I love cheese…

Anyone who knows me also knows I love cheese. Soft ones, hard ones, mouldy ones, stinky ones, blue veined ones… I love them all.
We don’t have any really great cheese shops where I live so it usually means a treck to Downtown Toronto where we have several excellent shops.
The one I frequent most, simply as a matter of convenience, not as an endorsement, is located in the St. Lawrence Market.
Extensive selection, reasonable prices and good service.
Now, I’m not a guru on cheese and will admit I often have to look up a cheese I’m not familiar with. This means I have to reach for the “World Encyclopedia of Cheese“, prominently featured on of my bookshelves.
This is a fantastic book and has a ton of information on pretty much any cheese ever made anywhere in the world. It’s beautifully illustrated and even has some decent recipes along with some essential chapters on general cheese making, cheese types and how they are made, wine and cheese pairing considerations and how to assemble the perfect cheeseboard.
This is definitely a “Zen Gourmand Approved” book any cheese lover should have on the bookshelf.

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Wine: An Introduction, by Joanna Simon

Wine: An Introduction, by Joanna Simon
Yesterday, I was having lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in a while and when the waiter came around to inquire if we were ready to order or if, perhaps, we wanted to start with something to drink, my friend looked at the waiter and with a broad smile declared “I’ll have a glass of white Chardonnay”. I looked over at my friend to see if she was trying to make a joke, but the expression on her face told me she meant exactly what she said. I then looked at the waiter to see if he was going to make any sort of snobbish comment, but while you could notice his eyes beginning to roll, but only ever so slightly before it stopped, and a well camouflaged “oh, man” expression being held back with some considerable effort, the waiter simply stated in a matter of fact voice “excellent choice, Ma’am; and what about the gentleman, a red Cabernet Sauvignon, perhaps?”, to which I responded “Yes, please. Never did like the white one.”
Once the waiter was out of earshot I turned to my friend and said “You know, when you order a Chardonnay, the assumption is that it will be white since Chardonnay is actually a white grape variety and ordering a ‘white’ Chardonnay could make you look a bit like, shall we say, a wine boob.
My friend answered “Oh, I know, I’m so bad with wines. I just don’t know anything about them except that I like white Chardonnay….oh, sorry, Chardonnay.”During lunch my friend asked my advice on how she could
learn more about wines. Specifically, she asked me what book I could recommend that would give her some basic and fundamental knowledge and advice about wines.

I didn’t hesitate for a second and immediately suggested she purchase the excellent book “Wine: An Introduction” by renowned wine writer and author Joanna Simon. This book covers wine fundamentals in a easy to read, easy to understand and approachable manner. It covers, among other things, wine styles, grape varieties, tasting wines, exploring wines, growing and making wines, buying them, storing them and pairing them with foods. The book is also nicely illustrated with high production values, great photography, graphics and charts. If this were not enough, this book is also on the required reading list of the International Sommelier Guild – Wine Fundamentals I course.


One note on “red Chardonnay’s”: There is at least one producer (Polk County’s Green Creek Winery) making a red Chardonnay by fermenting Chardonnay juice on Chambourcin skins, alas, I’ve not seen it anywhere yet.

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