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Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager [Hardcover]

Max McCalman , David Gibbons
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Nov. 17 2009
Maître fromager Max McCalman, author of The Cheese Plate and Cheese, is steeped in the world of artisanal cheeses like no one else. In Mastering Cheese, he shares the wealth of his expertise to help cheese lovers on their path to connoisseurship.
 
After years of teaching courses for amateurs at the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center, where he is Dean of Curriculum, McCalman has developed a compelling set of classes for understanding and ex-periencing cheese. A full master's course in a book, Mastering Cheese covers the world of cheese in twenty-two distinct lessons, featuring tasting plates that deliciously demonstrate key topics. For example, a chapter titled "Stunning Stinkers" explains why some of the strongest-smelling cheeses can be among the best tasting and then recommends several stars of this category. Learn about the issues facing real raw-milk cheeses and then go out and taste the differences between these cheeses and those made with pasteurized milk.
 
For the first time in any of his books, McCalman includes extensive information on the modern artisanal cheese revolution in the United States and prominently features these artisans and their products alongside the famous cheeses of Italy, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
 
Complete with helpful charts and an invaluable index of more than 300 cheeses, Mastering Cheese is the definitive course that you can use in your own home to pursue your passion for cheese.

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About the Author

MAX MCCALMAN is America's first restaurant-based Maître Fromager and a Garde et Juré, as designated by France's Guilde des Fromagers. He established the critically acclaimed cheese programs at New York City's Picholine and Artisanal Brasserie & Fromagerie restaurants. He is Dean of Curriculum at Artisanal Premium Cheese Center in New York and is a highly visible advocate for artisanal cheese production around the world.
 
DAVID GIBBONS has collaborated on many books, including two with McCalman: The Cheese Plate, which was nominated for James Beard and IACP awards in 2003, and Cheese, which won a James Beard Award in 2006.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of My Favourite Books on Cheese - EVER! Jan. 1 2011
By bachef TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is so jam-packed with information! The book discusses artisan cheese, categories of cheese, terroir, how molds are formed, pairings, how to purchase it, and so on. It is skillfully written in a textbook format that is a compelling read. If you want to learn more about cheese itself, in addition to many of the world's best cheeses, you will not be disappointed in this one. I have learned more from this book than any other on the topic. The photographs practically make me salivate as well! Get it.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo! April 14 2010
By Chambolle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm here to tell you that this book -- "Mastering Cheese" -- is the real, full meal deal, and then some.

I've spent just a few hours with my newly acquired copy and am already certain I will be spending much, much more time with the book. There is plenty here to absorb. A brief history of cheesemaking. An outline of the basic steps in making various styles of cheese. The many elements of "terroir" and their effect on the texture, appearance and flavor of various cheeses. The basic "palette" of cheese flavors and aromas and the chemical compounds responsible for them, along with a glossary of common descriptive terms. Principles for mixing and matching cheeses for a cheese plate. Brief overviews of the cheeses of France, Italy, Switzerland, Britain, the U.S. and other dairy and cheesemaking regions. There is extensive discussion about the growing number of New World artisanal cheeses being made in Oregon, Washington, California, Vermont and elsewhere. A short review like this simply cannot begin to summarize the wealth of information included in this book. In the short time I've spent with it I'm sure I have come nowhere near to taking it all in.

This is the most comprehensive, attractive and readable guide to cheese I have ever seen in the English language. McCalman presents it all with the fervor of a lover and true believer. Above all, he is a powerful advocate for small scale, artisanal cheese production, for restoring the character and diversity of real cheese. As McCalman says in the early going, some people are fortunate enough to find their true calling in life, and he found it in the world of cheese. McCalman is a man with a mission to teach us all about the vast array of cheeses made around the world, how to enjoy them in their peak condition and to appreciate all their nuances. This is his magnum opus.

The book is as rich, creamy and full of life as a perfectly ripe and runny Vacherin Mont d'Or, as dense and mouthfilling as the very best Salers. If you really care about cheese and want to expand your knowledge and horizons, you want to own this book.

I've previously reviewed McCalman's "Cheese, A Connoisseur's Guide," something of a coffee table guide to a rather limited selection of cheeses, marred, in my view, by McCalman's resort to a Robert Parker-like 'point scoring' system that seemed to make no sense at all. This book has no such faults or flaws. It is the book to buy.

Just two teeny quibbles: First, I probably could do without the little "chapter reviews" at the end of each chapter. Yes, these are posited as "lessons," but let's not get too pedagogical! Second, and more of a bother, there does not seem to be a bibliography, although McCalman does refer to a number of other books and I assume he did go to other sources for a lot of the information contained here. I'd love to have a list of sources and the ability to seek them out, as this book successfully piqued my interest in learning more.

This is sweating the small stuff, however; perhaps both points can be addressed in a second edition someday. As it is, this is a really wonderful resource on the subject of cheese.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Educational and enjoyable Dec 22 2009
By Bob Galivan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a hard-core cheese devotee, I read more than my share of cheese books. I own both of MacCalmans other books (Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best and The Cheese Plate), both of which are getting rather well-thumbed.

Mastering Cheese combines those two volumes, along with MacCalman's deep expertise in the cheese world, into an excellent how-to guide for anyone that is interested in taking their cheese experience to another level. It is well written with plenty of opportunities for the aspiring caseophile to expand their knowledge of this delicious, delightful food!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for cheese geeks Jan. 26 2010
By David Phillips - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
McCalman breaks lots of new ground in his third book on great cheese--big focus on American artisans, finally a chapter on beer, a more conversational tone--but the knowledge, insights, and ridiculously beautiful images remain. Hats off to Max, too, for (perhaps?) coining the term "cheese farmer."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best book on cheese that I have read, hands down! Nov. 16 2013
By Bavaruspex - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderfully complete and rounded book, and everyone who takes his love of finest artisan cheeses seriously should not just read, but study it. Mr. McCalman, quite obviously, not only is a true connoisseur and lover of great cheese, but he approaches his subject from a deep and broad knowledge base. It starts with the bio-molecular details of how the original milk constituents get changed during the various steps of cheese making to determine, together with the methods and ingredients applied to the process, the characteristics of the resulting cheese. It is from that basis that subsequent descriptions of the influence of terroir, animal breed, pasteurizing or not pasteurizing, affinage, various stages of ripeness, and so on and so forth, make what kind of difference in what we subsequently taste.
Not only that, the authors apply a similar rigor when they describe what kind of wine, or even beer, goes best with which cheese selection. Hence, when we read about a certain cheese tasting best at such and such a stage, if to taste or not taste the rind, and even how to get the most out of the tasting experience itself, it is from that authoritative knowledge base that the recommendations are being made!
Ergo: this is no work by some amateur who likes cheese, and decides to write a book about it. Nor is it a cheese "phone book" which lists x-hundred cheeses from across the globe, then describing them in endless repetitions as "flowery", "mushroomy" and "creamy". No, in this book such judgments are applied very specifically, and with precision. They go back to personal conversations with key fromagers, a solid scientific understanding of dairy processing and the bio-molecular foundations of taste science, and an enormous personal experience with the described cheeses that also can afford to warn of mistakes, misconceptions and what not to do. And where you are lucky enough to taste a cheese described in this book, you will devotedly sample it yourself and decide, licking your chops: hmmm... McCalman is definitely correct!
In addition, the author(s) engage the culinary and presentational aspects just as authoritatively. With a true artist's touch, and again based on the above noted knowledge and experience, they advise on how to put together meaningful sampling plates, what else to put on it and for what purpose, and how to present it all in a way that delights even the most critical eyes. The pictures in the book will inspire the most discerning host in how to impress even terribly spoiled guests.
In my book shelves, this has quickly become the authority and repeatedly consulted reference on one of my personal passions: exquisitely sublime cheese. In this case, God did bless America, and just in time!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great Oct. 30 2013
By Costume Designer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An interesting, informative and attractive book for someone who just wants to know more about cheese. Really for the cheese lover/food lover. Not an instructional manual or a recipe book. Just an evocative book that explores cheese in more depth for the cheese lover.
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