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Feb 15, 2013 03:42 PM

suggestions for beginner cheese tasting

There r not many cheese emporiums in my part of South Broward County.
I enjoy goat cheese. gouda, mozzarella

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  1. Have you been to the Cheese Course, which started out in Weston, but now has several other locations in Broward and Dade Counties? You can check their website for addresses. I'm sure their staff willl be able to help you with selecting cheeses you haven't yet tried, and you'll be able to ask for samples before you buy. That will be far better for you than relying on us to collectively generate a "laundry list" of cheese names.

    14 Replies
    1. re: cheesemaestro


      yes, I have been to knew chop in Adventura Mall.

      Should I start my tasting in any particular order?
      I am going to writedown the cheeses I try and my observations

      I also ordered 2 books on cheese.

      country-American,English, Italian, Greek, French
      skim , whole

      1. re: jpr54_1

        "Should I start my tasting in any particular order?"

        Not necessarily. It depends on your own preferences, as you develop them. Just the categories you listed encompass hundreds of cheeses. A good cheesemonger will help you to expand your knowledge by suggesting cheeses based on your past experience: what you liked and what you didn't like.

        I'm curious. What books did you order?

        1. re: cheesemaestro

          murray's cheese handbook
          the cheese primer

          1. re: jpr54_1

            Good books, with the proviso that the Cheese Primer was written at a time when the American artisan cheese movement was in its infancy, so it is an excellent resource for European cheeses, but not very useful as a guide to the myriad North American cheeses that have been created in the last 15+ years.

            1. re: cheesemaestro

              what books,blogs, sites etc. would u recommend?

              1. re: jpr54_1

                I had to think about this for a while. The problem with recommending materials on American artisan cheeses is that they (the cheeses) are a constantly moving target. The movement continues to expand, with new cheesemakers establishing themselves and new cheeses being created each year. There have also been some closures and failures every year. Thus something written even as recently as five years ago, isn't really current.

                The most ambitious attempt to date to catalog American cheeses comprehensively is Jeff Roberts' The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese. It was published six years ago, so is subject to the above caveat. In this book, Jeff explores cheeses state by state. He visited cheesemakers across the country and spoke with others to whom he was not able to pay a visit personally. The upside of the book is the large number of cheesemakers and cheeses it includes. The downside for someone like you just beginning the "cheese journey" is that the book doesn't make it easy to tell the stars from the also-rans, although Jeff does highlight some cheeses that he feels are especially good. I don't know if he will update the book at some point to reflect developments since it was published.

                Laura Werlin wrote a couple of books on American cheese, but these are older than the Roberts' book. The books contain recipes as well as descriptions of the cheeses/cheesemakers. The number of cheeses discussed is not extensive, but most of them are still available.

                There are several books that have a regional focus, including books devoted entirely to the cheeses of Vermont, Wisconsin, the Pacific Northwest and the West Coast. If you were located in one of these states/areas, I would recommend the appropriate book, but you're not.

                Almost all recent cheese books written by Americans cover cheeses made here. Once you've digested (as it were) the two books you purchased, I highly recommend you get Max McCalman's Mastering Cheese, which will take your knowledge to the next level.

                Another interesting book I can suggest to you is Liz Thorpe's The Cheese Chronicles. Liz was a cheesemonger and manager at Murray's in NYC. The book details her travels to various cheesemakers and restaurants that use good cheeses and her highly personal opinions of her experiences at each place.

                Online resources: There are plenty of blogs, but, since what they talk about is unpredictable from week to week, I wonder how useful they would be to you. Two online resources that I do recommend highly:

                Cheese by Hand: On this website, Sasha Davies and her husband, Michael Claypool, document their year-long project, a (2006-07), a labor of love designed to have them visit over 50 cheesemakers across the country. Sasha managed the cheese caves at both Murray's and Artisanal in NYC and, at the time of the project, was living there. (She now lives in Oregon.) Each cheesemaker on Cheese by Hand receives his/her own section on the website, and there are also audio interviews for many of them. A strong point for this website is that Sasha and Michael chose cheesemakers whom they deemed especially worthy of being singled out for distinction.

                My second recommendation is Anne Saxelby's website for her cheese shop in NYC, Saxelby Cheesemongers. Anne's is one of the very few shops that sell US cheeses exclusively. (Well, almost exclusively, as she makes an exception for Parmigiano Reggiano.) She focuses primarily on cheeses from the eastern third of the US. She includes descriptions of the cheeses she sells, which she updates a few times a year.

                Of course, the best way to learn about good American cheeses is to seek them out when you visit a local store.

                1. re: cheesemaestro

                  thanx for your reply-I will try and follow up

                  1. re: cheesemaestro

                    Have u read Cheese and Culture by Paul S. Kindstedt?

                    1. re: jpr54_1

                      Yes, I have the book. If you're interested in the history of cheesemaking from its nebulous origins about 10,000 years ago through ancient times, the Middle Ages, and right on up to the present, it's a valuable book and a good piece of scholarship. Kindstedt is a professor of dairy science at the University of Vermont. His writing style reflects that: a bit dry and academic. On the positive side, it's not written for Ph.D's, but rather for anyone wishing to know about how cheese got to where it is today.

                      Cheese and Culture grew out of a single chapter in Kindstedt's previous book, American Farmstead Cheese. In case you've come across this book in your searches, the title is somewhat misleading. The book was written as a guide to the science of cheesemaking (boiled down to a level that people not heavily trained in the sciences can understand). Its primary target audience is beginning professional cheesemakers, although it may also be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about the steps to making a cheese and the basic science underlying them.

                    2. re: cheesemaestro

                      Amazon has a nice, lengthy "Look Inside" preview of Max McCalman's Mastering Cheese book that's over 20+ pages. It really gives you a good peak inside the book. Looks very informative.

                        1. re: jpr54_1

                          Based on the kinds of questions I've seen you ask in this and other threads, I'm going to recommend a different book: Laura Werlin's Cheese Essentials. It will give you a lot of practical information designed to make your visit to a cheese shop/cheese counter less daunting. You can buy it on Amazon, where you'll also find a lot of new and used copies offered by third-party sellers for much less than the Amazon price. McCalman's Mastering Cheese is a wonderful book, but I think you'll be better off waiting a while to get it, until you've gained some additional experience with tasting new cheeses.

            2. re: jpr54_1

              "Should I start my tasting in any particular order?"

              While not disagreeing with cheesemaestro, I would equate cheese tasting with wine tasting. I assume you are suggesting that you have a selection of cheeses in front of you and you want to compare/contrast. I suggest you start with milder cheeses first...a strong bleu cheese can really mess up the taste of any cheese after it. And, as with wine tasting, the more you read from CREDIBLE sources, the smarter consumer you will be. ENJOY!
     CREDIBLE, I mean people in the field or knowledgeable CH'er...after all, one can't put anything on the net that's not true...right???

              1. re: njmarshall55

                Right, but I didn't think that this is what jpr54_1 was asking. I understood his question to be about whether, as a novice with cheeses, he should get to know certain cheeses before others. I didn't think he was asking about order of cheeses on a cheese plate or in a formal tasting.

          2. Do you have a whole foods? When my son first started getting into what he lovingly calls "stinko cheese" the associates at the WF cheese counter were wonderful. They took the time to educate us, offered samples, made recommendations based on his preferences/tastes.

            Some of his favorites:

            stinking bishop
            humboldt fog
            aged gouda

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodieX2

              tomorrow I will be going to the Cheese Course in Adventura and Whole Foods.

              My books finally arrived today