- duckdown May 29, 2009 03:06 AM
I am a "cheese noob" but after a trip to Montreal for a sporting event and staying in an expensive skybox, we were served the most amazing cheese and crackers with our alcohol... and I came to find out it was Brie
So this weekend I had some buddies over for fight night, and I picked up some various cheeses to go on crackers (old standbys like balderson aged cheddars, and so on) but also picked up a $10 wedge of Brie. (I shopped at SOBEYS)
Well, the Brie had somewhat of an ammonia smell to it. Google the two words "brie ammonia" and you'll see this is apparently an incredibly common (and debatable) issue. I will fairly add that even with the odd smell, the cheese was pretty delicious and still got entirely eaten....but I can't help but wonder, based on the results from Google, that I've only tried Brie at its worst... so Brie at its best must be even more amazing
Where can I get some amazing, perfectly ripe brie cheese? "Google" tells me that the ammonia smell means over ripened....but perfectly ripe Brie smells like mushrooms or earth...
So I want to know your favorite brands or places to buy in the GTA are.
I was thinking of hitting up The Cheese Boutique in Etobicoke.... But I always feel completely out of place there, unless I'm shopping for meat... and even then, I make a hasty entrance and exit, lol :)
comments, reccomendations, suggestions... all are welcome.
I look forward to hearing what you have to say
There is ripe, and then there is beyond ripe, at least in my opinion, when it comes to cheese. Some people like their cheese so ripe that it has a distinct ammonia smell to it, but not me.
Avoid getting recommendations at the Cheese Boutique from the young kids working behind the counter - Afrim is the guy that you want to talk to (the skinny bald guy). He usually has an excellent Brie De Meaux in stock. That's the brie you want. Otherwise, I would recommend Explorateur, a sensuously rich triple-cream cheese that is one of my favourites - enjoy it on sliced baguette with sliced ripe strawberries and a drizzle of honey.
One of my faves is aged Gouda - ask Afrim what they've got, and go for a small piece of their oldest one (maybe 5 or 8 years) - it will shatter your previous notions of what Gouda is like, with complex notes of port wine and caramel.
The seemingly endless world of cheese can seem daunting at first, but before long you will come to realize what kinds of cheese it is that you truly enjoy. Have fun!
If you want a true brie experience it should be Brie de Meaux, the original french raw milk version that all the others are based on. Try any reputable cheese shop, Alex Farms is a good bet. The cheese should be bulging (or even oozing slightly) away from the rind, even if it's in the fridge. Be sure to let it come to room temperature before you eat it. It will cost you a fair bit more but it is so much more flavourful than the pasteurized versions. Enjoy!
If you want to start the education, I would definitely suggest Alex Farm, but maybe one of the quieter ones, where they've got less crowd and more time to spend with you.The one at the market can be quite busy. The ones on Bayview and Yonge north of Eg are less busy, and it's not out of the ordinary for them to let you try a significant number of cheeses. Basic groups would be soft, hard, blue and stinky.
Maybe a little off topic, but since we are talking about the enjoyment of brie, recently a Quebec cider was released through the LCBO. This makes a great pairing with this cheese. The cider is not as good as some from BC or Normandy, but its not bad. The producer is Clos Saint-Denis. Another regional pairing with brie is calvados. Have fun.
Thank you, everyone, for the suggestions so far
I went by the cheese boutique but by 6pm they were closed already (horrible hours).. so I just want by a Sobeys instead and tried something another person reccomended to me on another forum, which is "St Andre Triple Cream"
another member here reccomended it so I am looking forward to trying it
I wish I could go somewhere else other than the cheese boutique, it's not near where I live.. I wonder if there are any good cheese shops in Mississauga or Brampton
I also second the Costco recommendation - they have a great selection of cheeses, including, sometimes, italian buffalo mozzarella (they had some last week!).
As for the Cheese Boutique's hours, I would say they are very far from horrible:
Monday - Friday 9am to 7pm
Saturday & Sunday 8am to 6pm
Open 360 days a year
As for the St. André, I would recommend the same accompaniments as I did for the Expolorateur: some sliced ripe strawberries and a drizzle of honey on a nice piece of baguette (perhaps with some champagne to accompany!?). Enjoy.
There's a place near Dixie and Burnhamthorpe called Aurora Meat & Cheese. I've only driven by so I don't know how extensive their cheese selection is, but might be worth checking out -
Further south, there's also Starsky's
and even further, Cousin's
Not sure if you can get to Kensington but there is two cheese shops there. Almost side by each. I like the one that's more to the south. They stuffed me full of cheese last time I was there and gave me a comparison test of raw versus paturized versus sheeps milk. Really enjoyed my experience there.
I picked up a killer raw milk Beaufort.
The one closer to the corner has pulled the switcheroo on myself and my dad a few times. You taste a cheese and get home and they've replaced it with something overaged and stinking, especially with brie. They have a wall of cheese between you and them and can't always see what they're doing.
The shop a couple of doors down, has had a wonderfully friendly woman who calls everyone 'my friend' working the last few times I've been in. She's been really helpful making suggestions and best of all you get what you've sampled.
Global Cheese in kensington is great. Their neighbour to the south has screwed me once or twice as well, but they do stock Black Sheep cheddar.
Cheese Magic around the corner is also splendid for some more obscure stuff.
The winner for me is Thin Blue Line on Roncesvalles - around 10 doors from my house. They specialize in stankalicious blues and Quebec cheeses. They will have something for you. Their stock is small and so, turns over often.