- Cheese focus -
Camembert costs: £4.30 per
Camembert is relatively
young in cheese making terms - a mere 290 years. However
this style of soft cheese has been made in Normandy
since the 11th century and two other famous and much
older cheeses of the area are Pont l'Eveque and Livarot.
Neither of these however, have been able to gain such
It was during the time
of the French Revolution that a farmers wife, Marie
Harel, and her family gave shelter to a priest from
the Brie region. He passed on the cheese making knowledge
he had gained from his Brie-making parishioners as a
way of repaying the kindness shown to him. The soft
cheeses that Marie made improved dramatically becoming
softer and fuller-flavoured. She then in turn passed
her knowledge onto her daughter who, with her husband,
Victor Paynel, sold cheeses in the nearby market of
Vimoutiers (excellent farmhouse Camembert cheeses can
still be bought in the market of Vimoutiers today).
Victor Paynel took advantage of meeting Napoleon III
by presenting a Camembert to him. With the royal seal
of approval the future of this small cheese was secured.
Two later developments must be credited with giving
Camembert its ultimate world- wide success.
Firstly the invention
of the chop-wood box, allowing the cheeses to safely
travel long distances across bumpy roads. Cheeses could
now mature in transit when covering long distances in
Europe or crossing the channel to England. Previously
they had been wrapped in paper and straw and barely
survived the journey to Paris. The second development
was the introduction in 1910 of Penicillin candidium,
the snowy-white mould which is sprinkled or sprayed
on the surfaces of the cheeses. Camembert is now made
in enormous quantities, accounting for almost 20% of
all French cheese production. It is also copied all
over the world and it has become so widespread that
the name of Camembert, like Cheddar, cannot be protected.
de Normandie' gained its protective AOC status in 1983
and it is this unpasteurised cows' milk farmhouse cheese
that we sell at The Teddington Cheese. It is far superior
to the factory-made pasteurised versions generally found
today. The paste is plump and golden-yellow and the
rind is creamy-white. Camembert has a fragrant aroma
and a full-flavour. The French usually enjoy their Camembert
'moitié affiné' (semi-mature) when the centre of the
cheese is still firm and the outer part is creamy. The
British prefer their cheese fully mature with all of
the paste matured to a creamy texture. This difference
of taste may have been due to the long transit times
from France to Britain in the past leading to a much
riper cheese being enjoyed on the dinner tables of London.
We have preferred the
more mature Camembert to this day. Camembert is excellent
throughout the year but the very best cheeses are made
from spring to autumn when the cows' enjoy the rich
grass in the pastures. Camembert can be enjoyed on its
own with a glass of Normandy cider or a light red wine.
It is also excellent as part of a cheeseboard. Camembert
has formed the basis of many recipes and is popular
in Britain when coated in bread crumbs, fried and then
served with a fruit preserve.
Each cheese measures
10cm in diameter, is 3cm deep, weighs 250 grammes and
has a fat content of 45%.