When I review a book, most of the time I sit down with it for a finite amount of time, read a few chapters, skim the rest, and if it's a cookbook, make one or two of the recipes. This is a confession of sorts, but not one I'm ashamed of; many book reviewers do less and still manage to get a good sense of the work.
When I got the The Murray's Cheese Handbook ($10.36) in the mail, I put it on my kitchen counter and actually starting using it.
Since having our baby, our dinners often consist of something I throw together with ingredients procured at Murray's, starting off with two cheeses. It has become our evening tradition to read from the guide about the night's fromage.
The book is easy to navigate with short, pithy descriptions of over 300 cheeses you'll find at cheese counters all over the world, as well as a great FAQ section that answers questions like "How do you make cheese" and "Do I eat the rind?" The back of the book features a really useful section called "Top Cheese For..." and includes suggestions for cheese before a meal, cheeses with a salad, most intimidating cheeses, sexiest cheeses, and fail-safe wine and cheese pairings.
My copy is slowly filling up with little penciled check marks, reminding me of when I was young and checked off words in the dictionary, my vocabulary widening. Thanks to this volume, our cheese knowledge is widening as well.
• Murray's Cheese ($12.95)
• Powell's Books ($12.95)
• Amazon.com ($10.36)