Monday, November 30, 2009
Camembert - it isn't just a small Brie
I love Camembert. You should too. There is so much flavor wrapped up in this little bloomy rind. Not when you get it from the grocery store when it's just Brie with a different name, but when it comes in a little wooden box and arrives straight from France it is just amazing. (If you can't find it locally, you can always order online from Amazon.com or a cheese shop that ships like Murray's Cheese or the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. It'll be fine - it comes in it's own cute little box!) You must, must, must take it out of the fridge at least a half hour in advance to let it warm up and get gooey. If you take that step, you will be rewarded with cheese that almost needs a spoon for serving. Incredible on a bit of baguette. *If your cheese has gone from gooey to runny, your cheese may be a little too over ripe,
Real Camembert only comes in an 8 oz disk. If you're friends with your cheesemonger, you might be able to get a half round, but I'm telling you from experience that I got in trouble for only having a half at Thanksgiving! It goes great with Pinot Noir, and has a great sort of sweet mushroom flavor with a bit of nuttiness in the background. Apparently, if you eat Brie and Camembert in France blind folded, you might not be able to tell the difference. I can't wait for that "Pepsi Challenge." Keep in mind - while this isn't a "smelly" cheese, it does have a great cheesy smell, which you might not be prepared for if you are used to the stuff from the grocery store. You should definitely eat the rind - for two reasons. First, the rind in this case is really part of the flavor profile of the cheese. Do your own taste test if you don't believe me. Without the rind, the flavor is almost too mild. Additionally, if you do do this test, you'll find that there isn't a lot of cheese left (especially if you let the cheese warm up as directed). This little guy is really only a half inch thick, so if you cut the rind off, you'll be left with a sad little sliver of cheese.
Fun fact? According to Steve Jenkin's Cheese Primer, the "Vimoutier parish archives [in] 1680 Camembert was already highly regarded: 'A very good cheese, well-suited to aid digestion after a meal washed down with good wines.'" There you have it. You can eat it (as I just did) at the end of a huge eating day like Thanksgiving. Burp.