By Patricia Michelson
Jacqui Small, £30
ISBN 978-1906417 33 8
Patricia Michelson supplies cheese to many of London's top chefs including Alain Ducasse, Theo Randall and Angela Hartnett. Her love for cheese began when she returned home from a trip to France with a wheel of Beaufort Chalet d'Alpage, which she sold from her garden shed, later graduating to a stall in Camden market.
Today as the owner of La Fromagerie, which comprises two award-winning outlets in London and a successful wholesale business, she is famous for sourcing small artisan cheeses and using affinage (cheese maturing in specially controlled rooms) to bring out their terroir; so when she writes a cheese book, the food world sits up and takes notice.
Cheese is her latest book. The bulk of it is made up of descriptions and photographs of her favourite cheeses, many of which she sells. They are laid out according to geographical areas, rather than cheese type, so you can dip into the Alpine regions, explore New Zealand or linger over Scandinavia.
Each entry is quite idiosyncratic, which is stimulating for anyone interested in using different cheeses on their menu. Thus you might learn how Louvie, a goat's milk cheese from an iron-ore mining area in the Pyrenees, has a unique mineral flavour and a limited summer season; or that Svecia, a Swedish, semi-hard cow's milk cheese, is particularly good at breakfast on dark rye bread.
The book also has a brief practical guide to the nature and style of cheese in general, as well as plenty of information on creating the ultimate cheese board and recipes from La Fromagerie's café. The making and flavouring of fresh cheeses is perhaps of most interest to chefs in this section.
There is also a section on cheese and drinks, including whisky and cider, but the most useful suggestions are found within individual entries. Anyone for some gamey-tasting truffled farmhouse Gouda with a glass of dry Champagne?
This is one of those books you will use for culinary inspiration as well as for fresh ideas to revitalise your cheese course. Flick through it and you'll find your mind bubbling with interesting new thoughts.