Friday, February 5, 2010

Camembert Dethroned

Camembert is no longer France's favorite cheese. Some blame the fall on agroalimentary capitalists such as Lactalis. Speaking for myself, as a Francophile/cheeseophile for whom cheese is one of life's great pleasures, despite the implications for one's cholesterol level, camembert has never ranked at the top of my personal list: to get my heart racing (or its arteries clogging), serve Époisses, Mont d'or, or Banon, to name this week's favorites.


satchmo said...

Hard to believe camembert might be losing its preeminence. What is the world coming to; I blame it on le marketing.

I would add Langres to that list of favorities, but of course la physiologie du goût is a more complex affair than mere sales figures and rankings.

kirkmc said...

Hear, hear! Mont d'Or (Vacherin) is one of my faves. Roquefort is too, along with a number of local mountain cheeses we get here in the Alps.

One thing about camembert is it's hard to find a good one that's not got that ammonia smell. You need to go to a real cheese store to get one that's aged correctly.

Passerby said...

Vacherin, Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, St Marcellin, Crotin de Chavignol, Morbier, Gruyère (the real Swiss thing, not copies!)

To name the usual suspects on "plateau à fromage"


Marketing partly, but mainly Camembert made of pasteurized milk. The industry failed to get the AOC label, but still the quality (and hence the name) of the cheese suffered. Same story with the Brie unfortunately.


Next time you get your hands on a Mont-d'Or try sticking it in the oven with its wooden box. Ideally, if you can add a few drops of Vin Jaune.
After you just need to get some good bread and nothing else matters...

satchmo said...

I agree entirely about the pasteurization question; I was being a little facetious. That downhill slide has been underway.

I'll try the Mont-d'Or oven thing; I've never done that. Thanks for the tip. All this is only making lunchtime today more dreary where I am, not exactly un terroir idéal for this question.

Leo said...

At last Art has decided to address a serious issue on his blog.
And the readers have shown their usual bias:

Not a single goat cheese quoted!
Up there, close to the Gods lie the super elite of cheeses:
Pouligny Saint Pierre, Selles-sur-Cher, Pélardon...

As for the demise of Camembert, it should not be mourned. It's the industrial plastery version that was widely consumed. Pretty good as building material but tasteless.

Finally I would advise trying the rather unknown cheeses from the North: Maroilles of course, but above all Gris de Lille.
Those who treat us of Surrender Cheese Eating Monkeys should know better: NO foreign army has resisted the pungent smell of Gris de Lille. Ali the Chemical was a little kid compared to the unknown benefactor who invented this stuff.

Cincinna said...

At last! A subject even more controversial and partisan than la politique!

Great French cheese is still available, more available than ever. certainly here in NY. Murray's and Fairway are my sources. Nothing comes close to the artisanal local Camembert one finds at farms and small cheese shops in the countryside in France, so I just avoid it.

All time favorites of mine are a perfectly ripened Chaource and a great fresh fromage du chevre very similar to la Brousse of Provence, le Petit Billy.

To serve, cover one Petit Billy with Herbes de Provence and wrap in cheesecloth for a few days, I like to serve the fresh Chevre (scrape off the herbs first)with a simple mesclun dressed with Olive Oil from Alzieri Nice. Serves 2-4 as entree or cheese course. The recipe is not mine, but comes from dear friends Jean and Christiane Giusti who owned La Merenda in Nice for many, many years.

Le Petit Billy is also nice served (no herbs) drizzled with Miel du Lavande. I get mine from Alzieri in Nice as well.

the fly in the web said...

What about Munster? You can still find decent munster occasionally, but finding the caraway seed to sprinkle on it can be more difficult.

Unknown said...

Leo, Banon is a goat cheese! And let's not forget the ewes, youse guys.

MYOS said...

Petit Billy and all the soft goat cheese, brie, cantal, caillé de brebis. Tried Maroilles and remembered the scene in Bienvenue chez les Chti where it's breakfast, dunked in coffee! The smell is enough to kill you on the spot but, like andouillette, if you pinch your nose, it's actually rather soft and good. But still, for breakfast, ewwww.
I have for a long time wondered whether I was the only one disliking camembert....

Note: if you're looking for cream cheese to make cheesecake, use "kiri", it works. On the other hand, do NOT attempt a cheesecake with "vache qui rit", it's unedible.

Passerby said...


Crotin de chavignol is a goat cheese.
No "plateau" would be complete without some goat cheese..


Le Petit Billy is a frequent visitor to my fridge. I appreciate it but never spoke with as much passion about it as you just did. I will look at it differently tomight! :-)