This is my new favorite cheese cookbook and informational guide. It’s perfect to have for any time of the year, but with the holidays, it’s a must! If you find yourself scrambling for a last minute appetizer, you can never lose with some excellent cheeses. However, even that can be overwhelming if you go somewhere that offers upward of 300 cheeses, and you don’t know where to begin. This book will take all of the guesswork out of it. I bought this book recently in Point Reyes, California, home of the famous blue cheese. Many cheese books read like snobby encyclopedias, but this one is definitely reader friendly. There are easy-to-follow charts that are amusing to read. Cheeses are listed as “There’s Blue” and “Then there’s Really Blue;” “Bites the Tongue” and “What’s that I Smell?” By the time you finish the section on cheese selection, you will feel confident whether you are buying cheeses at Costco, a supermarket, or fancy cheese shop.
There are eight styles of cheese: fresh, semi-soft, soft-ripened, surface-ripened, semi-hard, hard, blue, and washed rind cheeses. There is a chapter for each of these cheeses with full explanations of each. For example, with blue cheese you will read that it is good with casseroles, cheese courses, fondue, grilled cheese, polenta, pasta, risotto, or vegetables. Blue cheese is from many areas of the world- Saga is from Denmark, Roquefort and St. Agur are from France, Point Reyes is from California, Maytag is from Iowa, and Great Hill Blue from Massachusetts. The recipes in each chapter are amazing, and with blue you can make pizzettas with gorgonzola, pear, and walnuts; crispy chicken with blue cheese and spinach; or peppercorn-crusted rib-eye steak with a blue cheese and chive butter.
The tips for entertaining and selecting cheeses is invaluable. The author says crackers are fine to serve with cheese, as long as they do not have seasonings. The cheese should be the star. Thin slices of a plain baguette are preferable, or toasted thin slices of walnut bread for blue, creamy, or strong cheeses. There is a chart for what cheeses to serve before and after dinner, what accompaniments to use like compotes, jams, nuts, or chutneys.
I have learned so much with this book, and there is more information to be studied. After you read it, you will be armed and ready for the first holiday party of the year. Just think how you can share your cheese knowledge as a conversation starter at a cocktail party. And now you can explain to people just exactly what Little Miss Muffet was eating as she sat on her Tuffet.