The holidays are almost here. Stuck on what to get for the cheese lovers on your shopping list? Thankfully cheese people are relatively easy to shop for, and the internet has made it that much easier by providing an endless parade of cheese tools, toys, and treasures to choose from. Below you'll find some of my favorite finds for cheese fanatics, all vetted and enjoyed personally by your resident fromagère. That's me, in case you were unclear. *ahem*
A new wave of cheese classes are sweeping the nation, and institutions such as the Cheese School of San Francisco and Manhattan's Artisanal Cheese Center guide students through everything from cheese basics to making their own fresh dairy treats at home. Advanced curd nerds will enjoy an intensive three-day cheesemonger training, designed for those looking to professionalize their passion.
Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese
While cheese classes aren't always an option, cheese books generally are. Newly released Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings by Tenaya Darlington (of Madame Fromage fame) is a wonderful guide that teaches readers the finer points of pairing 170 artisan cheese with other gastronomic delights such as beer, cocktails, olives, and cured meats. A great selection for cheese beginners and more aged veterans.
Cheese(s) of the Month Club
A homegrown artisan cheese club started by learned cheese writer Kirstin Jackson, the "It's Not You, It's Brie Cheese Club" is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about cheese, with style. Every month, Kirstin picks three of her favorite artisan cheeses from around the world, and delivers them to club members with a perfectly selected condiment or side that highlights one of the selections. Along with the edibles, members also receive a spiffy little narrative with details about pairings. A lovely gift that both teaches and inspires.
What is cheese paper, you ask? Why, it's just the ideal wrapper for your fridge-bound cheese. Plastic wrap chokes your cheese worse than the Scranton Strangler; giving it a little breathing room makes for a much better dairy experience, especially if your cheese has hunkered down for a long nap in the chill. Breathable cheese paper allows air to circulate around your cheese while still preventing it from drying out. Win-win!
Slate Cheese Board
Slate cheese boards are always a good gift--they're a unique way to display your cheese selection, and they're incredibly simple to clean. Slabs of slate are generally rectangular, but you can sometimes find then in other interesting shapes. Added bonus: you can write each cheese's name in chalk, then wash it off afterwards.
Rotary Cheese Grater
For the grated cheese lover in all of us, Zyliss developed the ultimate tool: a rotary cheese shredder that makes quick work of Parmesan or other hard cheeses that like to be enjoyed sprinkled over hot dish. This handy little toy washes up quickly and saves your knuckles from the ultimate cheese bummer: being pulverized by conventional cheese graters.
Etsy has a plethora of cute, vintage knives available for sale, which would tickle any cheese lover with a penchant for old-timey silverware. I especially love the little butter knives imprinted with the names of different cheeses. A thoughtful and relatively inexpensive gift.
But perhaps the best gift you can give a cheese lover is, well, cheese. Many online cheese retailers offer gift certificates, but few will get you as good a selection as New York's Artisanal, which can ship cheese to almost anywhere in the continental US. So even your great Aunt Martha can enjoy her Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk, deep in the wilds of New Hampshire.
What cheesy gifts are on your Christmas list?
About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts.