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BRIE AUX TRUFFES: a christmas story

 

by: Patricia Michelson

Many years ago, when there was only one La Fromagerie in the leafy suburb of Highbury, the golden glow from the shop was seen from the No. 19 bus as it trundled along its route.  Passengers would stare into the window as they passed, the cheeses piled high, in all shapes and sizes, ready for the Christmas table.

But there was one cheese no-one had ever seen before.  It had a most unusual earthy, mushroom aroma.  This was something special.  Patricia had been visiting Toulouse in the SW of France to meet up with a famous cheesemonger, Xavier and he had taken her to his ‘laboratory’ where he refined and matured his cheeses.  In a corner of the room was a Brie sliced in half into two thin wheels.  “What are you going to do with that” asked Patricia.  Xavier smiled and said this was for their special Christmas treat for their customers.  Brie aux Truffes.  He showed Patricia the mixture in a bowl of what looked like a thick cream speckled with black truffles.  Spreading that generously over one half of the opened Brie he then flipped the other half on top.  “It will be ready tomorrow to sell” he said.  The next day Patricia went to his shop and tasted a piece – it was heavenly – so simple yet so much flavour.  “I will try and do this back in London” she said “I am sure you will try but you won’t be able to buy the fresh Perigord truffles I get!” an amused Xavier laughed.

That Christmas, in 1995, Patricia made her first Brie aux Truffes – mixing up a rich Crème Fraiche with the best truffles she could buy in London and hoped they would be as magical as those from Perigord  Xavier used.  Adjusting the recipe a bit with a thick shower of truffle shavings on top of the cream before flipping on the other half of Brie made sure that the truffle aroma and taste came through.  The two cheeses she made that year for Christmas became a stand-out as Patricia would not sell Brie aux Truffes any other time of the year.  Not even for ready money!

The famous Brie aux Truffes was talked about and admired, and gradually La Fromagerie spread its wings opening another shop in Marylebone in the heart of London.  As the opening date of November 2001 grew closer Patricia decided to bring Brie aux Truffes into the shops earlier – selling on the weekend of the opening.  It made a big impression, and by making its appearance before Christmas all her customers demanded that it had to be in the shop every weekend from then on. 

There is no big secret to the recipe except that the Brie has to be semi-ripe and a farmhouse unpasteurised cheese; the crème fraiche has to be rich, thick and farmhouse made and the truffles have to be fresh and generously applied.  It may seem simple, but in fact it is really the most difficult thing to get the taste and texture absolutely right.  A hand-made Brie aux Truffes is very different from a manufactured one as far as Patricia is concerned. 

When should you enjoy this confection?  Patricia would say – on its own with a glass of Champagne. And on New Year’s Eve as she has done every year Patricia will pop a cork at midnight and welcome the New Year with Brie aux Truffes.  It is a treat, and can be enjoyed along with other cheeses too, but simply on its own it is a celebration.

A very happy festive season and New Year to you all!e


 

OUR OTHER TRUFFLE-FILLED CHEESES

 

While Brie is the cheese that started the Truffle-filled cheese sensation, we also make Camembert aux Truffes and Fougerus aux Truffes - because of their smaller size than a wheel of brie, these cheeses are ideal for the Cheeseboard where a whole cheese will generously serve approximately 4 to 6 guests for a Camembert and approximately 10 to 15 guests for a Fougerus.

 
CAMEMBERT AUX TRUFFES
30.00
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FOUGERUS AUX TRUFFES
65.00
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