House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings
One of my watershed moments in becoming a fan of artisanal foods came during a trip to Paris with my wife (then girlfriend). One afternoon, we decided that rather than going to another restaurant, bistro or café for lunch, we’d get something from an open-air market and eat in a park—trés Parisian. We ended up with a simple baguette, some paté, and a hunk of fresh goat cheese which, until then, I hadn’t liked (or at least thought I hadn’t liked). But this stuff—fresh, creamy, delightfully earthy and slightly funky—was a revelation. I couldn’t get enough, and from that point on I was enamored with the cheeses in France.
It is with this feeling of discovery and excitement that one would read DiBruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings, a new book from cheese maven Tenaya Darlington, due out in May (Running Press, $24.99). As Tenaya has made a name for herself as the preeminent cheese blogger in Philadelphia—and I dare say beyond—with her website Madame Fromage, she takes the next logical step with this part DiBruno Bros. catalogue, part dairy love letter.
The book offers tasting notes on 170 cheeses, split up not by type of milk or style of cheese, but by personalities expertly assigned by Tenaya, ranging from Baby Faces and Quiet Types to Stinkers, Rock Stars, and Pierced Punks. Each cheese gets a description, some fun factoids, and food and drink pairings. Interspersed amongst the cheeses are 30 cheese-centric recipes for either dishes including cheese, featuring cheese, or just delicious cheese accoutrements. If all of this intimidates you, worry not: there are also plenty of how-to’s on tasting cheese, making your own cheese board, pairing, and hosting parties.
As I said before, Tenaya is the Nabokov of cheese writing: she loves the language and uses it with verve and an enjoyment that you don’t find many places. It was this joy that made me read about different cheeses, cheeses I’d already tasted multiple times and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I didn’t like, and think, “You know what? I might have been wrong.” Tenaya’s excitement is infectious. As I read the book, all I wanted to do was to take my paycheck to DiBruno Bros., tell the cheesemonger to give me whatever that would buy, and then proceed to host a dozen cheese parties for dairy lovers and haters alike. If there is anyone on this planet who can convert someone who is not an all-out lover of cheese, it is Tenaya.
There were only a few possible downsides to the book as I saw them, one being that if you didn’t live in Philadelphia and couldn’t run to a DiBruno Bros. after work to get your fix of whatever description you were drooling over, the book may be more of a tease than a treat in some cases. However, it’s an excellent learning tool for anyone, anywhere. The other drawback was the pictures—there weren’t nearly enough. And though it would have exponentially increased the cost and size of the book, I’m sure, I would have loved a picture of every cheese and recipe in all their delicious glory.
Minor drawbacks aside, the book is for everyone and deserves a place on every kitchen bookshelf. The book is available for pre-order at dibruno.com and Amazon for less than the cover price—order it now and all the money you save can go to your soon-to-be-found cheese habit.