Let’s rewind ten or fifteen years ago to my Quest for the perfect brie. The Quest wasn’t for a blog article; it was because I loved food. I purchased various brands from Costco, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods until I found the most delicious cheese on earth: a double-creme brie called Fromager d’Affinois. I’ve been gushing about it to my friends ever since.
So when dcfud asked me to review cheeses from Fromagerie Guilloteau, the family owned business that makes my all-time favorite cheese, you can imagine how much I bounced off the walls with excitement. They let me try two different cheeses for free, and I loved their triple-creme brie so much that I couldn’t resist buying some for my parents when I visited them that weekend. On my way back from Whole Foods—cheese in hand—I kept giggling because never before had the heavens parted as if to say, “excellent choice, Mark.” When I stopped at a red light, I had to capture the moment. My parents loved it.
Here’s the story behind this review. On my way to work, I stopped at Murray’s in Grand Central Station in New York City. As a purveyor of fine cheeses I thought they’d have a better selection than Whole Foods, who I already knew carried Fromager d’Affinois. Luck was not with me that day, because d’Affinois was all Murray’s had. Given my adoration for that cheese, I couldn’t just review it myself and toss journalistic integrity to the wind. “But wait a second,” I thought. “I have coworkers.” Problem solved.
Welcome to my office, toasted crackers and a pound of double-creme brie. Don’t mind the lustful gazes from my colleagues.
Later, as the brie was being demolished, here’s what everyone had to say:
“I am not a brie expert, but I find it delicious”
“It’s a good one. Not too strong. Not harsh. I like the crust actually.”
“Very creamy. You can tell the difference between cheap brie and good brie. You can tell it’s not a cheap one. After a second helping I would say it’s not just creamy, it’s buttery.” (she informed me that if she came back for thirds, I was to send her away)
“Yeah, it’s double creme. A little nutty.”
The guy with the most sophisticated palate—a Frenchman, as it happens—had the most critical feedback: “It’s good. It’s definitely not a triple creme brie, but it’s good.”
Not a triple-creme? What is this heresy about my favorite cheese sullying my virgin ears! This was the smoothest, sweetest, creamiest brie I’d ever had, and he dared scorn it as “just a double creme?” The rind (white crust) on many bries is bitter or too strongly flavored. Not Fromager d’Affinois. It has a delicate flavor that will hook any cheese lover. And it was being challenged.
I did the only thing I could do. After work, I went to Whole Foods and found Saint Angel, a triple-creme brie from Fromagerie Guilloteau. Could I really tell the difference? Is a triple-creme that much better?
An hour later, I found myself in a molten puddle of cheesy ecstasy. I’m dairy intolerant, but I ate it anyway. It was worth it.
From the first nibble, I couldn’t believe how silky and smooth Saint Angel is. The mouth-feel was so good that I ate it plain. This cheese is so decadently buttery that I wish I’d known about it as a kid. Back then, I used to saturate my corn on the cob with fresh slabs of salted butter. Broccoli got the same treatment because butter is delicious. Saint Angel would have been a perfect addition. A purist would kill me for saying this, but it’d be good with spicy chicken wings, too. Dear purists: marry this brie to your favorite French baguette. You’ll love it too.
Where does this leave us? It leaves me with a new favorite brie and several variations of Fromager d’Affinois to tease me:
- Garlic and mixed herbs
- Truffle (I’m told this is especially good)
- Florette (made from 100% goat’s milk)
- Brebicet (made from 100% sheep’s milk)
- Campagnier (rind tinted with annatto and promises of subtle fruity flavors)
- Bleu (or Saint Géric, which is the triple-creme version of this bleu cheese)
What about you? Care to join me?
–Mark Feghali (MFF)