Every day in America, people are discovering new and interesting cheese. Twenty-five years ago, except in a few rare instances, the only kinds of cheese Americans could buy were factory-produced cheeses made in huge quantities, and then cut and sealed in plastic before being shipped to the store. Up until recent years, the cheeses available to most Americans were American cheese, bright orange Cheddar, cold-pack cheese, Havarti, Monterey jack, mozzarella, processed cheese, provolone, and Velveeta. And unless you traveled to small pockets of America or abroad, you may not have had a chance to taste anything like Peluso's teleme, Vella Dry Jack, or fresh chèvre. But thanks to a few pioneering American cheese makers and chefs who wanted local sources of French cheeses, the seeds of an American cheese revolution were planted in the early '80s.
At first it was just a matter of making a few select handmade cheeses and fresh chèvre, or fresh goat cheese. But as those cheeses caught on, cheese makers started branching out, making cheeses like crottins, and people who loved cheese started looking for sources of new and unusual cheese. At the same time, innovative retailers started importing more specialty cheeses from Europe, and soon a handful of cheese counters with rotating stocks of a couple hundred handmade specialty cheeses popped up in Michigan, New York City, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Today there are dozens of wonderful cheese counters all over the country, stocked with a hundred or more different types of cheese, all sitting patiently in their spots, surrounded by a flurry of anxious and hurried customers and cheese mongers taking them through tastings and talking about fruity aromas; tangy sharpness; and long, nutty, buttery flavors. These stores have cheese covered in green furry mold; soft, downy sorts of cheese; cheese that looks like it's grown a wrinkled hide; cheese in large flat wheels and small squat cylinders; and some cheese that looks almost exactly like the cheeses you're used to seeing, only different. All of this is terrific news for cheese aficionados, but even better, it's fantastic news for people eager to explore the exciting range of flavors and aromas of artisanal, handmade cheese.
But how does someone used to eating three or four standard cheeses begin? The Everything
Along the way, this book will help you learn a little about how cheese is made, what difference it makes to use milk from different animals, and whether you should be concerned about eating cheese made from raw or pasteurized milk. Then you'll realize there are thousands of variations in cheese-making methods, and all lead to slight variations in aroma, texture, and flavor. You'll learn what it takes to run a good cheese counter and how to buy cheese, and then you'll spend some real time savoring certain aromas, textures, and flavors. You'll travel the world through cheese, be nourished through cheese, laugh about cheese in the media, and learn to care for your cheese at home. You will learn to pair different kinds of cheese with wine, champagne, beer, and spirits; you'll incorporate cheese into every meal; you'll pair different cheeses with sweet and savory food; you'll melt and grill your cheese; you'll use cheese as an ingredient; you'll design stunning platters and plates of cheese; you'll consider turning your cheese hobby into a way of life; and soon you'll be planning every trip around cheese. Really, what could be more fun? Enjoy!