A review of Di Bruno Bros House of Cheese and a giveaway for a gift basket full of gourmet cheeses.
Cheese is to low carb as wine is to motherhood; that is to say, almost a necessity. I certainly consider cheese a necessity in my life. It picks me up in dull moments, it gives me a little boost of energy and it can satisfy that hunger, that need to munch, like almost nothing else. I typically keep 5 to 6 varieties of cheese in my fridge, all with a different flavour profile, and I love trying new cheeses when I am out and about. But the reality is that I am not particularly knowledgeable about cheese. I know what tastes good to me (almost all cheese tastes good to me) but I don’t know how to pair it or how to really bring out its best qualities. Mostly I am fumbling around, using whatever cheese I have on hand, not really knowing if it works or if it doesn’t. I am a bit of a cheese dunce, if you will.
Thankfully, there are other people who devote their life to cheese and then write about it, so that I can read up and at least pretend to know what I am doing. The Di Bruno Bros in Philadelphia is a well known and highly respected purveyor of fine cheeses and other gourmet foods. And thankfully for those of us in other locales, they have an online market as well. They opened their doors in 1939, which means this year marks their 75th anniversary. And to mark that fine occasion, they partnered with writer, journalist and cheese blogger Tenaya Darlington to put out a book about cheese that will blow your cheese-loving little mind.
House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes and Pairings is first and foremost a delight to read. Don’t think you can read an entire book about cheese from cover to cover? I guarantee you that Darlington’s witty, slightly flippant style will keep you engaged. The book is also beautiful enough to occupy space on your coffee table – maybe to impress your guests? It’s broken down by types of cheeses, from the unaged “Baby Faces” to the pungent “Stinkers” to the sweet-tasting “Sugar Mamas”, and everything in between. Darlington does warn you that the cheeses in the book are not something you will find at your local supermarket. These are exceptional cheeses, many of them hand-crafted in small batches and you are going to get to know them very well.
House of Cheese also contains wonderful ideas for pairings, parties and creating your own cheeseboard. Not sure what to ask for when you enter a fine cheese shop? Read the section on How to Talk to a Cheesemonger. All throughout the book, there are little asides and boxes filled with little nuggets of intriguing information. Many of the pairing suggestions are surprising and make you want to run out and purchase the items to test them out for yourself. And the recipes will surprise you as well. Chocolate and Gorgonzola together in Blue Velvet Pudding? Mind. Blown.
I was fortunate to receive a copy of the book, along with a lovely basket of cheeses and some gorgeous Calabrese and I am even more fortunate to be able to give one away. Di Bruno Bros was very accommodating when I said I couldn’t accept a basket that contained the usual crackers and fig jams and such, and that it would not be the sort of prize my readers would enjoy either. They kindly tailored my basked to my dietary needs and the cheeses they sent were simply amazing. I read up on my cheeses and dutifully tried some of the pairings suggested by Darlington. I tasted my Selles-Sur-Cher fresh goat’s milk cheese with raspberries (heavenly) and the Ewephoria (aptly named sheep’s milk cheese from Holland) with toasted nuts. And I happily got out my cocktail maker to pair a martini with the Pecorino Di Pienza (the Grand Old Man) with a martini. A thoroughly enjoyable journey through the land of cheese. Scroll down below for the “Pecorino Perfect Martini” recipe from House of Cheese.
Enter to win a copy of House of Cheese, and the same lovely basket of cheesy goodness I received: Chimay Vieux, Selles-Sur-Cher, Pecorino Di Pienza, Valdeon, Ewephoria and some Calabrese. Open to US Residents only.
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You can purchase House of Cheese directly from Di Bruno Bros (http://www.dibruno.com/di-bruno-bros-house-of-cheese-a-guide-to-wedges-recipes-and-pairings.html) or on Amazon.com.
- 8 oz gin cold (Plymouth brand, if possible)
- 1 oz vermouth cold (Noilly Pratt brand, if possible)
- 4 olives Sicilian, if possible
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add gin and vermouth. Shake well and divide between two chilled cocktail glasses.
Divide olives between two cocktail skewers or toothpicks. Add to martinis.