Like that of wine, the world of cheese can be very intimidating to the newcomer. So many varieties to choose from, representing a host of different regional specialties, milk types, pasteurization methods, etc. It helps to have a good book to guide you on your cheese explorations, and to that end there are two new books that ought to provide some clarity.
Janet Fletcher writes a weekly column on cheese for the San Francisco Chronicle. In her column, called The Cheese Course, she introduces a new cheese variety every week, complete with tasting notes, historical info, and beverage pairing tips. Her new book, Cheese & Wine: A Guide to Selecting, Pairing and Enjoying, is an encyclopedic guide to pairing cheese with wine, and includes a section that details general guidelines for doing so.
Laura Werlin's Cheese Essentials: An Insider's Guide to Buying and Serving Cheese also has a Cheese 101 section, but goes beyond Fletcher's book by including 50 recipes that feature cheese, including an enchanting Comté Pistachio Souffle. Laura Werlin is a noted expert on American cheese, and is author of the book The New American Cheese.
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