Proclaimed “the king of all cheeses” during the Congress of Vienna in 1968, this soft cow’s milk cheese has been produced in the Seine-et-Marne since the seventh century. It was a favorite of both the emperor Charlemagne and King Henry IV. Although Brie-style cheeses are produced all over the world, the oldest and most popular varieties, Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun, are required by French law to be made with raw milk of the region (appellation d’Origine Controlee)—and thus are prohibited from crossing into U.S. borders. No rules in the U.S. govern what can be called a ‘Brie.’ A local importer trademarked “Brie de Meaux” in the 70’s allowing anyone to slap a label onto cheeses that are made with pasteurized milk resulting in a different texture and flavor. Six varieties are produced in France. The final taste depends on the size of the mold used to contain the coagulated raw milk curd and the length of time it ages. In its prime, the velvety white rind of Meaux should smell like a fresh, damp forest, while the interior tastes of butter and hazelnuts. Brie de Melun has a stronger, saltier flavor that is also tart. The crust (“la croute fleuri”), which develops when penicillium mold grows on it after it’s been rubbed with salt, is meant to be eaten. Cheesemakers say the crust is both good for your health, and essential to taste. Here are some cheese shops where you can shop for your “wow” moment. Androuet 134, rue Mouffetard – Paris 5; 37, rue de Verneuil – Paris 7; 93, rue de Cambronne – Paris 15; 17, rue des Belles Feuilles – Paris 16; 1, rue Bois le Vent – Paris 16; 23, rue de la Terrasse – Paris 17; 13, rue Daguerre – Paris 14 www.androuet.com
Fromagerie Damrémont – Chez Virginie 54 Rue Damrémont, 75018
Fromagerie Quatrehomme 9 rue du Poteau 75018 Paris www.quatrehomme.fr
Fromagerie Laurent Dubois 2 Rue de Lourmel, 75015
Ferme Saint Hubert 36 Rue de Rochechouart, 75009
Fromager Marie-Anne Cantin 12 Rue du Champ de Mars, 75007
Barthélémy 51 Rue de Grenelle, 75007
You’ll spy many of these shops on your walking tours in the No Worries Paris guidebook.