Milk: Raw cow’s milk
Texture: Soft with a delicate white rind
One of the most famous cheeses in the world is Brie the Roi de Fromages. Of the many types, Brie de Meaux is arguably the finest, and certainly the best known.
Brie de Meaux is the original cheese from the city of the same name. It is protected by an AOP (European Appellation d’Origin Protégée). Other notable French Bries come from Melun, Montereau and Coulommiers – the first may be either very fresh and dusted with charcoal or extra-mature. British Brie is made in Cornwall or Somerset.
For twelve centuries, Brie cheese has always been around Kings and mighty people. From Charlemagne to Henri IV and Charles of Orleans, all chanted the pleasure of tasting Brie.
In 1814, it got the supreme recognition of the Vienna Congress. While Talleyran and thirty ambassadors were dividing Europe, a contest was organized to elect the “king of cheeses”. And it is the Brie, already “cheese of kings”, which won the competition.
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.
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%.
Brie de Meaux has a soft velvety texture with a tender bloomy white rind sprinkled with red, or brownish, streaks or spots. It has a golden yellow paste, rich and creamy. A very fruity taste and flavour with a strong “terroir” smell.
Brie de Meaux will pair nicely with rich white wines or fruity red wines. Specifically we like Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Grenache, Pinot Noir and Beaujolais. Fruity red wines typically have lower levels of tannin, making them a good pairing with bloomy rind cheeses. Rich white wines are also nice companions to these cheeses because they are full bodied, “big in the mouth” and have a long finish.