find listings for D’Affinois, Celtic Promise, Adrahan, Abbaye de Citeaux, Ami de Chamerbertin.

The Definitive Guide to Canadian Artisanal and Fine Cheeses

by Gurth Pretty

This is the first book of its kind. "The most comprehensive guide to Canadian cheeses ever published" and thereby an essential reference.

The Vermont Cheese Book

by Ellen Coke-Ogden

This book is an up-to-date reference guide to Vermont cheeses and is a pleasant book to read through. Vermont cheesemakers are profiled, and besides offering facts and statistics, lovely little stories are offered for each. Profiles include the types of cheese made, a summary of information about the cheese, what makes it special, how to visit the cheesemaker, and directions (if applicable).

Most of the illustrations are in black and white, but there are a few beautiful color pages in the center, representing a number of cheeses profiled.

If you are interested in Vermont cheeses, plan to visit Vermont soon, or just wish to have a complete cheese library, then “The Vermont Cheese Book” is a wonderful choice.


The All American Cheese and Wine Book

by Laura Werlin, photographs by Andy Ryan

This is one of the better US cheese books available – and if you want to pair American cheese and American wine this one may be a must-have.

The amount of information overall is a bit daunting. There are four basic sections to the book: cheese, wine, wine & cheese, and recipes & profiles. I really think this is a good attempt at addressing which cheese to have with what wine – the ten basic steps Werlin discusses are sound directives.

The recipe section is designed to offer more a presentation or serving recipe than a cooking recipe – for example: Port Roasted Grapes on Blue Cheese toast to dried fruit compote with Brie or Gouda with Sautéed Apples and Cumin oil Crostini or Grilled Peaches with Basil Crème Fraiche – although the recipe format is as you would expect in a cookbook. Although the winery profiles make this book seem more cumbersome than it should be, the quality of the content shines.

Bottom Line: I liked this one! I need to own it – you do too!

The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley

Recipes from everything from Ricotta to Yoghurt, but I'm most interested to see her methods for Creme fraiche, sour cream, buttermilk and cultured butter.

The Cheese Course

by JanetFletcher

I was so excited when this book came out as Janet Fletcher really seems to know her cheese. Jack has taken a class with her and she writes a great column for the SF Chronicle. Yet, I was disappointed in the book, as it was not what I expected...

It's really a cheese cookbook consisting of 80 or so pages of recipes in a 108-page book. This book is wonderful for serving cheeses in a new and interesting way and incorporating cheese into a meal – it’s just not what I expected and what I had hoped for. I was hoping for a huge glossary of cheeses - perhaps a compilation of the sort of thing she writes for the SF Chronicle (fingers crossed someday that will appear). It’s a fun book and is for those who want to know more about the cheese they are currently enjoying.

Cheese: A Complete Guide to Over 300 Cheeses of Distinction

by Juliet Harbutt

Another essential reference by Ms. Harbutt. The downfall of this book is that there are very few pictures. Most of the cheeses are 3-up on a page with no photos except for the “big guys” like Gorgonzola, Cheddar, Emmenthal, Manchengo, etc. Granted in a world of few essential cheese reference books I’ll happily take what I can get. You’ll find a cheese like Caciotta in here and Pave D’affinois.

Cheese Primer

by Steven Jenkins

This book is sorely out of date (Novemeber 1996) but still a somewhat useful reference. It’s all in black and white and it doesn’t focus that much on specific cheeses. It’s great for identifying cheeses but it does have some wonderful information on many popular world cheeses, which is timeless.

Basically it’s a “reader” rather than a cheese dictionary or identifier. It will really give you a great idea of cheese regions of the world and some of it’s cheesemakers.

The Cheese Bible

by Christian Teubner, Heinrich Mair-Walburg, Friedrich-Wilhelm Ehlert

A new hardcover edition of this book was released in fall of 2009. There is only 90 pages of “encyclopedia” with the rest of the book (and majority) cheese recipes with some general commentary on cheese in your kitchen and cheese in general.

The encyclopedia part describes cheeses extremely briefly - merely mentioning them in some cases usually in comparison to other cheeses of the same type (cheeses are listed in bold type) and in other cases spending perhaps a paragraph discussing them. Plus every couple of pages there are cheeses pictured 9-up and quick descriptions.

This is certainly not an essential reference book but as there are so few cheese books available it’s still nice to have this one on the shelf. Plus the recipes are actually quite interesting with many of them great ideas for entertaining.

This is always the last book I check – but I always check it none-the-less as occasionally it has the elusive cheese listed.

Cheeses of the World

by André Louis Simon

This little gem from 1960 covers the world of cheese from England (given it’s own chapter) to less well known cheeses from countries like Iraq, Egypt, Rumania, South Africa and Turkey. Written by the founder of the International Wine and Food Society (who was a noted gastronome and oenophile of his time) the book is a wealth of fun info on how cheese was in the 50s and 60s. I don’t know how many of the cheeses no longer exist – but while many will be familiar like Limburger or Colby, Comte or Chabichou – others like Oka or Patafras or Romano Argentino may be ice-breakers.

There is a small recipe section at the back with things like Welsh Rarebit, Gnocchi, Cheese Pudding, Chester Cakes and Pulcinella. Perhaps the most fun chapter is the tiny one at the end called “the New French Cheeses” including Selles-sur-Cher and Bleu de Casses. It’s out of print so you have to track down a copy through a used bookseller.

Bottom Line: A Curiosity. A fun little book to have and talk about – you may even find a cheese in it you can’t find info on elsewhere. Not essential but interesting.

Cheese: discovering, exploring, enjoying

by Fiona Beckett, photography by David Munns

This odd book is 64 pages. The photos are beautiful but there is little text for the number of pages. The book is more like an overview of cheese, breaking cheeses into categories like soft, stinky, very young, flavored, etc.

There are chapters on exploring, buying, storing, serving, cheese plates, cheeseboards and bread, etc. All of these are very short and sweet. Quick ideas and quick overviews. Names of cheeses are mentioned but there are no details on individual cheeses.

There is material to learn from here but not depth. If that is what you are looking for - go elsewhere - this might be a nice gift for a couple afraid to learn about cheese to tip them over the edge - or quick reference on how to choose a cheese for a cheese plate but experienced cheese lovers don’t need to own it.

American Country Cheese: Cooking With America's Specialty and Farmstead Cheeses

by Laura Chenel, Linda Siegfried

Much of the cheese maker info is out of date (pub. 1989)– some don’t even exist anymore like Goat Folks of Interlaken, NY. But the cookbook portion of the book is charming with recipes for not so fancy food like popovers, gratins, grilled eggplant, butternut squash risotto, stuffed squash blossoms and asparagus salad – and party dishes like Camembert Tarts, Ricotta Custard, Fried Jack with Garlic Sauce and Blue Cheese Toasts.

The recipes are organized by utilizing one of the US cheeses featured in the book – but substitutions are given so they can be adapted to whatever cheese you like to use. The fun part of the recipes is the way cheese sneaks in – like “blue stew” a vegetable stew with blue cheese or black bean soup with pumpkin and chevre puree or wild mushrooms in cheese pastry.

Bottom Line: It’s a fun book to read through but not an essential, especially since it really screams to be updated.

The World Encyclopedia of Cheese: A Guide to the World's Cheese With a Feast of International Dishes

by Juliet Harbutt, Roz Denny

About two-thirds of is book is an encyclopedia of cheese. The last third contains recipes which incorporate cheese. With the tiny number of cheese books out there, this encyclopedia is maybe not essential, but often helpful.

This book includes cheese from Australia, Scandinavia, Cyprus, Greece the Middle East and Mexico among other cheese spots you might not have considered. There is a small color photo of each cheese and a well written description of each. The book is fun to read even when cheese is not being researched and I’m often inspired to find a cheese based on the descriptions.

Italian Cheese: A Guide to Their Discovery And Appreciation

by Piero Sardo, Robert Rubino and Angelo Surrusca (Editors)

A Slow Food Editore Publication

This book is the most comprehensive book on Italian Cheeses, making it a cheese library essential. It is published by Slow Food Editore in Italy (Chelsea Green Publishing distributes it in the USA). The new edition (January, 2006) lists 291 cheeses which is almost 100 more cheeses than the previous edition.

The book has photographs of many of the artisan, craft-made and traditionally made Italian Cheeses. It does not cover true “industrial” cheeses or at the other end of the spectrum single maker un-marketed cheeses. After a nice introduction to the family of cheeses and cheese-making, it includes a quick overview of tasting, tools, cutting and storage which is really well written as well as short dictionary of terms. The book is organized by region but the index at the back makes it easy to find the cheese you are looking for. Each region is followed by an index of producers with contact information (but no email or website).

The photos are small but very crisp and clear. Each cheese is given its own page. Many cheeses I have never seen for sale in the US – at least not yet. Some like Castelmagno, Paglierina, Piave, Gorgonzola, etc. are more easily found in cheese shops. Having some new cheeses to look for may be a great thing – every time I seem to pick up a cheese book it covers all the common cheeses I see in stores but not the rarest ones – this book definitely has some I hope to find.

On the negative side I think the guide could be improved by profiling some of the producers and also talking about variants of some of the cheeses. It might also be helpful to know a bit about “industrial” cheeses” and know what not to buy. The editore need to walk through a few US cheese shops and note what they find – and perhaps put an overview of Italian Cheese in America.

Review of the Previous Edition:

Italian Cheese: Two Hundred Traditional Types: A Guide to Their Discovery and Appreciation

by Piero Sardo (Editor)

A Slow Food Publication
An essential reference. Although a slim volume, it is the most comprehensive book on Italian cheese in English. The book has photographs and descriptions of 201 artisan, craft-made and traditionally made Italian Cheeses.

It does not cover true “industrial” cheeses, nor (at the other end of the spectrum) single maker, un-marketed cheeses. It includes a quick overview of tasting, tools, cutting and storage which is really well written as well as short dictionary of terms.

The book is organized by region but the index at the back makes it easy to find the cheese you are looking for. The photos are small but very crisp and clear. Each cheese is given its own page. Many cheeses I have never seen for sale in the US, but others seem very common. It also appears that this book has recently gone out of print.

The Cheese Plate

by David Gibbons and Max McCalman

More than half of this book expounds on cheese, history of cheese, the cheese maker and how to buy cheese (and store) and how to make a cheese plate. Reasonably so the aim of the book is to educate the reader as to how to make a cheese plate and make a cheese course and how to pair cheeses (with an extensive section on pairing wine – about 20 pages). The reference part of the book on the actual cheeses themselves is small and there are no photos. However these 50 or so pages list great cheeses (and more often than not ones that are easily acquired) – and Mr. McCalman’s recommendations and for a novice or intermediate cheeselover this makes it a fantastic book. There is also resource section at the back which lists the best cheese stores around the country as well as a list of US cheesemakers.
I would say this book is not an essential reference to look up cheeses, but is a great book for someone who entertains or wants to expand their cheese knowledge, or just make a great cheese plate.

The cheese pairing and the cheese course sections are really great. I learned a number of things from this book – like how to wash a cheese.

French Cheeses: The Visual Guide to More Than 350 Cheeses from Every Region of France

with Joel Robuchon (Foreword)

This is the only “French Cheese” book that I know of. It is not a new book, originally published in 1996, and is quite comprehensive. The latest edition is 2005. More often than not you will find the cheese you are looking for in it. It does include industrial made cheeses. Cheeses are either 2 or 3 up on a page with description, photo and even suggested wine pairing.
Throughout the book are little articles on cheesemaking and each chapter includes a small introduction to the cheese-making region, which is how the book is organized. There is an extensive index at the back as well. As a reference for a cheese lover, this is an essential volume.

The New American Cheese

by Laura Werlin, Steven Jenkins, Martin Jacobs (photographer)

This book concentrates on American cheese makers. Every cheese maker listed has a 1-2 page profile followed by at least 1 recipe. It’s reasonably up-to-date (pub. 2000) although some web info has changed or is missing. If you are looking to become a US cheese aficionado this is a good one to have on your shelf for reference. The recipes are attractive: from Four Cheese Pizza to Cinnamon Coated Panela to Jesse’s Shepherd Pie to Red Pepper Gougeres.

Bottom Line: As a US Cheese Reference – this one is great but The American Cheese and Wine book seems more complete if you have to choose between them.


The Guide to West Coast Cheese Sasha Davies

The Guide to West Coast Cheese:

More than 300 Cheeses Handcrafted in California, Oregon, and Washington

by Sasha Davies

Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager

Mastering Cheese - Max McCalman David Gibbons

by Max McCalman & David Gibbons

The maitre fromager from Artisanal 's new treatise on cheese. Covers cheese in 22 lessons (which show cheese plates) and has an index of over 300 cheeses.

A Must-have in the cheese library.

Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest:

A Discovery Guide

by Tami Parr

An in-depth guide to the region’s artisan cheeses. Profiles of individual cheesemakers offer up information about their operation and their cheeses.

The Cheese Tasting Party Kit

by Janet Fletcher with Victoria Pearson (photographer)

From the SF Chronicle Cheese columnist this party kit offers profiles of 50 cheese varieties along with suggestions for the best wines to drink with them, Labels and toothpicks are provided on which to write each cheese selection.

Fiona Beckett's Cheese Course

by Fiona Beckett

The Cheese Chronicles: A Journey Through the Making and Selling of Cheese in America, From Field to Farm to Table

by Liz Thorpe

Liz Thorpe, 2nd in command at NY's renowned Murray's Cheese, offers more than 80 profiles of American cheesemakers. Essential Reading F&B Pick!

Cheese: A Visual Guide to 400 Cheeses with 150 Recipes - The ultimate directory to the world's best cheeses and how to use them

by Juliet Harbutt

A fully illustrated reference to the cheeses of the world

Artisan Cheesemaking at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World Class Cheeses

by Mary Karlin

In a Cheesemaker's Kitchen: Celebrating 25 Years of Artisanal Cheesemaking from Vermont Butter & Cheese Company

by Allison Hooper with Steven Jenkins

A cookbook rather than cheese treatise by artisan cheesemaker and co-founder of Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. In a Cheesemaker's Kitchen is a treasury of recipes which incorporate products from VB&C. Recipes from East Coast culinary luminaries such as Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, Michel Richard of Citronelle, Dan Barber of Blue Hill and former CEO of Clicquot, Inc., Mireille Guiliano are featured.

The World Cheese Book

by Juliet Harbutt

Cheese: What it looks like, what it tastes like, where it comes from, what to do with it and why, how to choose a cheese & how best to enjoy it. With tasting notes on over 750 cheeses

The Cheeses of California: A Culinary Travel Guide

by Jeanette Hurt

Profiles California artisan cheesemakers, and California cheeses, with suggestions on where to find them and how to enjoy them. Also lincludes advice for travel, lodging, restaurants, cheese purveyors, and wineries as well as a helpful map of the cheesetrail.

American Cheeses: The Best Regional, Artisan, and Farmhouse Cheeses, Who Makes Them, and Where to Find Them

by Clark Wolf and Scott Mitchell

The Real Cheese Companion: A Guide to Best Handmade Cheeses of Britain and Ireland by Sarah Freeman

Great British Cheeses by Jenny Linford

The Cheese Room by Patricia Michelson - now in paperback

The Practice Of Soft Cheesemaking - A Guide to the Manufacture of Soft Cheese and the Preparation of Cream for the Market by C.W. Walker-Tisdale

Cheese and Cheese Making, Butter And Milk (1896) with special Reference to Continental Fancy Cheese by John Long, James Benson, John Benson

Cheese Slices

by Will Studd

I was very pleased to find Australia's authority on the world of cheese had a wonderful reference book and a series of videos! I understand we will start to see more of Will Studd in the US; his books and videos are a must-add to your cheese reference library. Worth seeking out. F&B Recommends!

Laura Werlin's Cheese Essentials: : An Insider's Guide to Buying and Serving Cheese (with 50 recipes)

by Laura Werlin,

There is a lot of great cheese information presented here, however, with 50 recipes, the book is more cookbook than cheese book, which is not all that bad, just not quite expected. Laura Werlin is a cheese expert and is a great cookbook author. She pays special attention to American cheeses and the American cheese availability (market), which I like.

The recipes chosen are all cheese related and many are fun, attractive choices, such as Chimay Bread, Asparagus Soup with Dry Jack and Prosciutto, Crispy Cheese Strata, Reblochon and Potato Tart, Flette and Acorn Squash with Stravecchio and Swiss Chard. One thing I really liked about Cheese Essentials was “The Assignment” given for tasting cheeses. Werlin calls it a take-home test. I think it is a great idea, as it gives a mini (easy) shopping list and then step-by-step instructions for tasting (and what to look for). Lots of really great cheese essentials.

The Cheeses of Wisconsin: A Culinary Travel Guide to the Best Artisan Cheesemakers in Wisconsin

by Jeanette Hurt

The culinary travel guide does an admirable job of profiling Wisconsin cheesemakers.

The Good: I have been waiting for this guide to Wisconsin cheese. They make a lot of cheese in Wisconsin and much of it is not Artisan but the cheeses which can be considered Artisan are some of the best in the Us. Ms. Hurt is enthusiastic about cheese and it shows in her careful profiling of cheesemakers and cheeses. As a focused guide on Wisconsin Artisan cheeses, this is a great addition to a cheese library.

The not-so: A lot of territory is covered in not so many pages, There are cheese maker profiles, cheese profiles, maps, travel info, recipes, pairings and cheese maker Visiting information. The information is well presented but because of space perhaps lacks some depth in places-cheese profiles are relatively brief.

It might be a great book to purchase if you were planning a trip to Wisconsin and wanted to visit cheesemakers.

Also by Jeanette Hurt with Steve Ehlers is the Complete Idiot's Guide to Cheeses of the World.

Wisconsin Cheese: A Cookbook and Guide to the Cheeses of Wisconsin

by Martin Hintz and Pam Percy

Part cookbook part Wisconsin cheese Guide.

The Everything Cheese Book: From Cheddar to Chevre, All You Need to Select and Serve the Finest Fromage

by Laura Martinez

I was happily surprised to finally find a great cheese book for beginners, and cheese veterans, with this unlikely title. Generally, when books try to do everything they accomplish little of value, however, not here. Martinez does a great job of covering cheese from history to plate, while keeping the reader’s attention. This is not a cheese dictionary; you will find some of the more popular cheeses listed in the mini-field guide.

There’s some great material presented on pairing beer and wine with cheese and it is an easy, quick reference. If you are looking for an “all about cheese” book for the intelligent, which tells about cheese, pairing, and plating, then this is a great choice. It would make a great gift for a cheese beginner, however, even a cheese lover, such as myself, can appreciate it.

The Not So: Internet resources in the Cheese Resource section is less than complete; in fact, the Cheese Resources section raises an eyebrow a few times with the glaring omissions. However, it is a good beginning or a place to start. We are disappointed that Fork & Bottle didn’t make their list. We also noticed some typos/errors; and Jack’s appraisal of the wine section was… “it could have been done better”.

The Cheese Deck: A Connoisseur’s Guide to 50 of the World’s Best

by Max McCalman & David Gibbons

The Great: Deck books are a set of cards in a small box that make a really sexy package, as well as being useful cheese reference. The cards in the cheese deck, could be left near a cheese board, allowing guests more information on the cheese laid out.

The cards are tabbed: Introduction, Cow’s Milk, Goat’s Milk and Sheep’s Milk, Mixed Milk, Cheddars, Robiola, and Triple Creams. Cards are similar in format to the profiles in Max McCalman’s larger book, which I love, and include lots of valuable information, notes, and wine pairings. Cards are easily taken to a store for help in selection of a cheese or cheese plate. They are full-color and include a photo of the cheese. Some of them fold-out.

The Not So: There are only 50 cheeses profiled. There is no index, so you may have to pull a few cards before you get the right one. Further, the cards are not cross-indexed, so that a cheese found under triple creme is not also listed in the cow's milk section, for example.

Overall: Fun and makes a great gift. I love the Cheese Deck even with the limitations noted it is a useful, well thought-out and helpful cheese accessory.

Cheese & Wine: A Guide to Selecting, Pairing and Enjoying

by Janet Fletcher

The Great: Janet Fletcher, the SF Chronicle's excellent cheese columnist, focuses on seventy cheeses in this book. The lovely photographs accompany a nice selection of the higher-quality, popular cheeses. The pairings come from time-tested experience and there’s a few succinct pages on what to look for in pairing cheese with wine. (Bravo! - Jack) There is also a very useful, two-page spread which pairs cheese types with wine varietals.

The main section of the book focuses on cheeses to know (cheese profiles), along with six cheese suggested platters. As most of the cheeses are relatively easy to find (in California, at least), the cheese plates should be easy to assemble.

The Not So: There are only 70 cheeses profiled. The accompanying text is a snapshot history and story of the cheese, but lacks a bit of the depth of Fletcher’s SF Chronicle column.

The Cheese Lover’s Companion

by Sharon Tyler Herbst & Ron Herbst

The Great: It defines many cheese terms, and includes how-to-pronounce most of them. Cheeses covered are nicely outlined and cross references make finding a cheese easy. In addition to covering about 150 cheeses there is a tremendous amount of general cheese information. This includes good basic pairing advice. For cheese notetakers, a fantastic glossary of cheese descriptors (making this an essential must-own for me).

The Not So: This book is a small, convenient-sized paperback with 541 pages. Unfortunately it's all in black and white, with no photos or illustrations of any kind. The total number of cheeses doesn’t make our benchmark of essential cheese books. There are too many cheeses not listed that we eat. There is no listing for Graysen, Celtic Promise, St. Pat., etc. (More than 500 pages and only 150 cheeses covered is, well, quite disappointing! - Jack)

The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese

by Margaret Hathaway

American Farmstead Cheese: The Complete Guide To Making and selling Artisan Cheeses

by Paul Kindsedt

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.

If you are at all interested in serious cheese making this in an invaluable companion. If you are just trying cheese making for fun, I suggest you start with something a little less formidable.

The Wine and Food Society's

Guide to cheese and cheese cookery

by T. A Layton

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!

More Cheese Books of Note

The Cheese Board: Collective Works: Bread, Pastry, Cheese, Pizza (Paperback)

by Cheese Board Collective (Corporate Author), Alice Waters (Foreword)

Cheeses Of The World: A Season by Season Guide To Buying, Storing and Serving

by Roland Barthelemy (Foreword), Arnaud Sperat-Czar, Daniel Czap (Photographer), Jacques Guillard (Photographer)

Guide to Cheeses of the World: Choosing, Recognizing, Tasting 1200 Cheeses From Around the World

by Roland Barthelemy, Arnaud Sperat-Czar, Daniel Czap (Photographer), Jacques Guillard (Photographer)

The Cheese Lover's Cookbook and Guide: Over 100 Recipes with Instructions on How to Buy, Store, and Serve All Your Favorite Chesses

by Paula Lambert

The World Atlas of Cheese

by Nancy Eekhof-Stork

Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best (Hardcover)

by Max McCalman, David Gibbons

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.

Cheeses of the World: An Illustrated Guide for Gourmets

by Bernard Nantet

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.