Now on the Cheese Notes bookshelf: Di Bruno Bros House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes and Pairings, from Tenaya Darlington — a longtime Di Bruno customer who fell into the role of resident cheese expert at Di Bruno’s while blogging as Madame Fromage; her goal of tasting every cheese in the shop eventually evolved into a longstanding relationship with the store and eventually, the idea for this book was borne.

The book explores the cheese counter and history of this legendary Philadelphia food shop, first started by Danny and Joe Di Bruno more than 70 years ago, and now run by William Mignucci Jr., grandson of the founders.  The first Di Bruno’s opened in 1939, in South Philadelphia’s iconic Italian Market, and has since grown to four locations around the city, selling not just a world-class cheese selection but gourmet prepared foods, fresh meats and seafoods and a wide array of artisan products from Italy and the world. 

The book is organized playfully by cheese type: theVixens chapter focuses on cheeses that are rich and decadent (think Anton’s Liebe Rot, Harbison); Mountain Men cheeses are the big, bold, nutty cheeses of and inspired by the Alps (Challerhocker, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Vacherin), the Rockstars are the best that Britain has to offer (or inspired by them, eg Keen’s Cheddar, Beecher’s Flagship, Lincolnshire Poacher) and Stinkers are, well, you know (Ardrahan, Epoisses, Hooligan). Other categories include Wise Guys, Sugar Mamas, Baby Faces, Quiet Types and more; you’ll have to check out the book to find out what those include! 

The book also has themed cheese board menus, like Fireside Party and All-Goat Blow-Out, and is sprinkled with helpful write-ups on everything from Cheese Tasting 101 to pairing Beer with Cheese, or Charcuterie Demystified. Every cheese includes “Good Matches”, wine and beer pairings and sidebars providing interesting facts and interviews pertaining to those cheeses.

In casual, friendly language, Tenaya guides you through the do’s, don’ts and secrets of navigating the cheese counter, all while sharing the history of Di Bruno’s and the cast of characters who have made it a treasured neighborhood fixture over the decades. She also provides a solid foundation of basic cheese knowledge; this book can serve as a good Cheese 101 guide, with  the fundamentals of cheese categorization, cheese science, cheesemaking concepts, profiles of American cheesemakers who are at the top of their game, and more.

There are also many tasty-sounding recipes: The Scharffe Maxx S’Mores, which pairs one of my favorite alpines with almond torrone and dark chocolate, sounds ridiculously awesome, and each chapter offers a few recipes, or unusual pairings to go with the chapter’s featured cheeses.

Another standout in this book is the beautiful photography from food photographer Jason Varney and food stylist Carrie Purcell

Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings 
by Tenaya Darlington 
May 7, 2013
ISBN: 9780762446049
ISBN-10: 0762446048
Published by Running Press

(All Photos ©2013 Running Press)

This week on Cutting the Curd, Diane interviews Tenaya Darlington, author of DiBruno’s House of Cheese. Tenaya talks about her writing and processes, as well as how she came up with 170 great cheeses to include in the book. This program has been sponsored byConsider Bardwell Farm. Today’s music provided by The California Honeydrops.


"We liked the idea of giving 1 line of personality to the cheeses, so that if you were standing around looking at this book, you could visualize the cheese in an instant." [26:15]

—Tenaya Darlington on Cutting the Curd

Madame Fromage, aka Tenaya Darlington — the resident cheese expert at DiBruno Bros in Philadelphia and author of House of Cheese — presents her holiday cheese board for 2013, including a selection of great cheeses from Pennsylvania and New Jersey: 

A Cheese Board for Grid Magazine

For the last several years, I’ve put together a holiday cheese sampler from the local area for Grid Magazine. This year’s board appears in the current issueand I’m just dazzled by the selection. Look at those rinds, kittens! Look at that leaf-wrapped tuffet! Back in 2005 when I moved to Philadelphia from Wisconsin, the cheese scene was a sad landscape.

Now, eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey are churning out some luxe cats. Here’s what we’ve got on this cheese rink, moving counter-clockwise from the top of the board:

Cheesemakers on the board include Roundtop FarmValley Shepherd CreameryCranberry Creek FarmKeswick Creamery and more, check out the post for the full list and reviews. 

(Photo @2013 Grid Magazine)

Brooklyn Beer and Cheese Class, August 20th

Friend of the blog Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage — and author of the excellent book “Di Bruno Bros House of Cheese" — will be teaching a Beer and Cheese pairing class on Tuesday, August 20th, at Mission Dolores in Gowanus: 

One of my favorite things to do with friends is to pair beer and cheese. I’ll grab a variety of cheeses, or I’ll pick a theme (like all blues), then I’ll recommend that people bring certain styles of craft beer. It’s become such a popular activity around my kitchen table that I’ve decided to offer a series of Beer and Cheese 101 classes around the area — starting with a class at Mission Dolores in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Mission Dolores happens to be a fave craft beer bar of mine — one of the owners, Scott Stubbs, is a friend of mine from grad school. Funny to think that we once met in cafes to write poetry; now we meet over beer to rock our jaws about ferment. Together, we’ve selected some glorious pairings to illustrate basic flavor combinations that will make your life better and your fridge more interesting.

This debut tasting at Mission Dolores is a mere $25 — how thirsty are you in August, Brooklyn? I’ll have books to sell and plenty of tips to peddle. Come join me for a little education and allure over suds’n curds.

Cheese & Beer 101 with Madame Fromage

Tuesday, August 20, 7 p.m.

Mission Delores, 249 4th St. (4th & Carroll), Brooklyn, NY 11215

Tel. (347)-457-5606

Tickets: $25, reserve by phone or email scott@missiondeloresbar.com

Seating is limited

(Photo ©2013 madamefromageblog.com)

Just recieved in the mail: My review copy of Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings, the new book from Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage, author of the Madame Fromage blog and resident cheese expert at Di Bruno Brothers. I’ll be reviewing it soon, but you can hop over to the post about the new book on her site to learn more. 

Over at TableMatters.com, Tenaya Darlington — aka Madame Fromage and author of the blog of the same name — discusses the glories and benefits of Alpine cheeses, and how they can compliment any cheese slate or snack plate:

When I was a kid living back in the Midwest, my Swiss mother used to set out a cheese board every Sunday for lunch, along with crusty bread, cured meats, fruit, cornichons, and nuts. It connected her to her childhood, she always told us, but it served another purpose, too: real Swiss cheese was her end-of-the-weak antidote to the many American products that made her scowl as the trolled the grocery, starting with Velveeta.

In our house, you had to eat Swiss cheese on Sundays. Or else. “The Frau,” as people often called our mother, taught us that strong flavors build strong character.

In the cheese world, the mountain cultures of Switzerland, Italy, and France are known for their robust wheels. Think of Gruyère (Switzerland), Fontina (Italy), and Beaufort (France). You’ll find gentle Bries and mellow soft cheeses like mozzarella as you move inland, but the bold stuff? It originates in the Alps.

Practically, there’s a good reason for strong mountain cheeses. They contain very little moisture, a trick that shepherds developed so that their horses had less weight to carry down rocky slopes into town. Genius. Pressing the moisture out of cheese, and letting it evaporate during long ageing periods, also concentrated flavor notes. The result: a smooth-textured, wildly interesting style of cheese.

In Switzerland, Alpine pastures are highly prized – the best grasses grow in spring-fed mountain valleys where minerals enrich the soil, and thus the milk. Swiss cheesemakers learned to play up these vibrant grassy tones by pressing local herbs into the rinds of cheeses as they developed, or washing the wheels with herb-infused liqueurs.

Check out the full post for some of her top varieties of Alpine and more.

(Photo ©2012 TableMatters.com)