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How Can I Learn about Artisan Cheese?

Having moved to a big city from a small town, I’ve recently discovered a whole new world of specialty cheeses. How can I learn more about what’s what?
Coming from a small town myself, I’ve learned that the artisan cheese world is much like a small town. Everyone knows each other and what they are doing. It may feel overwhelming at first, but you’ll get your bearings pretty quickly if you pay attention. Find the local farmers’ market, and start talking to people. You are likely to run into a local chef who will be more than happy to tell you his or her favorites. And when you find a cheese shop, befriend the cheesemonger, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Most cheesemongers are eager to do a show-and-tell, complete with tastings!

It goes without saying that there’s lots of information online—sometimes too much. If you’re starting out, it’s best to look for credible cheese information at one of the reliable online cheese libraries (my friends here at culture maintain a fabulous library with over 600 entries). Cheese books are aplenty; you can find ones that are encyclopedic and cover the world of cheese (Patricia Michelson’s books are favorites), as well as books that are more regionally oriented.

Another great way to find artisan cheese and information is through social media. Throw out some questions on Twitter or Facebook and someone will respond. Everyone wants to talk about his or her favorite producer or store. I answer cheese-related questions on Twitter daily. Once you tap into that small town that is the artisan community, you can discover as many cheeses as you care to.

Feature Photo Credit: Drew Horne | Shutterstock.com

Tim Gaddis

Tim Gaddis is the cheese & specialty buyer for Star Provisions in Atlanta, Georgia.