Billed as a free app, Ask the Cheesemonger for iPhone and iPod Touch is anything but. You’ll get a paltry glimpse of the app’s content before being prompted to upgrade to the full version of the cheese-filled directory, but is it worth shelling out extra cash? For its regular price of $2.99, my vote is “no.”
The good news is that the app upgrade is currently on sale for a more palatable 99 cents. Although the app containing information on more than 300 cheeses, synthesizing the information will take some work by neophytes.
The Cheese Challenge 10-question quiz isn’t particularly engaging, and if you’ve taken it once, there’s little point in viewing it again. The “Ask the Cheesemonger” section is better, but currently offers fewer than 50 Q&As including the worthless “Is the moon made of cheese?” There is a function to ask your own question, but this simply launches your native mail program so you can send an email. It seems the cheesemongers know their stuff, but it’d be useful if the answers linked back to cheeses described in the app.
Ask the Cheesemonger also offers a pairing service — figure out what beverage to serve with a cheese you’ve bought, or select the beverages you’ve currently got on tap to see which cheese pairs the best. This feature is easy to use, however, because the applicable cheeses are displayed in list format, you’ll still have to do additional research into each to see if its even one you’d enjoy — names alone aren’t enough in this situation.
Really, the best feature of Ask the Cheesemonger is its Search Category function on the main cheese tab. This filter will help you narrow your focus as you can search by country, milk type or cheese style, among others. It’s definitely a better jumping-off point than going through the cheeses alphabetically.
Don’t pay full price for Ask the Cheesemonger, but if you’re willing to spend the time sorting through all of the varieties of cheese, you’ll probably come out with a solid understanding of fromage.