Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cheese: Camembert

Camembert cheese originated in the village of Camembert in Normandy, France.
Mesophilic bacteria is introduced to warmed cow's milk, then rennet, and it coagulates. The curd is cut into small cubes, about 1/2 inch, salted and put into molds. The molds are turned regularly so that the whey drains evenly. In two days, the mold is a solid cheese mass with hard, crumbly and bland cheese. The surface of the cheese is sprayed with Penicillium candidum and Penicillium camemberti and are then left to ripen for at least three weeks. The ripening produces the rind 
and creamy flesh. 
When over-ripe, it can get bitter and smell like ammonia. When finished, Camembert is wrapped in paper and put into thin, round, wood boxes. Brie is made similarly. However, brie originated in the Isle de France (the region around Paris) and was produced in large wheels, compared to the much smaller wheels for camembert, and thus ripens differently. Because camembert is in much smaller wheels, there is a much larger ratio of rind to cheese in camembert and that changes the taste. 
Salvador Dali's melting watches were inspired by a melting wheel of over-ripe Camembert. The Grand Camembert we had from Delice de France has been one of my favorite cheeses. I found it to be stronger than Reblechon, Taleggio and Brie, with just a bit of a "blue" taste. Judy noted that the rind is stronger than the inside flesh, which emphasizes one of the differences with Brie. 
Others tasting the cheese with us noted that it was a little salty and sour.

While we were in Talinn, Estonia, a little later in June, we went to Fish & Wine, a nice restaurant near St. Nicholas Church. There I ordered oven-baked Camembert
with fig jam bread. The presentation was fantastic with a garlic clove inserted in the rind, sprigs of some sort of leaf on top, and a drizzle of some sort of green liquid, perhaps pesto. 
The Camembert was not "bluey" at all, but it was fun eating it warm and nice to try it with jam and bread. 

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