Camembert: The Big Cheese


Happy Holidays! This guide post is about my latest obsession with Camembert. It's a super soft, melty, creamy cheese made with cow's milk. You know when you're trying to be all sophisticated and want to order some cool cheese to impress all your lady friends? Well, sometimes it backfires and you accidentally order a weirdo cheese that's hard and moldy looking. That's not cool. This is why you have to know all, or at least some, of the best cheeses. And in my opinion, Camembert is one of the best!

At first bite, you can tell it's legit. It's creamy. It's melty. And, it's got enough flavor to be thought-provoking. You can eat it with bread and other stuff but I prefer to eat it by itself with a decent glass of wine. Make sure you always have this on your cheese platter.

Camembert. Not Edited. Source:  Roger Ferrer Ibanez

Camembert. Not Edited. Source: Roger Ferrer Ibanez

OK. Let's talk about history. This bad boy was first made by Marie Harel in the late 18th century in Camembert, Normandy (1791). Originally, she made the cheese using unpasteurized milk. Thus, to be able to sell and market Camembert cheese as "Camembert de Normandie", the AOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) requires that the cheese to be made with unpasteurized milk. These days, many modern cheesemakers use pasteurized milk for safety and convenience. However, the most legit camembert cheeses are still made with unpasteurized milk and are prized and adored in France. Often times, you'll see this cheese packaged in a round, wooden (poplar) box to preserve the cheese and its flavor. 

I'll talk about the process of making the cheese next time just because it's not the most appetizing methodology. The one thing I want to point out is that, after the milk is inoculated, the cheese will be hard and practically tasteless. However, the surface of the cheese is then coated with Penicillium Camemberti, which will produce a thick, white, edible rind that encases the rich, creamy interior. The rind is described to be "bloomy", which means that the cheese first becomes ripe from the outside and slowly ripens towards the center. The rind is firm, while the center is smooth and melty. Expect the flavor to be buttery, creamy, and milky. The scent is very earthy and a bit spiced. 

I recommend enjoying the cheese with a lighter red wine. However, camembert is strong enough to withstand a stronger red like a Bordeaux or a Cabernet Sauvignon. Now go introduce this cheese to all your friends and you will automatically become the coolest kid in your friend group. Trust me.

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Jonathan NgoCheese, GuideComment