I saw a yummy looking round of French Brie de Meaux at Monsieur Marcel during our recent LA trip and decided to grab some of that. Of course it’s not “real” Brie de Meaux since it would have to be made with pasteurized milk to be sold here. So one wonders just how close it is to the French version. I’ve read many times that it’s not even close, but that seems hard to believe. Hopefully I’ll get over to France some day and taste the real thing. But for now that will have to wait. My question is, for those who have tasted both, how close is the “Americanized” imported brie to the real thing, and what are the actual taste differences? Bonus question – For those who have also tasted the award winning American Rouge et Noir Brie, how does that compare to the French stuff? As for the sample we got, it was pretty darn good. Slightly gamey, creamy, buttery, silky, rich. For some reason the cat wouldn’t go near it, which I found very odd. He’s usually a sucker for stinky cheeses, and the brie had a clear foot odor to it. Certainly not as pungent as the Pont l’Evêque which he gobbled up, but still………
The reason for getting this cheese was, of course, the Monty Python skit. And getting it wasn’t easy. We finally found a place that would ship it from Norway, which cost a pretty penny I can assure you. At any rate…… This cheese reminds me of Cambozola. It’s clearly inspired by brie, which it tastes very much like, and a blue cheese. Bloomy white rind, creamy and soft center, small pockets of mold. And it was pretty good. The brie character was sweet and creamy with hints of mushrooms. The blue character was mild and not too assertive. Great on crackers or a baguette. Not so great sliced off and gobbled on its own. I suspect most American palettes would find it rather “footy”. But this is a mass produced processed cheese, so it does make we really want to try Blue de Bresse, which is the real thing. So far i haven’t found a cheese shop in SoCal that has any in stock though. The cat wouldn’t eat it. The wife even less so.
I was initially put off by the black wax covering that bravo uses for it’s white cheddar. But that was immediately forgotten when I tried the cheese. This is a great American cheddar. Medium sharpness with an elusive handmade flavor. Not as nutty as the English bandage wrapped cheddars. But with a bit more farm “terrior” than handmade Vermont cheddars. Great for nibbling. I really need to buy more of this and try it in some mac & cheese. I think it would be ideal for that. I tried this along side some Quickes bandage wrapped cheddar from England and couldn’t decide which I liked better. This sample had a small mold vein running through the corner. While some might be put off, I was actually rather intrigued and compared it to the Montgomery’s Cheddar that’s sometimes cracked to promote mold veins. Pretty darn good if you ask me.
Frankly I find it interesting that Monty Python included this cheese. First of all it’s a brand rather than a cheese style. And secondly it had only existed for about 15 years when the skit came out. Maybe this was an early example of product placement marketing. And when it comes to just what exactly Boursin cheese is, even Boursin won’t tell you. They say it’s made from Gournay cheese, but that’s just made up. If you ask me it’s just flavored cream cheese. But, truth be told it’s pretty damn good flavored cream cheese. I tried the pepper version here and found it to be outstanding on crackers. Pepper is one of my favorite seasonings, and I wasn’t disappointed. Strangely, this is one of the cheeses that the cat wouldn’t eat.
We were doing some ide by side comparisons of fine cheddar nd I just happen to pick this one up as well. But frankly I haven’t been able to learn much about “Borough Market” Cheddar. Supposedly a line of cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy, but who knows what that means. All I know is that it was some of the best cheddar I’ve ever tried. It easily stood up to the Keen’s and Montgomery we tried next to it. Just the right sharpness with a wonderful, almost aromatic, finish, and a very nice firm yet silky texture. Perhaps a bit stronger and complex than the Montgomery and with a slightly different sharpness than the Keen’s. But certainly really good cheddar. One thing about the cheese was that the wrapping was extremely tough. It looked like a regular cloth covering, but when trying to cut through it it was more like some sort of hard laminate. I’d advice peeling it off rather than dulling your knife by hacking through it.
This Camembert is made in Vermont at Blythedale farms where they make several cheeses from the milk of the 16 Jersey cows. The sample we got was a bit on the chalky side. Initially I thought this was because I’d gotten it too young, but many online sites mention that the cheese gets more crumbly as it ages. So now I’m not sure which mistake I made. To young? To old? The cheese was pretty mild with a hint of mushroom and not much fragrance, so I’m pretty sure it was too young. But on the other hand the cheese seemed to be a bit shrunken, so it might have been drier due to age. I have no idea. Which of course means I’ll need to try it again. This sample was mild and buttery with a vague whisper of the flavors I usually associate with Camembert.
Legendairy Blue Chèvre is a rather distinctive goat’s milk blue cheese from Holland. The cheese was first and foremost a very good blue cheese. But the tanginess of the goat’s milk seemed to come through a bit, and it seemed much less deep and rustic compared to other blue’s like Stilton or Roquefort. I must say that in a world of blue cheeses struggling to stand out, this wasn’t one of the shining stars. Unique, but only slightly. Worth trying, but it will never replace my Roquefort. And as an import it’s a bit pricey to keep in the fridge as an “on hand” blue. Certainly worth trying though.
This cheese is generally thought of as a toned down blue cheese when compared to it’s other French cousin Roquefort. A bit less salty, a bit more creamy, a bit milder. But I suspect the version we got may have been aged a bit longer than most. It was robust and piquant in a very good way. Very full-bodied. Moist and creamy. Don’t let the many online articles describing this as a mild blue cheese fool you. There is plenty of flavor here, and I would put it in the top of the range in terms of spicy “blue” character. The wife wouldn’t touch it, but then she doesn’t like blues at all. The cat gobbled it up, but I think he may have eaten too much as he got a bit sick. Perhaps feeding the cat his fill of French cheese isn’t the best idea. Update – Another sample of this fine cheese turned out to be much more sweet and mild than the previous one. Still plenty of flavor, but basically just a less salty and full flavored blue. I would discribe this sample as much more “moldy” and much less “spicy”. And quite yummy.
You have lots of choices when it comes to cheddar. mild, medium, sharp, New York Style, Colby, Longhorn, white, orange, English, Irish, Vermont, Wisconsin. Well, I like good cheddar so I guess i now have a good excuse to try them all. Well, we went with Black Diamond White cheddar. And it was very good. Very assertive but not too sharp. We even tried it on some cheese burgers. That’s a damn good cheese burger. And don’t get on my case about how a cheese burger is no way to appreciate cheese. I’ve got about ten pounds of cheese to review and the stuff is piling up. I tried to convince Miss BatGrl to start eating on her breakfast cereal (hey, it’s milk right?), but she wouldn’t go for it. And for those playing the home game, the cat loves cheddar.
Bergenost is a handmade, all natural, triple cream cheese made by American cheese maker Yancey’s Fancy. Supposedly it’s made in a “Norwegian” style, which is sort of confusing since the cheese has nothing to do with Geitost or Jarlsberg. It was a bit like a very young gouda. Do they make gouda in Norway? I found it much less spreadable and buttery than the french triple creams. Mild with a hint of sourness. Certainly sweet and buttery, but less so than I’d expect with a triple cream.