A fabulous full-flavoured
Brie with a plump, smooth paste.
One of the most famous cheeses in
the world, Brie the "Roi de Fromages" has been a well established
cheese for at least 700 years. Of the many types, Brie de Meaux
is arguably the finest, and certainly the best known.
The Worldwide popularity of Brie
de Meaux is possibly down to one man. During the Vienna Congress
in 1814, arguments broke out as to which country produced the
finest cheese. The Frenchman Talleyrand was in no doubt, and so
suggested a competition between the national cheeses of several
countries, fully confident of the result. Brie de Meaux was universally
acclaimed as the winner, and so the unassuming disc became an
Brie itself originated, unsurprisingly,
in the region of Brie (some 50 Km east of Paris) and is thought
to have been made in the 8th century, when the emperor Charlemagne
is said to have tasted it. During the French Revolution, Louis
XVI is said to have requested a final taste of Brie de Meaux before
his arrest. It was once strictly a Parisian cheese, but has now,
due to the spread of the railways, become more far more widespread.
However, the AOC has restricted its manufacture to certain provinces
surrounding Paris, to ensure consistency of quality.
This is a raw, soft unpasteurised
cow's milk cheese. A massive 23 litres of milk are used to make
each cheese. The milk is heated to 37 °C only during the renneting
stage, but is never actually cooked. It is then manually cast
into its mould with a pelle à Brie, or Brie shovel. The
cheese is salted with a dry salt, which is balanced out by a slight
sweetness, obtained from the high-quality of milk used. During
maturation in a cool cellar, the cheese develops a white mould
and the pate, or paste, turns a light straw colour. This process
takes a minimum of 4 weeks, during which time the cheese is gently
turned several times.
Although true for all cheeses, it
is particularly important to allow Brie to reach room temperature
before consumption to enjoy the full range of flavours.
The whole cheese weighs about 3
kilograms, is 35 to 40 cm in diameter and about 3 cm thick. The
cheese has a fat content of around 45%.