Serious Cheese: Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest

Serious Cheese

Say cheese! We recommend, review, and eat a lot of cheese.

20090414_cheesepnw.jpgThe day before I flew home from Seattle, I received an email from Tami Parr, author of the always-informative Pacific Northwest Cheese Project blog. She proudly announced the release of her first book, Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest. Oh, man, did I wish I'd had this book before going to Seattle.

Largely a guidebook to the small-scale cheese producers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia, the book is similar to Jeffrey Roberts' Atlas of American Cheese. It would be perfect for the intrepid agrotourist with a strong interest in cheese.

For each producer profiled, Parr gives a brief one or two page summary, along with contact information, visitor information (if appropriate), and of course information about the cheeses they make. The book also includes several handy maps in the front so that you can plan your journey accordingly.

The introduction gives a little background on the cheese scene in the Pacific Northwest, but not nearly enough for this cheese lover. I found myself wanting some more details on the history of dairying in that part of the country, as well as the different geological and meteorological idiosyncrasies that make the microclimates there so good for growing pasture and making cheese.

That said, the book really shines in its profiles of obscure, small scale producers. Every write-up also has at least one photo, which, although they are black and white, help lend some context and personality to the book. If you're planning to visit the Pacific Northwest—or better yet if you live there full time—and are interested in the cheese scene, you'll definitely want to pick up this book.