Cheese or fromage is, probably, one of the brightest gastronomic associations with France. The country produces about 400 different types of cheese made by keeping centuries-old manufacturing technologies which have stood the test of time. However, there must be something at the head of such large variety of the product, and undoubtedly that is Brie, nicknamed as “the Queen of Cheeses”.
What is Brie Cheese?
The name comes from the French region of Brie, where it was first created. Nowadays this is a generic word for any Brie-style soft-ripened cheese, as it is produced not only in France, but around the world, and has many varieties. Nevertheless, there are only several AOC certified types: Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun, including Brie de Nangis from the same region of origin.
Traditional Brie cheese is made from cow’s milk. It has a smooth, slightly runny and chalky or grayish interior. Its bloomy white rind is edible, despite being injected with a special mold, which actually provides a unique flavor of the product and keeps it from other harmful bacteria. When it is good, the scent is fresh and woodsy, while its taste is buttery yet tangy and a little acid, with some piquant mushroomy hint.
The legend says, in the 8th century the Emperor Charlemagne tried some Brie while staying at the bishop’s residency. The king liked the cheese so much, that he ordered it to be annually delivered to his castle as a tribute. Since that time Brie became greatly appreciated among the French Royals. After the revolution, it became affordable for all people of France. Its popularity soared in the early 19th century, after the French diplomat Duke de Talleyrand presented it at the contest held at the Congress of Vienna, which followed the end of Napoleonic wars and was aimed to reshape Europe. That is when the French “King of Cheeses” was finally crowned.
Food and Beverage Pairings
This is a classic versatile cheese. It can serve successfully both as a part of an appetizer and an ingredient or a condiment to your cookery. Yet some Brie cheese nutrition features should be taken into account: while it is a great source of minerals and vitamins B-12 and B2, the product also contains some saturated fats and sodium, so you should control the amount of the cheese you consume.
Brie enhances the original flavors of various hot dishes adding some pungent zest to them. It also shines well with some savory fruit like apples and pears, candied nuts, French baguette or white crackers. Served at room temperature, the cheese unfolds the mildness of its full texture and the richness of its taste. When baked and topped with chopped herbs or garlic, it turns to a fabulous hot appetizer. Coated with caramel, orange marmalade or fig jam, baked Brie appears to be a dainty dessert. A glass of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or apple cider can perfectly accompany any meal this cheese takes part in.
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