Brie le Chatelain: Classic French Brie for the States

September 14, 2010

We’ve been sampling a lot of creamy and pungent cheese this summer, so our next logical choice was a good French Brie.  However, due to import laws, the Brie made from raw milk cannot be imported directly to the U.S.  Often, the French-made Bries available in U.S. markets are weak approximations of the classic cheese.  Fortunately, we found Brie le Chatelain.

Brie le Chatelain is a soft, bloomy rind cheese from France.   This cheese uses pasteurized cow’s milk from cows grazing in the Vosges region.  Brie le Chatelain was developed expressly to meet the United States’ market restrictions and recently won a prestigious award in France.  It is a very good substitute for the classic foreign favorite.

La Chatelain Brie

Brie le Chatelain has a snowy white rind, rippled with soft brown.  The interior paste is buttery yellow and has the consistency of buttercream icing.

Brie le Chatelain’s paste has a vegetal aroma similar to cooked broccoli or cabbage.  Its rind smells mushroomy.  To the touch, the rind is dry while the paste is wet and pliable.

Brie le Chatelain has a wonderfully creamy texture on the tongue.  The paste is smooth and slightly runny.  Its flavors are similar to sour milk and cooked green cabbage.  Brie le Chatelain’s sour and bitter flavors are countered with a light saltiness, but the sourness dominates.  This cheese’s sour flavors linger long on the tongue.

Brie le Chatelain divided our table along generational lines: the adults enjoyed this cheese, while the juvenile tasters did not like it at all.  Neither of my kids finished their initial tasting sample, as both were put off by the cheese’s bitter vegetal flavor.

Our sample of Brie le Chatelain was at perfect ripeness–creamy yet runny, with a strong aroma and flavor.  The cheese clung to its wrapper, collapsed under knife pressure, and was a bit messy.  Brie le Chatelain is way too delicate for a picnic cheese or a communal cheese plate.  It is a good cheese to divide up onto individual plates before serving.

Notes on purchasing:  Our purchase source was 24th Street Cheese Co. (San Francisco).


3 Responses to “Brie le Chatelain: Classic French Brie for the States”

  1. Corrie Says:

    I’m glad to hear such an accurate description of this brie. We bought some at our local (and slightly sketchy) supermarket. When we opened it, I immediately caught the broccoli essence and having mostly experienced the mild american versions of brie, we were slightly skeptical, but unsure if we had just become unaccustomed to the prevalence of smelly cheeses. I’m glad to be assured that our cheese is indeed a good buy (for an adult pallet at least!)

  2. […] party.  Unfortunately, the go-to party cheese is often brie, but unless one gets a good brie (see Brie le Chatelain), most versions available in the US are weak copies of the classic.  These cheeses can also be […]

  3. Second time with Brie le Chatelain was a charm with my kids! I couldn’t resist taking this cheese on my last shopping trip. I shared it at our weekly cheese tasting, noting that only the adults liked it last time around. This time, my kids pronounced it delicious. Hoorah! Their tastes are evolving.

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