Friday, June 24, 2011

Cheese: Brie

Brie cheese is named after the old French region of Brie which was divided into two sections: one being the modern department of Seine-et-Marne and the other the modern department of Marne. It is on the outskirts of Paris. It has very soft flesh, is creamy tan in color, 
and has a thick rind of edible white mold. 
Rennet is added to raw cow's milk, to help it coagulate, it is heated and forms curd. It is put into molds in several thin layers which are then drained for about 18 hours. It is then taken out of the molds, salted, inoculated with Penicillium candidum or Penicillium camemberti and Brevibacterium linens and aged in a cellar for at least four weeks. It can mature up to a year, and the longer it matures, the stronger it tastes. It is now made in many varieties and all over the world. The French government grants AOC (appellation d'origine controlee) status to two Bries: Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun. The Supreme La Creme de la Creme 
is a double cream Brie, made in France, with added Creme Fraiche to bring the fat content up to 62%. Among our taste testing group of eight people, a comment of "oh wow" went up when we tried this cheese. It was the softest of all the cheeses we tried, with perhaps one exception. It is very, very mild, rich and creamy. It had just a bit of an "off" or bitter taste in the background. Judy compared the texture to frosting or soft butter. 
It spread out over the knife, onto the plate, and was a mess to deal with. It has a pleasing texture and richness, but I really preferred the stronger taste of the Camembert which we sampled about the same time.

In June 2011, on our way to Moscow, we had a layover in the Munich Airport. While there we bought some cheese identified as St. Jacques M. Salbei Franz Weichkaese.
Weichkaese means soft white cheese used for spreading and salbei means sage. 
St. Jacques was an area or a type of Brie cheese made in France. It appears to me that this is some sort of Brie cheese covered in sage. 
It had a little bit of an earthy, barnyard smell, was very mild and had a slightly earthy taste. 
We ate it as part of our breakfast in the airport and quite enjoyed it.

I recently had some wonderful triple cream Brie with wild porcini and chanterelle mushrooms, made in Germany and marketed by Trader Joe's.
I wish I could have had some with Andrew, my mushroom lover, he would have adored it. I had some of it several times where I warmed it up for a few seconds in the microwave and the mushroom taste was teased out and transfused into the cheese. 

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