and aroma of Camembert with the added kick of the Calvados marinade.
Camembert au Calvados is a wonderful
combination of two of Normandy's largest exports - Camembert and
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 world-wide recognition.
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 Penicillium 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.
However, 'Camembert 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%.