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 stumbled across an issue only 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, Texas, 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). I don't mind saying that the masthead is estrogen-heavy, and wouldn't you know that the printer is Wisconsin's own Schumann Printers, Inc.?
As a bonus, the website 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 you can -- what cleverness -- 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 there and develop your own palate, but it's nice to have a guide, I'm discovering. 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?!
Culture is sold in Madison at Fromagination.
Tenaya Darlington blogs about cheese at Madame Fromage.