Perhaps the greatest, and best-known, of all French cheeses is “Brie.” It has come to be known as “The Queen of Cheeses,” for good reason. It hails from the French region of Brie, where it gets its namesake, and it is only a few hundred years old. Brie is said to be one of the greatest tributes ever to be paid to French royalty.
The cheese imported in the United States is very different from the real thing back in France. The surface of the cheese is browned in France, which gives the flavor complexity and intensity. The pure-white cheese we get in the states is not mature and fails to properly develop in the eyes of the French. This is done for shelf-life primarily, as the un-stabilized version from France doesn’t keep for long.
Made with whole or semi-skimmed cow’s milk, Brie is considered a soft cheese. Curd is obtained at 37 degrees Celsius once Rennet has been introduced to the raw milk. Once curds form, the cheese is placed into a mold. Several layers are placed atop each other and the mold is stored for 18 hours. The cheese is usually salted once it is removed, and then aged for an additional four weeks at minimum. Brie is also usually served with a thick, white rind around the edges. This rind is not meant to be eaten, although some do, and it helps to preserve the cheese and its flavor in the states. It’s considered a dessert cheese, and is usually served as a small wheel inside of a wood box. It’s best enjoyed at room temperature.