Time Out's pick of the freshest vegetarian and vegan recipe books
Patricia Michelson Jacqui Small, £30
‘The World’s Best Artisan Cheeses’ is the subtitle of this beautifully photographed coffee table and reference book, and that sums it up. Choice cheeses are looked at by country and region in the manner of a big hardback on wine and wine regions, after a brief discussion of styles of cheese – such as what ‘bloomy’, ‘washed rind’ etc actually mean.
What you will not find is discussion of the high volume British cheeses that are processed on an industrial scale by creameries for the supermarkets; of the battles between bureaucrats and gourmets over the importation of European unpasteurised cheeses to the US or Australia; or a comprehensive catalogue of artisanal cheeses in the UK & Ireland (or, as the book erroneously calls it, ‘The British Isles and Ireland’ – sic, the British Isles includes Ireland).
This books deals strictly with the gastronomic joys of the world’s best cheeses, as selected by the owner of one of London’s best cheese shops, Patricia Michelson of La Fromagerie.
The strengths of the book include its global coverage – the new Aussie and US artisan cheeses are covered in sufficient depth to prime a food-loving traveller, for instance. It’s also as up-to-date as books get in this fast-changing area. And, of course, Michelson is one of the country’s leading cheese experts, particularly on French cheeses, so her notes are well-informed.
A section towards the end of the book includes some of Michelson’s preferred cheese recipes, from fondue to cauliflower cheese. Portraits of highlighted producers focus on the facts, rather than being evocative of the place or the producers concerned.
One weakness of the book, only apparent when you start using it a lot, is that it could have been better edited. But this is primarily a book you use for information, not for the prose; and the beautiful photography and clear design make this a book that any cheese-lover will treasure.
Guy Dimond, Time Out London Issue 2073: May 13-19 2010