Archive for camembert

cheese myths [and mites]

Posted in Kids, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2021 by xi'an

The Guardian published a somewhat hilarious article on cheese myths, with which I have no beef! Here are some.

  1. You can cook with cheap cheese. What’s the point, then?!
  2. Pre-grated cheese is fine. Sawdust is even cheaper…
  3. The older, the better. It depends. Which is why my regular cheesemonger is an affineur.
  4. Wrap in clingfilm or keep in an airtight container. I have given up using clingfilm altogether.
  5. You can store it in the fridge door. Not enough space and too dry. Until they retired, my parents never store cheese in a fridge as they enjoyed a perfect underground cellar with an unpaved floor.
  6. If it goes mouldy, it’s bad. Erm, there is no cheese without mould, mites, or bacteria. If worse comes to worse, scrap the offending part! (My affineur actually saves mites when brushing his olrder cheese to sprinkle them on younger ones and accelerate the aging process.)
  7. The temperature of your room is “room temperature”. At least, it is better than straight out of the fridge. (See 5. above.)
  8. You need specialist cheese knives. Never heard of cheese knives! Except for a cheese plane I use for extra-old and -hard Dutch cheese. The important point is in having sharp knives and cleaning them when switching cheese
  9. … and a cheese board. This is the most contentious point as cheese need be cut properly on a flat surface, especially hard cheese. Outside a large plate or a board, what is the alternative?! Unless the argument is in avoiding over-consumption.
  10. Rinds are inedible. Unless made of foreign materials like was, wood or straw, or too hard to chew, the rinds are part of the taste!
  11. Just slice any way you like. De-fi-ni-te-ly not!! Each slice, from the first to the last, should be the same. It otherwise modifies the taste and the aging, while potentially generating more waste.

the invasion of the American cheeses

Posted in Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2018 by xi'an

Part of the new Nafta agreement between the USA and its neighbours, Canada and Mexico, is lifting restrictions on the export of American cheeses to these countries. Having tasted high quality cheeses from Québec on my last visit to Montréal, and having yet to find similar performances in a US cheese, I looked at the list of cheese involved in the agreement, only to discover a collection of European cheese that should be protected by AOC rules under EU regulations (and only attributed to cheeses produced in the original regions):

Brie [de Meaux or de Melun?]
Burrata [di Andria?]
Camembert [missing the de Normandie to be AOC]
Coulommiers [actually not AOC!]
Emmenthal [which should be AOC Emmentaler Switzerland!]
Pecorino [all five Italian varieties being PDO]
Provolone [both Italian versions being PDO]

Plus another imposition that British Columbia wines be no longer segregated from US wines in British Columbia! Which sounds somewhat absurd if wine like those from (BC) Okanagan Valley or (Washington) Walla Walla is to be enjoyed with some more subtlety than diet cokeOwning a winery apparently does not necessarily require such subtlety!

Camembert day?!

Posted in Kids, pictures, Wines with tags , , , , on April 28, 2017 by xi'an

Google France is celebrating the 256th anniversary of the birth of Marie Harel, who, according to local legend, invented Camembert cheese. Enjoy (if you can!).

On raw milk

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , on July 27, 2010 by xi'an

While it is almost impossible to find raw milk (ie unpasteurised) cheese in North America, especially for those cheese aged last than 60 days, there are still a few producers making Camembert from raw milk in Normandy. (There is indeed a risk of contamination by listeria, E. Coli and salmonella in unpasteurised products, but the taste and structure of those cheese are clearly above those of pasteurised camemberts.) The risk of contamination is rather restricted by the limited production of those small manufacturers and the sales are mostly limited to Normandy and cheesemongers in the Paris area. I was thus quite surprised to find the other day a raw milk camembert sold in the local supermarket, meaning a higher production volume.

The explanation stands in the lack of A.O.C. label on the box, meaning that the Isigny-Sainte Mère company uses a processing that is not accepted as traditional by the A.O.C. for Camembert… The company is (legitimately) worried about being sued in case of food poisoning and is thus using a filtering device that avoids pasteurisation while removing bacterias. Now, the resulting cheese is very close to the “real” thing and, while I prefer the confidential brands of Carel and Jort, it still tastes very good!

Ps-Now, one may wonder about my sudden passion for Camembert! The reason is that, as a teenager looking for summer jobs, I used to make (raw milk) camemberts for a company (that no longer manufactures them)… Hence a certain lasting interest in the product.

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