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May 29, 2009 03:06 AM

Brie cheese?

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


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  1. 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

      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

        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

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

      3. The original comment has been removed
        1. 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. 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

              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

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

                1. re: pearlD

                  Great news!!! The closest one yet.

            2. 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.