What do you suppose is the most terrible thing that could befall someone who has vowed to taste a new cheese every day for 100 days in a row? Did you guess head cold? You are correct! This is a calamity! What will I do without my nose and discerning palate? I have discovered that a very hot drink of tea will afford me about 10 seconds of the ability to smell and taste, so that shall be my technique until this passes. Feel for me, gentle readers.
My 14 day foray into Mountain Cheeses is over, with Cave Aged Gruyère coming out as my personal favorite-I went back to buy a personal slice yesterday-so we know it’s a keeper. I did see Cave Aged Gruyère in another store yesterday (Gourmet Warehouse, Hastings street, Vancouver) so perhaps it’s not so difficult to track down, just in case you (wisely) wanted some.
I know turn my intrepid taste buds to soft rind, or bloomy rind cheese (I adore the phrase bloomy rind, it makes me think of bloomers) which are basically Brie and Camembert and cheeses like that. These are quite similar to the washed rind cheeses I first sampled in their general softness and relative fragility, but these little darlings are not washed with various unguents, they do their “blooming” on their own, (actually with a little help from their bacteria friends who…you guessed it….”bloom”) in relative dryness and with a lot less drama.
My first cheese is Camembert Rustique. It’s a pasteurized cow cheese from Normandy, France. The label says, “This Camembert is creamy with a full flavour.” It’s a soft cheese with a bloomy rind (yum, you eat this rind). I’ve never been clear on the difference between Camembert and Brie, and apparently there’s a good reason for that-Camembert was first made in 1791 by a farmer from Normandy who was following cheese advice from a priest who came from Brie-so it’s a Normandy variation of the Brie cheese, makes sense? Interestingly, Camembert also has a connection to the industrialization of the cheesemaking process-it’s generally a factory produced cheese these days.
Camembert is only aged three weeks after being sprayed with the mould Penicillium camemberti-this ripening produces both the creamy interior, and the distinctive rind. Wow-it has its own penicillium, that is seriously cool! Once the cheese has ripened it’s wrapped in paper and usually placed in a box. The wooden box which used to carry the cheese helped to send it for longer distances, explaining its popularity (that and the great taste, of course.)
There are many types of Camembert, so beware of impostors and poor cousins. You want to see “made in Normandy” on that package. This specific Camembert seems to have a lot of fans. The Rustique brand has been making this cheese since 1974, and several online sources claim that “this is the one” to eat, so lucky me!
My fat little slice of Camembert Rustique has been warming gently on my desk. It has a white bloomy rind and a creamy, buttery interior, it oozes ever so slightly, but is not overly gauche in its presentation. The smell is quite strong for a bloomy rind cheese, it smells like feet and happiness- happy feet that have just been quickly dipped in a little ammonia. Excellent. No insipid cheese here!
Oh, don’t you wish you were me? This is the most creamy cheese I have ever tasted. The texture is unbelievable, it just spreads all over your mouth with a gooey goodness. The taste is much more intense than I was expecting-this is not your crap supermarket “Camembert” it tastes like asparagus and ammonia, and love. It’s a little salty and a little raunchy. What head cold? I ask. Wow, if this is “real” Camembert, what in the Hell have I been eating all these years? Not this, that’s for sure. I almost feel tricked by this cheese-it’s a naughty little cheese after all, I was expecting some goody goody two shoes-but this cheese is deep.
Camembert Rustique, I give you a 5 out of 5, you get full marks for your unbelievable texture, I almost deduct a mark because of your intense flavour-not what I was expecting-but I realize that this is my fault, not yours, so the full marks remains.