The Cheese Course

By Janet Fletcher
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The popularity of restaurant cheese platters, offered after the main course and before dessert, leads many of us to consider a similar home presentation. But how to go about it? Part guide, part recipe book, Janet Fletcher's The Cheese Course offers a deft introduction to choosing and presenting cheese for mealtime enjoyment. The book doesn't pretend to be comprehensive; you won't find cheese-by-cheese descriptions, for example. But it does offer a sensible survey of the issues involved in choosing the best cheeses--domestic and foreign--for home entertaining. Beginning with a discussion of the cheese course itself, the book then explores cheese purchasing, platter composition, cheese accompaniments, and complementary drinks. This latter discussion, which offers pairings based on cheese age and type, is particularly well handled and offers interesting suggestions such as serving rich triple crèmes with sparkling wine or pungent cheeses with fruit brandy. After the sections on cheese etiquette and storage (Fletcher is against plastic wrap for all but the hardest cheeses), the book offers 40 recipes for cheese accompaniments, organized by milk type. These include Fresh Ricotta with Chestnut Honey, Chestnuts, and Pears, Marinated Pecorino with Orange Peel and Herbs, and Grape Focaccia with Homemade Goat Fromage Blanc. A concluding recipe section on themed cheese platters offers such delights as American Artisan Cheeses with Figs and Field Greens Salad. Illustrated with color photos throughout, the book is a small treasure of information and good taste, and should appeal to all who love cheese and want to share it with friends and family. --Arthur Boehm