Sunday, 4 March 2012

An excellent resource

When I'm drinking a new beer I like to taste it, if possible, unprejudiced; I don't look at the book beforehand. But afterwards, I like to make comparisons with other people's tastes, so beer advocate or pint picker are wonderful sites to visit - sometimes answering that question one so often asks oneself, "I know this aroma (or flavour), I'm sure it's.... it's.... it's on the tip of my tongue, but what is it?"

The world of cheese, unfortunately, doesn't seem to have any such sites. What's up there is very fragmented - and also shows up some major national differences, every time an American or Brit says that Brie, for instance, is "too goaty", "too strong," and "stinky". Which to anyone who lives in France and eats cheese is nonsense. Okay, Brie is stinkier than Kraft processed cheese slices - but what isn't?

However there is one very useful resource out there. Wikipedia is sometimes useful, but only in French - and even in the .fr version, some cheeses only get stubs (or ebauches, rather). So I go to Androuet's 'Cheeses of the world' to get my information. It must be good, as I've been eating and writing my way through French cheeses for a good while now and it still has names I've not heard before. In French, English, and a good few other languages, which is helpful.

It has a good search function - you can search by name, country, region (of France, so that's useful when we travel), mild to stinky (which they call 'characterful'), season, type of milk, or even the wine you want some cheese to go with.

And it's remarkably comprehensive, though I'm not sure they've road-tested every description (and they don't have Norfolk Dapple, which personally I think is one of the best English cheeses I've ever eaten). There are 495 French cheeses, 134 from the UK, and over 100 each frmo Spain and Italy. Alas, coverage in the Netherlands and Germany is skimpier, though they have 9 different Norwegian cheeses and yes, that includes Gjetost.

They even have two cheeses from Afghanistan. I think it's unlikely I'm going to taste either of those very soon.

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