I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who was sweet enough to comment on my last post. Every time a new comment popped up, I couldn’t help but smile. So thank you to you all for that. I’m muddling through it, but I have to believe that things can only get better. Especially if my recent fortune cookie is to be believed:
I got that fortune when picking up Chinese food after the Foodbuzz Festival. Though I have a suspicion they keep cookies like that separate and hand them out to all the single ladies. But enough of all this mopey talk. It’s time to discuss one of the loves that never lets me down – cheese.
Il de France Cheese recently reached out to me to see if I would be interested in doing a Brie tasting. They offered to send me their Brie cheese along with those from a few other brands (Simply Enjoy, Joan of Arc, and President) to compare. Being an unabashed cheese lover, I couldn’t say no. It also seemed like the perfect time for a Brie tasting since it is often a staple of holiday entertaining, which shockingly isn’t that far off.
But first things first, what is Brie exactly? I get this question a lot from my friends and figured there might be a few readers who were curious as well.
It’s a part of a family of cheeses known as soft-ripened or bloomy rind cheeses. Knowing what family a cheese falls into is helpful because if you like one cheese within the family you may like another.
A soft-ripened cheese is one that gets softer and creamier when it ripens. The cheese ripens from the outside in. (If you look closely in the photo below you can see a darker outer rim just inside the rind on the cheese on the left which is softer than the lighter middle.) The bloomy rind describes the outside of the cheese. The rind is created by bacteria that is either added to the milk used to make the cheese or sprayed on after it’s been formed. (And sometimes both.)
So now that you know what Brie is. So how did the cheeses taste? I took notes on all four and also tried them in some cooking applications (recipes to come) to see how they would perform. Below are my notes, but I always encourage you to try for yourself as well since every palate is different.
I started first with the Simply Enjoy, which is a store brand cheese. I found it slightly sweet and mild flavored, but not quite as creamy as I’d hoped for. In fact, because of the texture it made me question if I even liked Brie cheese. While the flavor was fine, it had an almost rubbery texture like American cheese. It was okay for using in cooking, but I didn’t enjoy eating it straight. I think store brand products have come a long way in a lot of categories, but cheese wasn’t one of them.
Next up was President. The first thing I noticed was that it had a thicker rind than the first, probably the thickest rind of all I would try. Flavor-wise, it had a slight mold flavor that was a bit distracting. I could see this being unappealing to many people. However, it was much creamier than the Simply Enjoy, a definite improvement. Again, this wasn’t a cheese I would necessarily eat plain, but it performed just fine in cooking and better than the Simply Enjoy.
Then it was on to the Joan of Arc. It was very creamy, perhaps the creamiest I tried and didn’t have any of the off flavors of the President. Overall, it tasted very clean and buttery and would be a perfect for someone who likes a rich and creamy cheese and mild flavors. It was among my two favorites of the bunch.
And last but not least was the Il de France. Like the Joan of Arc, I liked it a lot. It was also very creamy, rich and had a nice milky flavor to it as well as a slight grassiness, which I like. These characteristics made it my other favorite of the bunch. Il de France described it as having a slight flavor of mushroom, a common characteristic of Brie cheeses, though I didn’t pick it up here. My only complaint was that the rind seemed a bit on the thick side, but otherwise it was absolutely delicious. It also performed really well in cooking. I used it to make some Brie-Apple Bites in Puff Pastry and when baked, it was delightfully melty. In fact the recipe was so good I made it for two outings in one week. They were delicious and I cannot wait to share the recipe with you this week.
But don’t just take my word for it, Il de France wants to offer one Pink Apron reader a generous prize package including a cheese board, cheese dome, knife and selection of cheese. Though I haven’t seen it in person, I’m smitten with the look of that dome. It reminds me a lot of this one, which I’ve had my eye on and looks perfect for holiday entertaining.
Want to win? Leave a comment telling me what your favorite cheese is.
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*Please be sure to come back here and leave another comment for each additional entry telling me what you did. (i.e. If you tweet about this and add me to your blogroll, come back and add a separate comment for each.)
I’ll be accepting entries now through 11:59 pm Monday, November 14.
Please note, Il de France sent me these four cheeses to sample, but the ideas and opinions represented in this post are my own.