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Camembert : Interesting Facts and Pairing Ideas

In our series of articles on interesting facts and pairing ideas, for different types of cheese, the next cheese is Camembert, a soft, creamy, earthy, flavorful Northern French cheese which shares some similar cheese making techniques with its neighboring Brie cheese.

Camembert cheese
Camembert cheese

Interesting Facts

  1. Camembert was first made in the late 18th century at Camembert, Normandy, in northern France.
  2. According to legend, Camembert was first made in 1791 by Marie Harel, a dairymaid from Normandy, using a recipe from a priest from the Brie region, who was fleeing the anti-clerical French Revolution.
  3. Marie Harel is said to have made some slight modification to the recipe, removing cream, making them in smaller wheels and also packaging the cheese in thin round wooden containers.
  4. More than her contribution to the Camembert recipe, Marie Harel is credited for founding a cheese-making family with a great commercial sense.
  5. The thin round wooden containers are partly the reason why the cheese became so popular, making it perfect to transport across the Atlantic.
  6. Though many modern cheese-makers, use pasteurized milk for reasons of compliance with regulations or convenience, the original Camembert was made from unpasteurized milk.
  7. The AOC (appellation d'origine) variety 'Camembert de Normandie' produced in the Normandy region is required by guidelines to be made only with unpasteurized milk.
  8. Camembert is a soft-ripened cheese with a characteristic outer bloomy rind which occurs due to a unique beneficial mold called Penicillium candidum that is added to the milk or sprayed onto the cheese during ripening or maturation process. The ripening process occurs from the rind (outside surface) inward to the interior and gives the cheese its softer texture and earthy mushroom-like flavor.
  9. Camembert and Brie are both made from cow's milk and are soft-ripened cheeses but the major different between them is that during the cheese-making process cream is added to Brie and not in Camembert, giving Brie a higher milk fat content, and a creamier texture. Brie also has been around longer than Camembert.
  10. Camembert cheese is a good source of calcium and rich in phosphorus, Vitamin A and Vitamin B2 also called riboflavin. It also provides vitamin B12 which slows down brain aging, protects against heart disease and facilitates the growth of nerve cells.

Pairing Ideas

Camembert has a smooth, earthy, buttery, creamy, nutty, fruity flavor. Though Camembert shares some common flavors with Brie, it has a deeper, more earthy and intense flavor and aroma.

Cheese tasting
Cheese tasting

What to Serve with Camembert

Camembert is a perfect pairing with a crusty baguette, fruits, crackers, pecans, and hazelnuts.

Camembert can also be served with a traditional glass of Normandy cider or Calvados an apple brandy from the Normandy region.

Camembert cheese can be paired with beer, wine or whiskey. The important aspect of pairing is to achieve balance of flavor, as the cheese should not overpower the drink or the drink should not bury the flavor of the cheese.

Pairing Camembert and Beer

Camembert pairs well with Czech pilsners which are crisp with a hint of caramel sweetness from the malt and a slightly spicy bitterness from the Saaz hops. They also go well with IPAs due to the bitterness of the hops which cuts through the buttery, creamy, sweet fruit flavor of the cheese.

Camembert can also be paired with a Belgium saison due to its yeast-derived fruity and earthy notes with a subtle spice flavor.

Pairing Camembert and Wine

Camembert with its mild nutty, earthy taste and buttery, creamy, fruity flavor is a good pairing with crisp white wines having good acidity and fruit flavors like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay, or a Torrontes. It also goes well with sparkling wines like Champagne and Cava or a spicy, aromatic and fruity Gew√ľrztraminer.

Camembert can also be paired with light red wines having good fruit aromas like Pinot Noir, Merlot, Gamay based Beaujolais, lighter Saint Emilion wines or a robust and earthy Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape.

Pairing Camembert and Whiskey

Camembert with its combination of nutty and sweet flavor pairs well with single malt scotch from Speyside which tend to be sweet with notes of caramel. It can also be paired with rye whiskey which has a spicy, earthy character that can counterbalance the creamy sweet taste of the cheese.

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