In this highly anticipated release (University of California Press, September 2017, $30), Bronwen and Francis Percival walk us through the life cycle of cheese: from farm to dairy, aging cave, and market. Each step offers an opportunity to bolster cheese diversity, they argue—or expunge it, as an industrial food system is inclined to do. The Percivals remind us of the traditions, knowledge, and biodiversity we have already lost in a quest for efficiency and standardization, but they also look ahead, to innovative makers who are invested in saving “real” cheese and to growing scientific evidence that suggests that robust and balanced microbial communities are key to health. This eminently readable tome is a must for anyone who wants to understand cheese, its potential for variety, where it came from, and where it’s going.
Gianaclis Caldwell’s know-how has long inspired budding makers, and we should know—not only has she published a string of helpful books (including Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking and Mastering Basic Cheesemaking), but she’s also been culture’s resident cheese expert for years. In her latest book (Chelsea Green Publishing, June 2017, $40), Caldwell shares deep knowledge accumulated over 17 years of goat rearing. Taking a holistic perspective means ditching the one-dimensional views of livestock and instead, understanding the whole animal, from ideal environment and nutrition to physiology and production cycles. The result is a helpful reference manual that elevates the farmer’s ability to treat caprines with respect.
Author John Rossi loves cheese puns so much that he decided to tell the story of the American Revolution using a curd-related quip in every sentence of this playful short book (May 2017, John Rossi LLC, $6). Since each line reads as a poem—and is accompanied by one of Nathan Orensten’s full-page sketches—it’s an easy way to teach kids a history lesson while sneaking in some cheese pedagogy as well. But grown-ups are likely to giggle, too—we love the sketch of “Gorgonzola Washington” wearing a tricorn hat of cheese. (Since he “led the pats with bliss, the minutemen thought he was holy as Swiss.”) Who knew food puns and history paired so well?
It’s no surprise that author Erin James is editor-in-chief of Cidercraft, North America’s first print publication dedicated to cider; while densely packed with information, her 288-page tome (Storey Publishing, July 2017, $20) reads like a magazine. Narrative sections that break down cider history and production processes are interspersed with eye-catching, approachable graphics such as flavor wheels and glossaries, while cider styles are explored via compelling stories and portraits of producers. A handful of recipes rounds out a book that expresses a true love for craft cider in all of its complexity—reminiscent of our love for cheese.
At one point in this book (Dutton, June 2017, $26), Amy Ettinger uses the Star Trek universe as a metaphor for exploring ice cream in America. It was like being lost, she writes, “never knowing what you would find when you beamed down to a planet…an infuriatingly docile Organian or a hostile reptilian Gorn…a monster made of molten rock.” Traveling to ice cream boot camps and the frontlines of ice cream truck turf wars, tracing drug-laced frozen treats from 19th-century soda shops, meeting wacky gourmands, and sampling flavors ranging from oyster to vanilla topped with toffee-coated mealworms, Ettinger traveled to seriously strange corners of the ice cream universe, indeed. Follow her epic journey in this book devoted to our favorite frozen snack.
Flipping through London-based food writer Fern Green’s 50-plus grilled cheese recipes (Hardie Grant Books, April 2017, $20) sparks serious indulgence: white bread stuffed with leftover spaghetti carbonara; potato waffles filled with pastrami, sauerkraut, and Swiss; a brioche bun enveloping mascarpone and cinnamon-crusted peaches. Before diving in, be sure to read up on Green’s secret tricks for achieving “the golden effect” (hint: one involves a slathering of mashed potatoes). A handy “Cheesetastic Melting Guide” categorizes melting properties of different cheese styles, while the “Butters and Crusts Guide” offers inspiration for spreadable layers of fatty flavor. (Bloody Mary Butter, anyone?)
A decade ago, author Elena Santogade was making aged wheels in her Brooklyn kitchen. Today she’s a Certified Cheese Professional (CCP) and a sales manager for Vermont’s Grafton Village Cheese Company. This guide (Rockridge Press, March 2017, $16) captures the lessons she’s learned over the years. With detailed tutorials, Q&As with pro cheesemakers, troubleshooting advice, and more than a hint of evangelism, Santogade demystifies the cheesemaking process and inspires the curd-curious to hit the vat. You’ll be ordering rennet and citric acid in no time.