The Cheese Lover's Companion: The Ultimate A-Z Cheese Guide

The Cheese Lover's CompanionThere are a good many cheese books available these days, and more are coming out all the time. Generally it seems that said cheese books fall into two categories: the lavishly photographed coffee table cheese books and the more information oriented, text-heavy books. Neither type is necessarily better or worse than the other, but each serves a purpose. Cheese Lover's Companion falls into the latter category: bare bones on production (it's a small paperback book with no photographs) but long on comprehensive information about cheese. As others have pointed out, one of the nice aspects of this book is that it is organized alphabetically rather than - as many cheese books are - by cheese type or by nationality. If you want to look up Camembert, you look under C and you want to look up Gjetost, you look under G - very simple. That being said, the book also includes a glossary that cross references cheeses by milk type and by country, so you're covered if you can only remember  a cheese by the country it's from, or the fact that something you once liked was a sheep's milk cheese. Also included is a cheese descriptor glossary, which is helpful for those of us searching for words to describe a grassy/herby/nutty taste or pasty/crusty/velvety texture.

I'm a sucker for a good cheese book and I'm finding this one to be quite a useful reference guide. It's largely Europe-focused, although you can find entries covering some of the larger US makers like Rogue Creamery or Cypress Grove Chevre and their various cheeses. This guide works best if you are, say, trying a particular type of cheese like a Tallegio and want to learn where it's from and more about its production....or if you are curious what's meant by the word "lactic" when applied to cheese. It's not absolutely comprehensive, and cheese geeks will note that it doesn't list a number of their more coveted varieties. Still, it's a practical starter guide for someone who wants to learn more about cheese but doesn't know where to begin - or a great companion on a tasting trip to your local cheese shop.

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The Cheese Lover's Companion: The Ultimate A-Z Cheese Guide by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst William Morrow $16.95 paperback