Dive into the world of cheese, and you will discover an array of fascinating varieties, each with its unique characteristics and histories. Among these, there’s one cheese that stands out from the crowd for its rich flavor and equally rich history – Brie de Melun. Often touted as the ancestor of all Bries, this French delicacy hails from the Seine-et-Marne region in northern France.
Brie de Melun is not just another cheese; it’s a testament to the art of cheesemaking that has been passed down through generations. This soft, flat-formed cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk offers a taste that is stronger and saltier than its famous cousin, Brie de Meaux. It’s a cheese that demands your attention with its distinct flavor profile and a rind that adds a unique texture to every bite.
Quick Facts About Brie de Melun
|Origin||France, specifically the region of Melun in Seine-et-Marne|
|Cheese Type||Soft-ripened, blue-veined|
|Milk Type||Raw cow’s milk|
|Aging Time||Minimum of 4 weeks, often up to 8 weeks for full flavor development|
|Taste Profile||Strong and salty with hints of ammonia; becomes fruitier as it ages|
|Texture||Creamy and sticky, with a slightly crumbly center|
|Rind||Bloomy, white rind that is edible|
|Pairing Suggestions||Pairs well with a robust red wine, like a Bordeaux or Burgundy, and crusty French bread|
|Serving Occasions||Ideal for cheese boards, in sandwiches, or melted over vegetables|
|Protected Status||Protected by AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) status in France, ensuring its authenticity and quality|
What is Brie de Melun?
Brie de Melun is more than just a cheese; it’s a testament to the culinary artistry and tradition of French cheesemaking. Hailing from the region of Melun in Seine-et-Marne, France, this robust cheese is a true connoisseur’s delight. With its distinctive flavor profile and rich history, Brie de Melun stands out even amidst the vast array of French cheeses.
The flavor is complex and slightly pungent, with hints of ammonia that mellow into a fruitier aftertaste as the cheese ages. This aging process, which takes at least four weeks but often extends up to eight for full flavor development, also gives rise to the cheese’s creamy yet slightly crumbly texture.
The exterior of Brie de Melun is no less remarkable. It is covered with a bloomy, edible white rind that adds a subtle earthy note to the overall taste. This rind, like the cheese itself, is a product of meticulous craftsmanship, achieved through specific aging conditions and the application of special molds during the production process.
What truly sets Brie de Melun apart is its AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) status. This certification guarantees that every wheel of Brie de Melun adheres to strict quality standards and is made according to traditional methods in its designated region of origin. It’s not just a mark of authenticity, but also a promise of the cheese’s exceptional taste and quality.
What Does Brie de Melun Taste Like?
Brie de Melun offers an intense and complex taste experience. It has a strong, salty flavor that can be a bit of a surprise if you’re used to the milder Brie de Meaux. There are also distinct hints of ammonia, which might sound off-putting, but in the world of cheese, this is often a sign of a richly developed flavor.
As Brie de Melun ages, it undergoes a fascinating transformation. The sharp, pungent notes mellow out, giving way to a fruitier aftertaste with earthy undertones. This change is part of what makes Brie de Melun so unique and sought after among cheese lovers.
The texture of the cheese also contributes to its taste. It’s creamy and sticky, but with a slightly crumbly center that adds an interesting contrast when you bite into it. The bloomy white rind that encases the cheese is edible and adds a subtle earthy flavor that complements the strong taste of the cheese itself.
Brie de Melun Tasting Notes
- Appearance: Brie de Melun is a round cheese with a bloomy, white rind. The interior is creamy and pale yellow, which can become nearly white as it ages.
- Texture: The texture is creamy and sticky but with a slightly crumbly center. The rind is soft and adds a subtle contrasting texture when eaten with the cheese.
- Smell: The cheese has a strong, pungent smell with hints of ammonia. This aroma becomes more mellow and complex as the cheese ages.
- Taste: Brie de Melun has a robust and salty flavor. It has a strong initial taste that mellows into a fruitier aftertaste with earthy undertones.
- Aftertaste: The aftertaste is lingering and fruity, with a hint of saltiness remaining on the palate.
- Pairings: This cheese pairs well with robust red wines like Bordeaux or Burgundy. It’s also excellent served with crusty bread, fruits, and nuts. In cooking, it can be used in a variety of dishes where its full flavor can shine through.
- Overall: Brie de Melun is a cheese for the adventurous palate. Its strong flavor and complex profile make it a unique addition to any cheese board or meal.
What is the difference between Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun?
|Brie de Meaux||Brie de Melun|
|Origin||Meaux, France||Melun, France|
|Milk Used||Raw cow’s milk||Raw cow’s milk|
|AOC Status||Yes, since 1980||Yes, since 1980|
|Texture||Soft and creamy||Slightly crumbly, sticky, and creamy|
|Taste||Mild, fruity with a hint of earthy undertones||Strong, salty with a fruitier aftertaste and earthy undertones|
|Smell||Slight ammonia smell that is not overpowering||Stronger ammonia smell that mellows with age|
|Rind||Bloomy, edible rind||Bloomy, edible rind|
|Aging Process||Typically 4-8 weeks||At least 4 weeks, often up to 8 for full flavor development|
|Size||Larger (up to 36 cm in diameter)||Smaller (up to 27 cm in diameter)|
|Pairings||Pairs well with Champagne or a light-bodied red wine like Beaujolais||Pairs well with robust red wines like Bordeaux or Burgundy, crusty bread|
What Pairs Well With Brie de Melun?
Food that goes well with Brie de Melun:
|Category||Food||Reason for Pairing|
|Bread||Country Bread||The robust flavor of country bread complements the strong and salty taste of Brie de Melun.|
|Regional Dishes||Croûte au Brie||Brie de Melun’s intense flavor adds depth to regional dishes.|
|Fruits||Apples, Pears, Strawberries, Grapes, Dried Cranberries||The sweetness of these fruits can balance the strong, salty flavor of Brie de Melun.|
|Nuts||Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans||Nuts add a crunch and contrast to the creamy texture of Brie de Melun.|
|Crackers||Plain or Multigrain Crackers||The mild taste of crackers allows the complex flavor of Brie de Melun to shine.|
|Meat||Prosciutto, Salami||The saltiness of these meats complements the strong flavor of Brie de Melun.|
|Sweet Treats||Honey, Fig Jam||These sweet treats provide a nice contrast to the cheese’s savory flavor.|
Also read: 11 Best Crackers that Pair Well with Cheese
Beverage that goes well with Brie de Melun:
|Category||Beverage||Reason for Pairing|
|Wine||Red Bordeaux, Burgundy||These robust red wines can stand up to the strong, salty flavor of Brie de Melun.|
|Beer||Belgian Ale, Stout||The complexity and carbonation of these beers can balance the richness of Brie de Melun.|
|Cider||Dry Cider||The crispness and slight sweetness of dry cider can complement the salty and earthy flavor of Brie de Melun.|
|Whisky||Single Malt Scotch||The smoky and peaty profile of Scotch can provide a nice contrast to the creamy and salty Brie de Melun.|
|Non-Alcoholic||Sparkling Water, Herbal Tea||These beverages can cleanse the palate and allow you to appreciate the cheese’s flavor more fully.|
The History of Brie de Melun
Brie de Melun is a cheese with a rich history that dates back hundreds of years. It is believed to be the ancestor of all Brie cheeses, and it originated in the Seine-et-Marne region of northern France. This cheese is known to have been popular among French royalty, from Charlemagne to Louis XIV.
The process of making Brie de Melun involves between 12 and 18 hours of fermentation before being stirred into a grainy sort of soup. The cheese is made with unpasteurized milk, which gives it a stronger flavor and a more pungent smell compared to other types of Brie. Brie de Melun is also available in the form of “Old Brie” or black brie.
Despite its long history, the precise origins of Brie de Melun are somewhat uncertain. However, old manuscripts suggest that it existed for many centuries, and some even consider it to be the oldest of all the types of Brie cheeses. It’s a testament to the enduring appeal of this cheese that it continues to be enjoyed today, centuries after it was first created.
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