Posted by Carten Cordell / Thursday, January 24th, 2013
Before the French Revolution in the late 1700s, brie was a cheese only nobility had the luxury of eating. Today, you can find it at Safeway. But there’s still etiquette to be had. To help future diners, we’ve talked to Cheesetique‘s cheesemonger Gina Aylward and a few other area cheese experts to better understand the proper way to consume the “king’s cheese,” brie.
1. The Temperature
An hour before guests arrive is a great time to take brie out of the fridge to release its chill. But depending on its usage, can be served warmer. “Brie is best served at room temperature,” says La Bergerie‘s chef de cuisine, Adrienne Guitierrez, “but it can be hot if you’re going to have it on a sandwich.”
2. The Presentation
Traditionally, brie cheese is cast in a wheel mold. You can serve the entire wheel, or just a segment on any type of plate or board. If you’d like, you can also slice one or two pieces (and no more, or the cheese will dry out) of brie and lay them aside for guests to see the proper size and thickness of each serving.
3. The Faux Pas
Though this may sound a bit silly, cutting the more desirable tip from the wedge of Brie is frowned upon. In France, this misstep is called “pointing the cheese”. The center of the wheel is where most of the flavor resides, and the very reason cutting a slice is done from the radius (outer edge) to the center.
4. The Quantity
The amount of cheese that should be served on a plate depends on the number of stomachs that will be ingesting it. Cheestique’s “Ask the Cheese Lady” FAQ recommends 4 ounces of cheese per person.
5. The Crust
The outer crust of brie is called the penicillium camemberti, which is just a fancy (okay, scientific) way of saying fungus. Don’t let this deter you! This hard, salty, white, waxy outside layer, also called the rind, along with the softer, creamier inside creates a harmonizing balance of texture.
6. The Knife
This tip goes for all cheeses: each block or wheel of cheese should have its own knife because of differing textures. (You wouldn’t cut a tomato with a butter knife.) Brie is a soft, ripened cheese and requires a long, thin blade.