Thursday, February 02, 2006

Foodings: All you need to know on Camembert!

How to choose a Camembert?
The only good Camembert...
  • proudly displays a round certificate AOC Camembert de Normandie,
  • is made with unpasteurised milk,
  • is between 10,5 and 11 cm in diameter,
  • weights 250g,
  • is manually crafted,
  • and is boxed in wood round casing
There are 10 makers: my favourite is Lepetit (which I used to find in Tesco but not anymore :-(, ou du Lanquetôt (both are owned by Lactalis/Besnier), Jort (my mum's favourite), Gillot, Isigny Sainte Mère (makes Sainsbury's Taste the difference and Tesco's Finest) , Laiteries de Bernières, Fromagerie du Val de Sienne, Réo, Moulin de Carel (Besnier).

But make sure you take the "Camembert de Normandie", Tesco's French Traditional Normandy Camembert, Coeur de Lion, Le Rustique and the entry-level supermarket own brand are all rubbish! A tip: go for the yellow warning UNPASTEURISED label.

Beware of imitations!
French say it better: pasteurised camembert is de la m****... !
If you live in the USofA, don't read any further: it may be a wonderful and free country, but only for dead-cheeses. Camembert is unpasteurised and helps you building a healthy stomach!

It is one of the best known and most widely appreciated cheeses around the world and this success has given ideas to many. They may make nice cheddar in Sommerset, but they should leave Camembert alone, for the same reason that Danes should leave Feta in Greece and French should not copy Italian Mozarella.

For not having been protected in time, the actual word camembert came into the public domain in 1926.

But then, who would have thought of bloody Sommerset Camembert? There are many copies, alll (to my knowledge) pasteurised and can thus be mass produced, stored and shipped anywhere.
Surely all the germs are killed, as the flavour.

So that diet-conscious ones can continue to buy, we have even seen some light versions, individual packagings and more!

Some are specifically designed to fool consumers, like the quite like the Tesco pseudo-traditional version or the Rustique (from Sodiaal) which is sold in a "traditional" packaging when it's pasteurised... (Thierry would say "thermisé").

But in 1983, justice has finally been fair with the 200-year old invention from Marie Harel (1791) with the creation of the aforementionned Protected Geographical Denomination
AOC Camembert de Normandie.

How to eat a Camembert?

Whatever you do, never stick your camembert in the fridge! If you reside in Murcia or Creta, I may forgive you but unless exceptional circumstances, the camembert will die in your fridge. it will prefer a fresh and dark room.
You may however try Auntie Martine's trick: wrap your precious Camembert de (remember?) Normandie AOC in a paper (ParisNormandie gives usually good results) and let ripe in the veggies drawer for about 2 weeks. Useful after coming back from your Calais booze trip....

Otherwise, you should let it ripe for a good week and a half (five days will do in summer) on top of the fridge to avoid temptation: do not tuck in before it's soft (all creamy inside, with no trace of "plaster" -that's for Parisians) and has slight orange-ish moulds on its rind.

Enjoy with a good sour dough bread (in Richmond, try Maison Blanc) or make it yourself and with a Bordeaux (

graves does it for me) or a côtes du Rhône.

Finally, the French call this white, fluffy, textured rind "croûte fleurie"...


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