Mmmm, what a pleasure to discover a bit of cheese porn. Culture, a magazine devoted to serving, making, and savoring cheese, debuted last autumn, but I only stumbled across an issue recently, and now I have a new love.
How I missed the first issue -- on blues, no less -- means that I must have my head in a curd vat. Clearly, I need a subscription. The latest issue includes recipes for making cheese-based ice creams (Roquefort-honey ice cream, anyone?) and a cheese tour of Austin, TX, along with profiles of cheesemakers, cheesemongers, and a really dazzling photo spread of cheeses wrapped in leaves. Yes, I have a wedge of Valdeon -- a Spanish cheese wrapped in Sycamore leaves -- now sitting in my fridge.
The reigning mavens of Culture have hooks in the cheese world. Founders Kate Arding and Thalassa Skinner are dairy-world veterans (Arding has worked at London’s Neal’s Yard Dairy and California’s Cowgirl Creamery; Skinner works at Napa’s Oxbow Cheese Merchant). As an added bonus, the web site features a Centerfold Club (no, no, it’s not what you’re thinking), through which you can sign up to receive seasonal shipments of hard-to-find cheeses selected by the editors. The cheeses appear to correspond with each issue, so – what, cleverness – you can sample a round of Dafne, from Goat’s Leap in Napa Valley, an artisanal cheese profiled in the current issue.
The photos are enticing, the writing is strong, the layout clean and appealing – all things I look for in a food magazine. Best of all, I appreciate learning about cheeses and the people who make them. I like cheeses in context. It’s one thing to pick up a random wedge here and a random wedge there and develop your own palate, but it’s nice to have guides, I’m discovering, people who can help steer your cheese board. Culture does just that. Now I’m off to search for a puck of Robiola di Incavolata, a soft cheese wrapped in fresh cabbage leaves -- wouldn’t Peter Rabbit love that?!