Sunday, November 2, 2008

Aged Camembert - Tasting

MOUSEBENDER: Camembert, perhaps?
WENSLEYDALE: Ah! We have Camembert, yes sir.
MOUSEBENDER: You do! Excellent.
WENSLEYDALE: Yes, sir. It's, ah ..... it's a bit runny.
MOUSEBENDER: Oh, I like it runny.
WENSLEYDALE: Well, it's very runny, actually, sir.
MOUSEBENDER: No matter. Fetch hither le fromage de la Belle France! M-mmm!

-Monty Python

My first batch of Camembert is finally ready, it has taken about 5 weeks to age. I'm just happy that it looks like Camembert, a big upgrade over my first attempt at cheesemaking. The texture is a bit on the runny side, almost like melted mozzarella (even right out of the refrigerator). The rind has a slightly dense texture, but it isn't chewy or hard.

The flavor is clean (milk/butter), lightly salty, and accented by that mold ripened cheese flavor that I can't describe in any other way. In general it is much more tame than the Brie and Camembert I have had with this much age on it.

I had the first of the two rounds after just two weeks of aging. At that point the cheese was still firm, with a texture pretty close to cream cheese. The flavor was very mild and milky with just a hint of the classic, slightly musty, Camembert aroma. At this stage I was beginning to see the cheese closest to the rind beginning to soften and become slightly runny. The mold works from the outside in, so the center is the last part of the round to ripen.

Ideally I would like to make four rounds next time and try one every week starting after the initial two weeks of aging. I would have liked to see how this cheese tasted last week when it wasn't quite so runny.

Camembert is great on its own or with some bread, duck breast prosciutto, fruit, or a glass of beer. I wouldn't try to pair it with any aggressive beers because it is so mild, something with some fruit would be nice (but nothing too sour), or something crisp and clean like a pilsener works well.

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