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on 19 December 2010
As the greediest cheese lover I know, the time came for me to buy a new cheese book. The ones already on my bookshelf were perfectly adequate, but what I was looking for was a curd compendium, a tour de force de fromage, written by many experts across the world and co-ordinated by the watchful eye of an enthusiastic editor-in-chief. And here it is. I am the proud owner of a veritable cheese encyclopedia, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my formaggio odyssey through time and travel.

The editor of the "World Cheese Book", Juliet Harbutt, came to Great Britain from New Zealand, and set up the Jeroboams Wine and Cheese shop in London, which won her many awards and accolades from industry peers. In 1994 she created The British Cheese Awards, which was followed in 2000 by The Great British Cheese Festival. She now lives in the Cotswolds where she runs a thriving cheese making business, and teaches people from all walks of life how to buy, serve and enjoy the finest cheeses in the world. She set up in partnership with Alex James, the ex-bass player of the pop band Blur and now columnist with The Independent newspaper, to produce the vine leaf wrapped, cider brandy washed, Little Wallop cheese.
In total twenty contributors have collaborated with Juliet to create this great work, and they are renowned industry specialists from all over the world. No stone has been left unturned. No rind has been left unsniffed. In 2010 the book won The Guild of Food Writers "Best Food Book Award", and it was also awarded "Le Cordon Bleu world Food Media" prize.

The introduction takes you through the story of cheese, a product whose roots hark back to 2800 years before the birth of Christ. How cheese is made, aged and enjoyed, with accompanying photographs, is followed by a geographical breakdown of the main cheese producing regions of the world. By now you are completely proficient in the artisanal skills required to produce fresh, aged fresh, soft white, semi-soft, hard, blue and flavour-added cheeses. You then begin, as one might expect, in France, and you work, alphabetically through its main cheeses, from Abbaye de Citeaux to Vieux-Lille. Each cheese description is accompanied by a photograph, tasting notes, how to enjoy, weights and measures as well as information about producers. And so you journey across Italy, with its Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Parmiggiano and Taleggio, through to Spain, Portugal, Great Britian and Ireland, the Low Countries, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, The Americas, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The editor's and the contributors' palates must be so finely tuned that even the slightest note, hint, tang and texture is registered. Look up "Berkswell" from the West Midlands, a consistent winner at the British Cheese Awards, and you find a hard ewe cheese made on a 16th century farm from the milk of East Friesland sheep, and you are told it is "a characterful cheese which provides a satisfying mouthful: firm texture; sweet, nutty and caramel hint; and a surprisingly tangy finale". I look up one of my favourite cheeses, Manchego, and it is given a double page spread of information. Its tasting notes are quite revelatory: "The depth and complexity of flavour depends on age,but all Manchego has an unmistakable richness reminiscent of Brazil nuts and caramel, with a distinct aroma of lanolin and roast lamb and a slightly salty finish." They have put the words right into my mouth. The Italian king of cheeses, Parmiggiano-Reggiano, with its numbered, stamped, quality controlled, dated exterior, is "fresh, fruity and sweet like fresh pineapple".

If you need to buy a cheese book for yourself, for family or friends that are cheese lovers, than I could not recommend this book more. Within its pages is the meticulous attention to detail, analysis, research and dedication that can only be found from the pens of truly obsessive connoisseurs. I can see myself dipping into its pages over many years to come, with endless fascination, curiosity and gluttony.
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on 27 December 2009
I won this book in a competition elsewhere and just ordered a copy here to give as a gift, I was that over the moon upon receiving! Even if you have a mild interest in cheese, this book is for you! Everyone who has looked at this book has been drooling, there is a picture of an oozy camembery style cheese thats not for the feint-hearted ;-)

The whole book is very well laid out, explaining the different types, processes, wine matching and where to source the different cheeses, from around the world. I just need to track down Mr Bavaria Blue and my life will be complete.

10/10 :)
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on 22 January 2010
A great book and one that hasn't been put on the bookshelf - i've been too busy reading it!

If you want to know anything about cheese, this is the book to buy. It's well presented and a great deal of time and effort has gone into producing the book.

A definite must have if you are a foodie fan - or just want to know anything about cheese.
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on 17 December 2011
Explore cheese in its many glorious varieties - the science, the smells, the succulence!

The grandest fromages, the finest Feta, the most delicious Manchego: celebrate the glorious variety, quality and pleasure of great cheeses from around the world.

You'll find detailed profiles of over 800 cheeses from France to Australia. Develop an in-depth understanding of different cheese - from its provenance, to the producers, science, smells, and how to savour each taste. Plus, discover what to buy, where and how to serve it.

A fantastic read "No cheese lover should be without it!"
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on 1 February 2011
A good friend of mine gave me this book for Christmas and I loved it so much, I have just bought one to give to my friend as a birthday present.

Brilliant, mouthwatering pictures of all the cheeses. Well written, good fun and interesting for anyone.
Definitely the must have book in your kitchen, you will learn so much from this.
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on 19 October 2010
Great book to browse through on the coffee table. Good information on the cheese's and which wines to match them with. Could do with more information on where you can get all the cheese's from in the UK, if you wanted to try some.
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on 29 January 2015
A good, but not comprehensive, encyclopaedia of the world's cheeses. Most cheeses are illustrated with 2 full colour photos, one close up to show colour and texture and the other to show the rind (if any) and shape of a complete cheese or identifiable segment of one.

The editor, Juliet Harbutt, said to be a formidable lady, has for years organised cheese events in both the UK and her native New Zealand. I regret her Great British Cheese Festival is no longer held as such.

This book begins with general sections about how different styles of cheese are made, but most of the book consists of entries on over 750 different cheeses, ranging from long established, well known ones like Cheddar and Gruyere to cheeses only invented or revived in recent years on a small scale, often at a single farm. Examples of the latter in this book that I especially recommend if you can find them include the mild, white, rugby-ball shaped Sharpham's Rustic and the mild (for blue cheeses) Barkham Blue, Oxford Blue (all English cheeses) and Cashel Blue (Irish).

The entries on individual cheeses are arranged by Continent, sub-divided by country. The longest European sections are of course on France, Italy and, given the boom in new `artisan' cheeses here in the past few decades, the British Isles. However, cheeses are featured from most countries in Europe, also North America, Australia and New Zealand, with some, mostly traditional, cheeses from the Middle East and a few, mostly developed from European models but now separate cheeses, invented in e.g. Brazil, Argentina, Japan and Israel.

This book does not cover every kind of cheese made in the World, or even in Britain. Some entries explain that they are only reviewing one out of the several cheeses available from the same maker. That is OK, as 750 cheeses are surely enough for one book. If they tried to cover everything the book would have been unreadably long, cumbersome and expensive.

However, it means that some interesting cheeses are overlooked e.g. Staffordshire Cheese and even the Italian Bel Paese. The very pleasant modern Welsh cheese Perl Wen (made by combining the recipes for Caerphilly and Brie) also sadly failed to make this book, although another cheese by the same maker, Perl Las, did.

On the other hand I am pleased to see the Italian Asiago Pressato here. Thanks to this book I now know about the two different kinds of Asiago, which explains why cheeses I have bought under that name were noticeably different in taste and texture. Even better is another mild Italian cheese Fontal which I discovered due to this book, a cross between Emmental & Fontina.

The majority of cheeses featured are made from cow's milk but there are also many goat's milk cheeses (I give those a miss personally because of the aftertaste), also Ewe's milk, Buffalo's milk (not only Mozzarella!) and a Finnish cheese sometimes made from Reindeer's milk.

The entries include various often interesting facts about the cheeses and attempts to describe their taste. I laughed at a few of the most over the top taste descriptions e.g. the editor Juliet Harbutt's own `Blue Moday' cheese:

"soft and creamy with hints of gold leaf and the sea breeze on Highland pastures. It has a kick of malt and chocolate, and a surprisingly mild spicy blue"

(But I thought gold leaf e.g. as sometimes used to decorate Indian sweets, was so thin it had no flavour, unlike silver leaf, which tastes metallic?)

While if it is true that Little Ryding cheese is really:

"hand made with a Camembert-like rind and creamy middle, this is like a traditional British Sunday lunch on a plate, with flavours of bunt onion and roast lamb, and yet a caramel sweetness too"

(Why not just serve `a traditional British Sunday lunch on a plate' rather than try to find one of the few shops in the country selling this rare organic ewes' milk cheese made by a single producer in Somerset?)

However, to be fair, it is hard to describe in words how one taste differs from another without sometimes sounding a little fanciful. Most descriptions in this book are more down to Earth.

Unless you visit a very particular part of North America you may never be able to find many of the surprising number of new North American single producer cheeses featured here. However, if `Old Grizzly' from Alberta or `Rosemary's Waltz' from the `Silvery Moon Creamery' in Maine ever make it across the Atlantic, some people would surely buy them for their names alone.

Likewise, sadly, most of us may never get to try `Barely Buzzed', matured in caves in Utah, described as a cheddar-like and flavoured by ground coffee and lavender rubbed into its surface; nor `Smokey Blue Cheese', said to absorb a hazelnut and caramel flavour from being smoked over piles of smouldering hazelnut shells in Oregon. However, it is interesting to know that such cheeses exist. A British cheese maker may gain an idea from reading about them here.

A book to keep to hand and dip into from time to time rather than try to read all the way through once and then put away.

You probably would not like not like every single cheese featured here, but overall, a good book containing literally hundreds of reasons not to be a Vegan!
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on 16 September 2014
I love this book, first saw it in a Portuguese Supermarket and having looked through it I went on amazon to find it, buy it and now love reading up on all the different cheeses. It is by no means an encyclopaedia but well worth the shelf space. IRS just a shame that supermarket ps only stocks the bog standard run of the mill just think of all the fun you could have trying a different cheese every week.
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on 29 April 2010
What a pleasure to see! this is trully a very good book on a subject that i love: cheese. It is very informative and the information is great. you really have to look very hard to find the inevitable mistake (try it, but it is not easy to spot). a very highly recommended book for anybody even remotely interested by cheese. Buy it when available.
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on 27 June 2012
This book is complete and utter HEAVEN for any cheese buff. Filled to bursting with pictures of cheese, it is almost too tempting not to start licking the pictures [highly socially unaccepted] that look as though they could just ooze into reality.
Buy it for yourself. But it for your friends. Buy it for your neighbour. Just BUY IT.
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