Asides

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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Mice don’t actually like cheese

     I’m in the process of enlisting the help of family, friends, and especially coworkers (“especially” as I work full-time and see coworkers more than family or friends) for help with tasting, as I know that not everyone’s taste buds are the same and I need accurate assessments esp. of types of cheese I myself don’t like. (I don’t like smoked cheese, for example, but I know there are other people who do.) I’m in a new job where my coworkers don’t know me well yet, so I’m finding talking about this to them kind of tricky.  For example, one coworker looked downright terrified today when I leaped in front of her desk and said “I NEED YOUR HELP!!!!!!! I KNOW YOU LIKE CHEESE!!!!!! IF I GIVE YOU A PIECE OF CHEESE SOMEDAY AND ASK FOR YOUR OPINION WILL YOU GIVE IT TO ME???????? WILL YOU???????? WILL YOU???????  Cheese is good.” My coworker said yes, but that might have been just because she wanted me to go away.
     I was thinking of joking to my cheese-tasters that I’d call them Casonaut “Mice,” but then I read an article that says that mice don’t actually like cheese: The Debunker: Do Mice Really Like Cheese?  Scott Lydon, Woot, January 27, 2014. Excerpt:
“Mice have evolved almost entirely without cheese or anything resembling it,” explained Dr. Holmes. “Cheese is … therefore not something that they would respond to.” In fact, food with sharp odors, like many cheeses, was found to be a distinct turn-off for mice, what with their keen sense of smell and all.
     “What about rats?” My husband asked when I told him this.  “Do rats like cheese?”
     “I don’t know,” I told him.
     “Or squirrels?”
     “I don’t know.”
     If you are a friend, family member, or coworker of mine in Connecticut and would like to help me sample cheese, please let me know.  If you are not yet one of my personal acquaintances but like cheese, I’m always looking for suggestions–please drop me a line sometime via this blog!

Brits run out of goat cheese!

While Superbowl-party-loving Americans are upset about the Great Velveeta Shortage, the British are up-in-arms about their own Great Goat Cheese Shortage.
Seems that goat-cheese has become the cheese of choice for many British cheese-lovers, as it’s easier to digest than cheese made from cow’s milk.  However, Britain is not the best country for raising goats, and goat-milk production is down all over Europe.  (I wonder whether they might now start importing more American goat cheese?)
Katy Salter of the Guardian speculates that the shortage might be good for British vegetarians, however.  In The great goat cheese shortage of 2014,  (January 20, 2014) she writes:
“As bad as the shortage is for farmers, it might be a nice thing for vegetarians who’ll finally get a bit of variation when they’re eating out or round people’s houses,” says food writer Alice Hart, author of Vegetarian. “Goat’s cheese became a stock vegetarian dish in the 1990s, around the same time that balsamic vinegar and sun-dried tomatoes were huge,” ….Both goat’s cheese tarts and salads are still menu fixtures in restaurants and pubs across Britain. Hart would like to see chefs move away from the cheese and create more inventive vegetarian options: “Thai salads, vegetarian summer rolls – something with a bit of pep to it.” If the goat’s cheese shortage lasts much longer, they may be forced to.