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Jan 30, 2006 04:32 PM

Two basic questions about brie

  • h

Can someone tell me:

1. What is the difference between brie and camembert?

2. Is there an Italian form of ripened cheese (brie, camembert, something else)? Such a thing has to exust, but I don't think I've ever heard of it, or seen it on sale anywhere.

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  1. There is a difference, in fact, several differences between brie and camembert. For a start, brie is a very old French cheese, going back hundreds of years, whereas Camembert is a relatively new cheese, invented, so they say, by a cheesemaker in the village of Camembert in Normandy.

    The other thing to mention is that, in France, brie is almost never white, but rather a rusty brown color, at least on the outside. It is then that it is considered truly ripe, unlike the brie that we get here, which never actually ripens. In France, brie can look pretty bad, and still taste smooth and soft and creamy.

    Camembert, on the other hand, goes soft and softer, but never disintegrates the way brie doese. Would others care to elaborate?

    Both cheeses are made from cow's milk.

    Good question about Italian equivalents, and I'm sure there must be some. I plan a quick dash to Murray's this weekend to see what Italian options are.

    1. As for the Italian cheese, you are probably thinking of Taleggio, which when in good form is way better than the Brie or Camembert we get stateside.

      Rather than paying more for the poor imitations the French are allowed to export, I recommend you instead get Blythedale Farms brie or camembert (which are not the same as the genuine thing either, but are better versions of the imported imitations).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Karl S

        Thanks for that elucidation, Karl. I look forward to trying the Blythedale cheese this weekend, assuming Murray's has it.

      2. the fundamnetal difference between brie and camembert, as already stated, is that they are from different regions and thus, the cows and their milk have different "terriors".

        but ok, i disagree that the the cheeses in the US are not worth trying - while the unpasturized illegal versions may be superior, i still love Fromage de meaux, a rich and creamy brie that is aged 4-6 weeks and packaged in a wooden box. Brie de Nangis is a bit mellower, if the former is a bit much. Also in the brie family, I love Fougerus - you can identify it from the fern leave on the top. I think it is delicious with red burgandies and rhone wines. it is definitely available in NYC b/c I have bought it before from artisnal online.

        Continuing in the vein of double and triple cream cheeses but from italy, try La Tur, Robiola Tre Leche, Rochetta, or Breschianella Stagniolata, or plain Breschianella. They are all creamy but some are stinky (the last one!). La Tur is a blend of cow, goat and sheep. Jean Grogne, another French cheese, is also creamy, delicious and right in the same taste family.

        If you like the texure of the creamiest brie and don't mind stink, you gotta go with a ripe Epoisse from a cheese maker who can tell which is the best (from shaking the wooden box)....then leave it out, unrefridgerated but in the wooden box overnight...and viola)

        1 Reply
        1. re: laurie

          Make that another vote for Brescianella. Somewhat apples and oranges, but I'd take a Vacherin Mont d'Or over Epoisse.