SIMON JOHNSON Cheese of Choice
Surrender to the oozy, decadent pleasures of authentic French-style cheeses with the experts at SIMON JOHNSON.
Cheese. It seems eternal, something that’s always been part of our diet. Yet while cheese as a category predates recorded history – in the West, at least – one of its defining contemporary examples is, in fact, quite recent in origin.
We’re talking, of course, of camembert. A soft, creamy cheese traditionally produced from raw cow’s milk, it was believed to have first been made as late as the 18th century by Marie Harel, a dairy farmer near the village of Camembert in the Normandy region of France.
As the story goes, Harel had followed a recipe of a priest from France’s Brie region, who had sought refuge from persecution with them during the French Revolution. The result was a cheese that, while it looked very much like brie – a staple of French cheese since at least the 8th century – enjoyed a few key differences.
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For cheese lovers Selector Selects...
Divine in flavour and aroma, Le Conquérant delivers a rich, creamy texture with hints of straw, brassica and apples, making it a perfect match for a Pinot Gris.
In collaboration with artist John Broadley, the Fine Cheese Co presents this beautiful ceramic baker – oven-safe, and perfect for baking camembert in.
Hand-rolled breadsticks, baked with olive oil in the traditional manner of Piedmont, Italy – the ideal companion to a delicious baked camembert.
Brie or Camembert?
Read on below to learn the difference between Brie and Camembert cheese, and which one you should choose.
TO BRIE OR NOT TO BRIE...
The first immediately noticeable difference is in the size of the resulting cheese. Camembert is always sold as a small (250g) round cheese rather than cut into wedges from a larger wheel, as is the case with brie – which, in its originating town of Brie in the Île-de-France region, is traditionally made in larger, slightly flatter wheels weighing 3kg. Both cheeses are packed in wax paper and transported in thin, round wooden containers made of poplar – a perfect micro-environment for the maturation of these cheeses. As camembert is sold whole in its box, it will continue to mature in your fridge, meaning you can buy a younger cheese and finish its ripening at home; unlike brie, where the ripening process stops as soon as the rind is cut – once judged ready to eat, brie is cut from the wheel.
Generally, camembert displays a more pungent aroma than brie, with an earthy flavour often likened to the brassica family of vegetables (e.g. cauliflower), and a chalk-like texture when young. Brie on the other hand tends to be more mild, buttery and mushroomy with hints of straw and grass, thanks to differences in the milk, chiefly arising from the breeds of cows used in traditional regional production, the seasons, different cultures, and – of course – terroir. Both cheeses are at peak ripeness when, once cut into, they are oozy and soft.
While brie and camembert-style cheeses are made widely around the world, a small number of true French brie and camembert are AOC-protected: in brie’s case, protected cheeses are Brie de Meaux, and the rich, complex Brie de Melun (thought to be the ancestor of all brie cheeses); and in camembert’s case, Camembert de Normandie, which can only be made from the raw, unpasteurised milk of Normandes cows.
A CULTURE OF PASSION
Genuine hand-ladled cheeses made from raw milk under strict AOC guidelines are not allowed to be imported into countries like Australia due to regulations, but some French producers are following authentic production techniques using pasteurised milk for the export market.
SIMON JOHNSON works closely with these producers to ship the best pasteurised versions of these exquisite cheeses to our shores. An excellent example is Le Conquérant Camembert, by Will Studd. Made with traditional cultures and moulds, Le Conquérant is the closest thing to a raw milk camembert that can be found in Australia – and is an absolute delight when used for a classic baked camembert.
Meanwhile, the best Brie de Meaux available here is Dongé Brie, a pasteurised brie produced by Fromagerie Dongé in Meaux. Crafted from a secret mix of cultures, this special, authentically made brie is only available at SIMON JOHNSON stores, where they’ll cut and wrap your cheese to order, just how you like it.
Indulge in authentic fromagerie flavours with SIMON JOHNSON and savour the difference.