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.
Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings
by Tenaya Darlington
May 7, 2013
Published by Running Press
(All Photos ©2013 Running Press)