For lunch I made my wife a Brie & Cranberry Baguette (one of the few things she found edible when she studied abroad in London)... which she had been craving... but was unable to have during pregnancy.
She enjoyed it very much... but the Brie was not as good as I expected. I used Saint Andre Triple Creme made in France... it was silky, but the flavor was more like butter than Brie... overall too mild & did not make a particularly brilliant pairing for the fresh cranberry sauce.
Anybody know what is the deal with Brie... do you lose character... with "more" Cremes... are there versions made from Sheep or Goat milk that might have more character etc.,
The education is much appreciated.
If you are buying raw milk Brie in the United States, I would not publicize it -- it is illegal, unless it has been aged for sixty days, which is unlikely. Brie de Meaux used to be raw milk, and it slipped through customs for years until someone wised up. Now it is pasteurized specifically for the U.S. market. Same with epoisse.
For a goat's milk brie, try Florette. It is imported from France and has a fuller flavor than most cow's milk bries.
The list of my favorite cheeses is too long to publish, but a few are:
La Tur, a soft mixed milk from Italy
Any goat from Le Fermier
Fourme d'Ambert Sauternes -- a Belgium affinoire buys the cheese in France then ages them in Sauternes wine -- to die for!
Roquefort, especially Carles brand
Aged pecorino Toscanos
And there's nothing like a good Reggiano Parmesan
Agree with recommendation to leave cheese at room temp. (for about 1 hour). I also look for raw milk cheese.
We have access to many good French cheeses here in Quebec, and we also make excellent cheeses here, which I prefer. I don't know if you can get any Quebec cheeses where you are; I know we do export them to Europe for instance. (Otherwise, something to look forward to if & when you come to Montreal for a visit some time!)
Quebec brie info here (interesting descriptions of each, in French only):
Check out the winner of 2006 Canadian cheese competition(which I haven't tried yet but looks great):
I highly recommend a semi-soft cheese (which is not a brie I know, but it's so amazingly good!) called Migneron de Charlevoix:
General info on brie here, which has a link to recipes in which brie is used:
Migneron!!!! I was at Fromagerie Dufour this summer and fell in LOVE with migneron! It came home with me in my suitcase. Such tragedy that I must wait til next summer to return to Quebec to have more migneron! Outside of Quebec, it's only sold in New York (according to the girl who worked there)
(the bleu at Dufour is not too shabby, either!)
Every single brie is going to be different. Some have wonderful flavour and others are simply bland. I suspect that cheesemakers are, to some extent, catering to an unsophisticated and undeveloped palate when they create these tasteless cheeses. You have to try a lot of different brands to find one that has good depth of flavour - it's not just a matter of ripening. I personally snap up any raw milk brie when I find it, which almost always have more flavour. But some pasteurized milk brands are not bad. I just bought a cheese called Le Rustique which is extremely flavourful but is made from pasteurized milk. It's French and available in Canada, anyway. Highly recommended. To nitpick, I don't think it's officially a brie - the box calls it coulommier.
I have to confess I really don't eat a lot of brie, and when I do I just go in to my local specialty cheese shop (shameless plug here for Concord Cheese Shop, Concord, MA) and ask Bill to give me whatever's good. Another poster mentioned Brie de Meaux, which I recognize and I believe is considered one of the better ones (certainly one of the best known), but I suspect the best bries never even make it to the states. Actually, when I'm in the mood for that style of cheese more often than not I'll buy a Hudson Valley camembert made by Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. out of Hudson, NY. I believe they mail order: www.blacksheepcheese.com/
While Saint Andre is brie-like in being a soft ripened cheese with a white moldy rind, I've never really thought of it as being a brie, and the French AOC folks certainly don't think of it as such. I agree that the flavor is somewhat similar, but milder and more buttery - so look for a ripe brie or camembert, or ripen one yourself.
re: Robert Lauriston
I think that might be made by the Marin French Cheese Company in California. It can actually be kind of nice if you age it yourself until ripe, but it will never taste anything like real Brie or real Saint Andre.
I took a tour there once years ago. They put the exact same cheese in boxes labeled "Camembert" and "Brie."