In preparing these weekly articles, I have a small arsenal of cheese books at my disposal. Though the internet helps, of course, my first stop is always the books. As much info as Wikipedia has, I trust Max McCalman a whole lot more. Here’s a list of my favorites:
Cheese: A Connoisseurs Guide to the World's Best by Max McCalman
Simply put, this is the best cheese book out there now. Not only is it easy to read and full of information, it’s simply gorgeous. Each glossy page is filled with brilliantly taken, lush photography. This is probably one of the few books that makes me hungry just to look at it. His earlier book, The Cheese Plate is also an excellent read and has more information about the basics of cheese and cheesemaking. Unfortunately, it’s mainly in black and white and the cheese reviews are repeated in the Connoisseurs Guide, with additional info.
Cheese Primer by Steve Jenkins
This book by Mr. Fairway, Steve Jenkins, was once my cheese bible. When I started working at Murray’s, knowing nothing about cheese, I bought this book hoping to catch up. I spent the next couple of weeks trudging through it, front to back. I learned an important thing: as a reference book, it’s excellent. If you try to read it straight through, it’ll make your head spin. The information is good, but the stories aren’t particularly engaging and, as a customer once said to me “it was a good book, when it was written.” Nowadays, some of it is a bit dated, in particular, it’s section on American cheesemakers.
Atlas of American Cheese by Jeffrey Roberts
Speaking of American cheesemakers, this is the best reference book on cheese I’ve come across in awhile. Containing the most comprehensive listing of American cheesemakers ever published aside from the American cheese society’s attendee list, the book does read more like an encyclopedia than a series of vignettes into the cheesemakers’ lives. That said, everyone around this country of ours who is interested in finding out about cheesemakers in their region would do well to pick up this book.
Other books of note: The New American Cheese (similar cheesemaker profile/recipe format to her follow-up book All American Cheese and Wine Book, but complely dedicated to cheese) & Italian Cheese (Obviously, limited in scope, but great dedication to the subject)