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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
When New Yorkers and out-of-town visitors make a pilgrimage to the restaurants Picholine and Artisanal, it's the cheese course that everyone saves room for, and no wonder: With more than 60 selections on any given day at Picholine and upwards of 200 at Artisanal, their cheese selections are the talk of the town. What they have in common (besides owner Terrance Brennan) is cheese expert Max McCalman, who presides over the caves where the artisanal cheeses are ripened and stored.
You'll want to read through McCalman's cheese primer with pen and paper in hand, because I guarantee you'll find at least ten new cheeses that you want to buy right now. (I can't wait to try a Wabash Cannonball, Vermont Shepherd, Epoisses, or Hoch Ybrig -- and that's just for starters.)
McCalman, who freely confesses that his cheese knowledge was full of holes ten years ago, tells you everything about cheese, from its history and creation to advice on selecting, storing, serving, and pairing with wine, beer, and food. You'll find out such useful things as the news that rich, runny cheeses are actually lower in calories than the hard cheeses (pass the Brie, please!), and that in a proper cheese plate, cheese No. 1 should be placed at the six-o'-clock position.
There are no recipes per se in this book, but there are wonderful, recipe-like plans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner cheese plates; beginner plates; and specialty plates like all-French, all-Italian, all-British, or all-American. There's a helpful chapter that starts off with wines, then identifies the cheeses that go best with them. For all-purpose pairings, McCalman finds that the two most versatile red wines for matching with cheeses are Zinfandels and wines made from the Syrah grape, followed by Pinot Noirs; the most versatile whites are Albariños and Alsatian Rieslings. (Ginger Curwen)