I love cheese, of all types, and think it pairs well with so many foods. Ooey, gooey, melted Monterey Jack on a sandwich, a mound of shredded Parmesan on a salad, chunks of Manchego with some agave nectar, a pungent Gorgonzola ravioli. The options are endless, and eminently delicious.
I love visiting a cheese shop, marveling at the incredible diversity of cheese, tasting the unfamiliar and unusual. Give me some bread, cheese and wine and I am very happy. Many times I am happy at a fine restaurant to have a cheese plate rather than a sweet dessert.
Cheese and wine share commonalities, and there is much you can learn about both topics. I have read a few books about cheese but know there is much more I still don't know about cheese. And I want to learn more. Thus I was quite pleased to find a new resource, an intriguing magazine devoted to cheese.
The premiere issue of Culture: The Word on Cheese has just been released and this is how they describe themeselves. "With every issue you will discover the flavors and textures of great cheeses. You will learn about new cheeses and cheesemakers. You will read about the stories behind the cheeses you love. You will finally have a place to turn to satisfy your passion for all things cheese."
I picked up the Winter 2008 ($6.99) at a local Barnes & Nobles book store. This is apparently a special introductory price as it is usually priced at $12.95 an issue. The magazine will be published quarterly and is slightly larger than a normal-sized magazine, yet smaller than a magazine like Wine Spectator. It is a glossy magazine, of 96 pages, with plenty of large pictures inside, many quite enticing images of cheese.
Yet this is not just a pretty, but shallow, magazine. I found plenty of interest within the magazine, a wide variety of informative articles. There are some brief news items and trivia. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson was the first US President to receive a massive block of cheese as a gift? I didn't. I was also amazed to learn that cheese consumption in the U.S. increased 106% between 1976 and 2006. In comparison, wine consumption during that same period only increased 38.2%. It certainly seems that the popularity of cheese is growing at an incredible rate.
Read about Bob Wills, a Master Cheesemmaker of Cedar Grove Cheese in Wisconsin. Find recommendations for cheese options in San Francisco. Learn about cheese making in Ireland. There is even a Centerfold, though there is no nudity, just a highlight of Winnimere cheese. I especially enjoyed the article on pairing grower Champagne and sparkling wine with cheese as well as the informative essay on the various types of blue cheese.
Though I am not a beer person, you can find a brief item on pairing beer and cheese. Some of the recipes in the magazine also intrigued me, including the Farmstead's Cheesemonger's Mac 'n Cheese and Pleasant Ridge Gougeres. You will even find dessert recipes that use cheese. I even ended the magazine with a laugh, amused by an essay in their Stirrings column, the tale of a cheese cart which had a terrible accident.
Though some warn of the demise of print magazines, there is also ample evidence that niche magazines stand the best chance of longevity. This is a niche magazine which I suspect will survive and thrive. It covers a fascinating topic, cheese, and has little serious competition, except for food magazines which may occasionally publish a cheese article.
I found their articles to be well written, interesting, and supported by some beautiful photography. It is not pretentious and caters to all types of cheese lovers, who will likely learn much within its pages. I heartily recommend this magazine and I will eagerly await its next issue.