Foodie Tuesday: Ask The Cheesemonger

We’ve talked cheese apps before – remember my review of Fromage? This week I’ve got another recommendation, Ask The Cheesemonger. While Fromage is still an excellent cheese encyclopedia to which you can add your own cheese discoveries, Ask The Cheesemonger gets the gold for superior design as well as being a useful beverage and cheese-pairing tool.

Created by McIntosh & Bowman, an Australian company specializing in cheese tasting events and cheese-making workshops, this app features a database of over 320 cheeses and plenty of educational material to help demystify the vast world of curds and whey. The talented team at Protein One has taken the knowledge of McIntosh & Bowman and packaged it in an attractive, modern design that’s fun for users to explore. Whether you’re a cheese novice or an aficionado, this app has plenty of useful information to guide you in learning more about purchasing, serving and pairing cheeses from around the world.

Keep reading to learn more about this must-have cheese app.

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Getting Started

The home screen of Ask The Cheesemonger is a cute menu of options scrawled on a chalkboard similar to the practice of labeling cheese-tasting portions on slate seen in cheese shops. Immediately you notice the eye-catching design, which lends an upbeat, fun tone to the app. Choose from five options: The Cheese, Wine Matcher, Cheese Challenge, Ask The Cheesemonger and Extra Cheesey Bits.

The home screen of Ask The Cheesemonger, left. View cheeses by your expertise, right.

The home screen of Ask The Cheesemonger, left. View cheeses by your expertise, right.

To browse through all the cheeses, select The Cheese. Here you will find several routes to take. Asking whether a user is A Cheese Novice or A Cheese Aficionado is a smart move — it keeps content manageable for beginners and allows those with more experience to view more advanced content. Supposedly, the Aficionado content is an in-app purchase of $1.99, but it seemed like I got all this content for free. It’s unclear if the sellers have not updated these terms in the App Store. Tap on the novice button and you’ll find a small selection of classic cheeses, such as cheddar, feta and ricotta. The aficionado button reveals a vast glossary of over 370 cheeses labeled by their brand name.

Cheese Aficionado includes a selection of more than 370 cheeses, left. Search by category, right.

Cheese Aficionado includes a selection of more than 370 cheeses, left. Search by category, right.

At the bottom of the screen is access to a handy glossary of cheese terms, including words like rennet, annatto and common rind descriptors. Search by category is handy if you’re building a cheese plate based on a theme, like milk type or country of origin. It’s also helpful if you’re entertaining guests who have dietary restrictions, like pasteurized cheeses for a pregnant friend or cheeses made with vegetable rennet for vegetarian diners.

The Cheeses

Each cheese in the database is accompanied by a large photo that accurately portrays both the inside and the outer rind. Below the photo is a detailed description of the flavor, aroma and texture. The Miscellaneous Fact is the story behind the cheese, including details on who produces it, where it originated and how the cheese got its name.

Each cheese includes a photo and full description, left. A fact sheet also accompanies every cheese, right.

Each cheese includes a photo and full description, left. A fact sheet also accompanies every cheese, right.

Ask The Cheesemonger does a great job of giving detailed descriptions of each cheese without being long-winded. Below the Miscellaneous Fact is a from with a list of fill-in-the-blank-style information, like Milk Type, Country of Origin, Cheese Style, Region Produced, Producer, type of rennet used and whether the cheese is raw or pasteurized.

Fun Features

The extra features make this app more than just a guide to cheese. Wine Matcher allows you to find complimentary beverage and cheese pairings for restaurant dining or entertaining at home. Select a Cheese from the database and swipe left and right to view several options. The app provides a category of drink, like sparkling wine or beer and listed below are specific examples, like “crisp, aromatic Pilsner” or wines from regions like Sancerre or Australia. You can also start your pairings search with the beverage, choosing from Red Wine, White Wine, Beer or Spirit.

Use the Wine Matcher tool to find complimentary pairings, starting with the cheese or the beverage, left. Swipe through multiple pairing options for each cheese, right.

Use the Wine Matcher tool to find complimentary pairings, starting with the cheese or the beverage, left. Swipe through multiple pairing options for each cheese, right.

Sadly, the Cheese Challenge feature looks like fun but under-delivers. Ask The Cheesemonger encourages users to “Take the cheese quiz and improve your knowledge,” but there are only 10 questions and they never seem to change. Same questions, same order, every time. After you get bored of the Cheese Challenge, check out Extra Cheesey Bits for a selection of Christmas Cheese Platters inspired by beverage pairings. They really shouldn’t label this section as Christmas Platters, because the beverage and cheese pairings would be delicious any time of the year.

A Cheesemonger in Your Pocket

The Ask The Cheesemonger section connects users with the cheese experts from McIntosh & Bowman. It’s a great feature that shows the creators care about engaging users and make an effort to provide answers to frequently asked questions. They really do show a passion for educating the public about cheese.

Browse frequently asked questions in Ask The Cheesemonger, or submit your own question via Email.

Browse frequently asked questions in Ask The Cheesemonger, or submit your own question via Email.

Here you can browse frequently asked questions and read detailed answers explaining the how and the why in regards to buying, storing, cooking and eating cheese. You can even ask a question, which will be sent in an email to the cheesemonger.

Conclusion

Ask The Cheesemonger is a fun, beautifully designed guide to cheeses from around the world. Protein One has taken the passion and knowledge of McIntosh & Bowman and created an app that’s useful, inspiring and educational. All the content is available offline, except for the cheese photos, which won’t load without an Internet connection. That’s ok, since you can still get access to all the cheese guides. The app functions without any problems and is easy to navigate while truly utilizing the mobile platform. Cheese experts and beginners alike will turn to Ask The Cheesemonger again and again for guidance in the store or restaurant, as well as inspiration for creating delicious cheese plates at home.


Summary

More than just a cheese database, Ask The Cheesemonger is a fun and attractively designed beverage and cheese pairing tool with a vast selection of cheeses and tons of useful tips.

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