Today I wanted to talk about a rather well known cheese... Camembert.
The Camembert that we are able to receive in the United States are different than the Camembert that you would get in France. The information for the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) or the real Camembert that you can purchase in France is as follows...
Cheese: Camembert Normandie
Region: Normandy, France
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)
Other AOC/PDO requirements: Must be 250g, made in Normandy and made with milk only from the local herds of Normandie cows.
The only difference with the Camembert in the US is that it is made with pasteurized milk. Herve Mons, the producer of the Camembert pictured above, stayed as close to the original recipe as he could while using pasteurized milk and created a wonderful, authentic tasting Camembert. This particular Camembert was hand picked by our global cheese buyer, Cathy Strange, and is exclusive to Whole Foods Market. To learn more about this partnership, check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KSJS7hkx8k
One thing I like to point out, specifically in the case of Camembert, is to make sure you let it come to room temperature before you eat it. If you don't, the paste remains pretty firm and the flavors are incredibly muted. When it reaches room temperature, you will see that the paste is pretty gooey, not oozing like Bries or other soft ripened cheeses tend to, but squishy.
When you taste a bite of Camembert, you may surprised that it is not as buttery as its Brie counterpart. The flavors of the Camembert fall more into the umami category with creamy mushroom flavors. It is for this reason that I like to incorporate Camembert more in my cooking because it just has more flavor! The rind on this cheese is completely edible and has flavors of barnyard and earth. Sometimes I find the rind is a little too dry for my liking - there is no shame in not eating the rind! The consistency of the paste on the other hand reminds me of raw pizza dough. It's squishy yet it doesn't just dissolve away, you have to chew a bit. Also, don't be scared with a little color on the rind of Camembert, it is completely normal and just means there will be even more flavor. You can tell it has gone past its prime when you open up the container and get strong whiffs of ammonia that do not go away after letting it air out for about 20 minutes.
Herve Mons himself has recommended a nice Medoc with this cheese and his counterpart, Laure, recommends a nice, dry cider. I also like to have it with grapes or figs along with a light and refreshing Vouvray. Swing by your local Whole Foods Market to day and pick up some Herve Mons Camembert for yourself! It's a perfect treat for a warm day like today. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!