American Cheeses: A Lecture by Clark Wolf

26th December 2008

Last weekend I braved the snowstorm and headed over to Blue Hill Stone Barns for Clark Wolf’s lecture about cheese. His new book, American Cheeses, was published this fall. 

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Eats.com wrote a wonderful review, which I think sums it up best: “The book is not only an introduction to American cheeses, but to the author himself, as the reader is constantly getting to know Wolf with each turn of the page. Wolf is undoubtedly a major player in the culinary industry, though his authorial approach served to reacquaint, or to introduce, himself to the audience as if he were meeting each for the first time in a coffee shop. There is no pretension to Wolf’s style, and he does not allow his credentials—relationships with major names like Alice Waters and James Beard, two-time official judge for the American Cheese Society, owner of the successful restaurant consulting firm Clark Wolf Company, among many, many other successes—detract from the book’s focus.  It’s all about cheese with Wolf, and his compilation of notable cheese makers, contact information included, makes for a fun tour of the American countryside. Wolf has great respect for the individual palate, and his discussion is meant to inspire, rather than to direct, the personal taste of his audience. His suggestion that semi-soft cheeses are capable of imbibing flavor from their surroundings will spur any kitchen scientist to action, and he does not scruple to suggest that some lower-priced “supermarket” cheeses can be acceptable to the budget shopper looking for inspiration, “if it’s of good and consistent quality.”  He adds, “Some things are just good.”  Wolf seeks the goodness in cheese, and, with a little bit of travel, appears to find it everywhere in America.”

Wolf’s book also includes a collection of recipes from each region of the country, including four different macaroni-and-cheese variations. I’m excited to make all four at my next dinner party! 

Wolf was delightfully engaging. If you have a chance, check his website for local visits. In the mean time, American Cheeses is available on Amazon for $16.50.

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