Welcome ladies and gentleman to the main event of the week! In the soft-ripened category of Culinary Boxing here at Chef’s Mandala, we have weighing in at 8 ounces from France, please welcome Camembert! Her opponent, weighing in at 6.6 pounds also from France, please welcome Brie!
LET’S GET READY TO RRRRR…….HAVE A SPIRITED DEBATE ON FOOD!!!
In the Red Corner – CAMEMBERT
The little queen of French soft-ripened cheese is today’s challenger. Don’t let her small stature fool you, Camembert can be one bad ass bitch when it comes to a scrap! While the Normandy version was once a prized fromage, today high quality soft-ripened cheese producers can be found scattered throughout France. Admittedly Camembert and today’s champ have a lot in common. They are both cow’s milk cheeses coated in a snow-white bloomy rind. Both are stabilized for export markets (the center of the cheese doesn’t turn into delicious runny goo). And both fromages use very similar recipes. But Camembert sales are a fraction of brie. Bookies in Las Vegas are giving 2 to 1 odds against the Queen for this match!
In the Blue Corner – BRIE
Our current soft-ripened champion (and national treasure of La France) is Brie! This fromage is a bit on the tubby side versus the champ (having had cream added to his milk before becoming cheese). But his fame is well deserved. While only pasteurized versions are available in the States, in his raw milk form (much like Parmesan Reggiano after 20 months) the beauty of this cheese becomes immediately evident. However popularity has led to industrialization which has led to an abundance of mediocre brie on the market. Sadly these are the cheeses that more often then not end up at your dinner party 🙁
- The Play-By-Play
Brie rolls out of his corner, a giant compared to our tiny challenger. But tiny doesn’t mean weak and even the referee takes pains to not piss off La Petite Reine – Camembert!
AND THE WINNER IS….
Camembert! Yes, this is a bit of an upset, but not for the reasons you’d think. Most food critics will comment that Brie tastes more buttery (Brie is traditionally 60% milk fat vs. Camembert’s 45%). And in turn Camembert is a bit more earthy or mushroomy or reminiscent of a barnyard. However the reality is that both of these soft-ripened cheeses ripen from the outside inward. And the smaller the wheel, the quicker they ripen. So what Camembert does is secretly introduce Americans to how the French eat cheese – when it is ripe and therefore close to perfection! Young, snow-white yellowish Brie that decorate supermarket cases add nothing to your meal with their bland taste. Think of an aged, almost sketchy looking soft-ripened cheese as you would Denzel Washington, Harrison Ford or Sophia Loren – a bit on in years but still sexy!