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Brie cheese?

duckdown May 29, 2009 03:06 AM

Greetings, all

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

Cheers

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  1. redearth RE: duckdown May 29, 2009 03:56 AM

    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!

    3 Replies
    1. re: redearth
      h
      Hondapendragon RE: redearth May 29, 2009 12:04 PM

      I absolutely second the Cheese Boutique suggestion.
      Afrim knows his stuff and the shop carries great cheeses. Although not brie, try the Prima Donna if you get a chance. It's my favourite.

      Cheese Boutique 45 Ripley Avenue Toronto, ON M6S 3P2 - (416) 762-6292

      1. re: Hondapendragon
        j
        JennaBean RE: Hondapendragon May 29, 2009 12:14 PM

        I adore the Cheese Boutique. Not only do they have the greatest cheese (sample Roaring Forties while you are there it is, IMO, the most amazing blue) but their steaks aged with the cheese blow my mind. YUM!

      2. re: redearth
        Full tummy RE: redearth Jun 1, 2009 09:46 AM

        Yes, yes, yes! Wholeheartedly agree with the Explorateur recommendation. So luscious, and I've never had a pungent one.

      3. c
        cheesymama RE: duckdown May 29, 2009 04:04 AM

        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!

        1. a
          Arcadiaseeker RE: duckdown May 29, 2009 06:19 AM

          I've had great recommendations from Alex Farm at St. Lawrence Market and the prices are pretty reasonable. And I really see no debate on the ammonia/cheese front -- there is nothing worse than a mouthful of cheese that tastes like cat wee.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Arcadiaseeker
            s
            Snarf RE: Arcadiaseeker May 29, 2009 07:25 AM

            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.

            1. re: Snarf
              p
              pearlD RE: Snarf May 31, 2009 01:55 PM

              BTW.... I've been told that ALEX FARMS will be opening a branch on Eglinton Avenue West....slightly west of Bathurst.....

              1. re: pearlD
                a
                acd123 RE: pearlD Jun 1, 2009 07:06 AM

                Great news!!! The closest one yet.

          2. d
            dubchild RE: duckdown May 29, 2009 01:47 PM

            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.

            1. duckdown RE: duckdown May 30, 2009 06:42 PM

              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

              Cheers!

              5 Replies
              1. re: duckdown
                jayt90 RE: duckdown May 30, 2009 07:53 PM

                In your area (northwest) I would think Costco might be a destination. They have St. Andre, Champ Fleury, Gorgonzola (a real treat) and Brie from Quebec, all at half the price of the boutique. There is also a nice triple creme goat cheese from Ontario.

                1. re: jayt90
                  t
                  torontofoodiegirl RE: jayt90 May 31, 2009 12:50 PM

                  Campfleury is really tasty.

                2. re: duckdown
                  redearth RE: duckdown May 31, 2009 04:05 AM

                  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:

                  Hours:
                  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.

                  1. re: redearth
                    redearth RE: redearth May 31, 2009 03:35 PM

                    To update re: buffalo mozzarella at Costco - they still have a lot in stock - I was there today, and picked up another. At $8.99, this is a great bargain, and it's an excellent example of real Italian buffalo milk mozzarella.

                  2. re: duckdown
                    JamieK RE: duckdown May 31, 2009 05:13 AM

                    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 -
                    http://www.aurorameat.ca/mississauga_...

                    Further south, there's also Starsky's
                    http://www.starskycanada.com/

                    and even further, Cousin's
                    http://cousinsmarket.com/deli.html

                  3. Davwud RE: duckdown Jun 1, 2009 05:18 AM

                    Hey Duck.

                    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.

                    DT

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Davwud
                      duckdown RE: Davwud Jun 1, 2009 09:29 AM

                      Hey davwud

                      yeah kensington is quite far from me, but once and a while i make it to that area

                      i will definitely check them out if i can get down there

                      thanks :)

                      cheers

                      1. re: Davwud
                        Dr Butcher RE: Davwud Jun 1, 2009 09:57 AM

                        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.

                        1. re: Dr Butcher
                          jayt90 RE: Dr Butcher Jun 1, 2009 10:18 AM

                          I think she was reprimanded by a health inspector for having too much on the counter, unrefrigerated last winter. But that would be my choice. The other place has been playing games like bait and switch since the 60's, and it is ingrained in the store culture.

                          1. re: Dr Butcher
                            Davwud RE: Dr Butcher Jun 1, 2009 11:40 AM

                            That's the one. I remember her calling me "My friend."

                            DT

                          2. re: Davwud
                            s
                            svanegmond RE: Davwud Jun 1, 2009 03:18 PM

                            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.

                          3. k
                            katbri RE: duckdown Jun 2, 2009 08:33 AM

                            Does anyone know of a good cheese shop in the Danforth area? Anywere between Broadview and Woodbine.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: katbri
                              Full tummy RE: katbri Jun 2, 2009 08:40 AM

                              There is an Alex Farms near Chester, on Danforth, but I can't attest to quality, except for the name.

                              1. re: katbri
                                j
                                JennaBean RE: katbri Jun 2, 2009 09:01 AM

                                If you are willing to go south to Queen try the Leslieville Cheese Shop at Logan.

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