Brie: Eat The Rind

I’m starting to get much more crazy about Brie than ever before…perhaps because it’s now easier to get good Brie than it was when I was growing up.  Before the great American Cheese Renaissance of the 1990’s, mass-market Brie seemed to be the only brie available and no one knew the correct way of eating it.

Many years ago I heard some church people gossip about a woman who came to coffee hour and ate most of the Brie.  SHE EVEN ATE THE RIND.

The other church-goers were scandalized!

I kept quiet because I myself usually eat the rind of Brie, but hadn’t known before that This. Was. Just. Simply. Wrong.

But it’s not wrong!

A cheesemonger recently told me that if one is eating a good Brie one should be able to eat the rind….and the rind shouldn’t be pure white, as the mass-market ones often are. It should instead look a little marked up. There’s a photo of what a good Brie looks like at the Paso Robles Insider blog: Chees’n it Up in Paso Roble,  along with notes about how the rind is “not only edible, but is crucial to the entire flavor profile of the cheese,” as

 Mold-ripened cheeses such as Brie are inoculated or sprayed with specific types of fungus or yeast that soften the paste of the cheese and encourage growth of the soft, white, fuzzy rind.  This style of cheese begins to ripen from the outside, and the center is the last to become creamy.  It might sound crazy, but we know how hard cheesemakers work to achieve the perfect bloomy rind, and it always breaks our heart a little to see that someone has dug the insides out of a beautiful round….

(Side note: people at Chowhound  call digging out the insides of cheese “strip-mining.”  It’s bad etiquette to strip-mine at a party. If you don’t want to eat the rind, put a slice on your plate and cut the rind off there instead of leaving it on the communal plate.)

Two more tips on Brie-eating: leave Brie out of the refrigerator for a couple of hours before consuming it.  It’s best to bring it to room temperature, as cold makes the fat molecules contract and become less tasty.  (See the Kitchn’s Cheese Tip: Don’t Eat Cold Cheese! ) Then slice the brie like a pie to get its full flavor instead of cutting pieces off from the point up. (Tastes can vary in intensity depending on where one is in the cheese.)

To me, at least, Brie is best paired with other foods rather than eaten straight.  I ate some last night, spooned onto apple slices.  Dang was that ever good….There was a sale on Belltoile Brie at the Elm City Market this week, (which is where I got mine,) but I’ve also gotten good Brie, plus good information on the cheese and how to eat it from the Fairfield Cheese Company –a place I’ll rave much more about in future posts.


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