The other day, a mate asked me, what the difference was between Brie and Camembert. They’re actually really similar. Both are made from cow’s milk and it’s the unpasteurized versions that are supposed to be better. In terms of texture, they’re really similar. I’d say of all the camemberts I’ve had, they tend to be more chalky and firm whereas bries can be seriously melty. Flavor wise, they’re also rather similar. Both display mushroomy flavor profiles as the biggest note. Where they differ is in the location, and hence, the terroir of the cheese. Brie is from the Ile de France, somewhere near-ish Paris, more specifically Seine et Marne, the province named after the two rivers. Camembert, is from Normandy, up on the north coast. Nowadays, for both cheeses, they’re protected by AOC distinctions that make Brie Brie and Camembert Camembert. They must come from a specific region within the province, the milk must be unpasteurized cow’s milk and specific procedures have to be followed in the production. Another interesting distinction is that camembert typically comes in wooden boxes, originally designed to handle transport and shipping back when the railroads started and people wanted camemberts but didn’t live anywhere near Normandy. This relates also to the size of the two cheeses. Camemberts are smaller whilst Brie comes in huge wheels. When I say this, I’m referring to the AOC variety. Nowadays, you find all kinds of cheeses labelled brie or camembert and they come in all sizes and from all over. However, only that many cheeses can be termed as Brie de Meaux/Melun or Camembert de Normandie.

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The Camembert I bought from Fourth Village Providore was a “real” camembert from Normandy, produced by the Isigny Ste Mere cooperative, a bigger, more mass market production. That’s because I’m one person, and also because you can’t find the unpastuerized, ultra authentic variety in Australia, so I got a Petit Camembert. Which stinks! Surprising cos, normally I get mushrooms when I unveil my camemberts/bries. Flavor wise, it definitely has a slight herbal, almost aniseedy, even antiseptic note. Then there’s the expected mushrooms and it’s swelling with creaminess. Mine’s pretty ripe, I think most would call it over because it has that certain ammonia stench to it. It’s not as bad as you might think though. For a soft mould cheese, this one is really flavorful and has a very pleasant, mildly sweet aftertaste and the tiniest bite at the back of the tongue/throat. Beautiful.

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When I put the nectarines in my mouth, the palate got cleansed but it felt like there was alcohol as well. Weird! Probably my nectarines just too sour. I can easily imagine some apple chips to go with this. In fact, they do a version with Calvados in it too. Most people prefer it “a coeur”, which is like, on the cusp of turning liquid I suppose. I like mine melted inside and so odorful that my housemates yearn for my blood. Mmm mmm.

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