Camembert - Gourmet Guide

June 12, 2019 | By Dave Mattingly

Camembert ranks as one of France's most popular cheeses, an impressive fact considering it has only been around since the late 18th century (compared to 11th century Roquefort or the ancient 1st century Cantal). Camembert is similar to Brie in shape and appearance, although most Camembert Cheese has a slightly stronger flavor and more noticeable aroma than Brie. This soft ripened, bloomy white rind cheese is sold in small wooden boxes which help to protect its soft, creamy texture during shipment.

Camembert Cheese is native to Normandy, a northwestern region of France on the coast of the English Channel. Normandy (or Normandie in France) is famous for producing some of the richest milk in all of France. Because of this, butter and cheese from Normandy has long been praised for their sublime flavor. Camembert's flavor is a product of terroir, where its taste is intrinsically connected to the land the cows graze on.

Camembert is traditionally a cow's milk cheese, but some small-scale producers do make their own goat or even sheep variations.

Camembert de Normandie
In 1983 Camembert was given AOC status by the French government to protect its name and production methods. The only Camembert Cheese that can be called AOC is Camembert de Normandie, the raw milk version produced in the Normandy region. Since it is made of raw milk, Camembert de Normandie is not available for export to the United States.

Serving Camembert
One principle of wine and cheese pairings is that cheeses taste best with wines that come from the same region. While Normandy is not well known for its wines, its apple products are world famous. Consider trying Camembert Cheese with a plate of sliced apples, a glass of hard cider, or Calvados, Normandy's apple brandy. Of course, crusty bread is perfect for serving with a ripe, runny Camembert Cheese. If you find a particular Camembert is a bit strong for your tastes, you can drizzle on a bit of honey to sweeten it.

The rind of Camembert Cheese is sprayed with an edible white mold called penicillium candidum, the same mold found on Brie, triple crèmes, and some varieties of Italian deli salamis. Eating the rind of Camembert Cheese is a matter of personal preference; some people love the additional flavor it gives to the cheese, others only want to taste the creamy interior.

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