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Meet the King of All Cheeses - The Brie Cheese

Aug 17, 2007
If you are a true blue cheese-lover through and through, then just saying 'brie' would excite your taste buds. Perhaps you would even salivate. Brie cheese, with its rich history to back it up and a truly impeccable taste that matches meat, vegetables, fruits or sauces, deserves more than a minute of attention.

According to some legends, Emperor Charlemagne of France had his first bite of the creamy cheese and instantly fell in love with it. Who wouldn't, anyway? Brie cheese tastes fruity and is also soft and creamy. Perhaps your interest towards this type of cheese would be doubled if you would learn that Charlemagne's dying wish was to have a 'last bite' of his favorite brie! But all of that was way back in the eighth century and until now, the cheese's popularity has not waned.

In addition to the famous Charlemagne legend, a certain Frenchman named Talleyrand suggested a worldwide competition where judges would decide which cheese was the best. Naturally, brie cheese ran away with the title: "King of All Cheeses".

The 'original' French Brie is manufactured in Seine-et-Marne in Paris. It got its name from La Brie which is one of the provinces of Northern France. Modern day French, call it, well - French Brie.

And no one could contest the way brie has withstood the test of time because it still is the number one cheese in France (with about 400+ different types all over the country).

It is actually illegal to import this type of cheese in the United States because milk products that are used for cheese processes should be aged 60 days, at least. So for those who could not afford to go to Paris and buy the 'real thing', they can buy from those who manufacture this cheese locally.

French Brie is made of cow's milk (unpasteurized). Its commercial counterparts, on the other hand, are made of whole or skim milk (pasteurized). True Brie is a mixture of the following flavors: hazelnut, herbs and fruits. It is not cooked. It is only heated to just below 37 degrees Celsius during the stage of renneting. After heating, it is placed in mold and sprinkled with dry salt.

The process of maturation, which is about four weeks (or more), takes place in a cellar. These cellars are specially built for the purpose of creating brie cheese. These cellars should maintain a certain temperature to ensure that the fragile cheese is not destroyed. Since this is so, brie cheese manufacturers are not assured that maturation would really take place. Much risk is involved in this type of business.
The 'real Brie' naturally develops molds around its exterior while the commercial ones have to be sprayed with spores (artificial ones) around the edges to develop the same result. The moldy exterior is actually edible and should be served together with whatever food goes with the cheese or when it is served, alone, as an appetizer.

Now let's get down to the most interesting part: eating Brie. The best way to consume brie is to have it at room temperature. As an appetizer, brie cheese is delectable and very versatile. It is usually paired with crackers, fruits, nuts and even breads.

There are so many ways of cooking and presenting brie. And the best wines to go with this mouth-watering cheese? 'Cote-du-Rhone' (a type of red wine), Chardonnay, Beaujolais Nouveau, Burgundy or Bordeaux (still red) and, of course, champagne. The keywords are: any sparkling wine.

For cooking, brie is best used as a topping for certain foods. If one is interested in knowing some recipes that use brie cheese, there are several of them that are offered on some websites. Examples of brie recipes that you could research are:

1. Baked Brie (with Amaretto)
2. Baked Potatoes with Brie
3. Spicy Roast Beef and Brie Panini
4. Rose-glazed Brie
5. Four Cheese Pate
6. Brie-stuffed Chicken Breasts
7. Savory Cheesecake
8. Walnut-glazed Brie
9. Upscale Cuban Panini Sandwiches
10. Black Olive Pate

Being able to know the history and the qualities that made Brie 'King' is as important as enjoying the meals this cheese improves. After all, you just don't just crown something for no reason. Brie IS king and will remain so for many years more. We can bet on that!
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for http://cheese.topicgiant.com where you can learn more about making cheese, cheese recipes and different types of cheese like brie cheese.
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