Serious Cheese: Stoke the Holiday Fire with Président's Brie Log
"This would be a great cheese to pick up for last-minute, run-to-the-supermarket-before-it-closes style of entertaining."
Président Cheese, makers of the ubiquitous wheels of "deli" brie, have released a new cheese they're calling the "Brie Log." They claim it has the same taste as their normal brie but comes in a convenient log shape with a 1-inch diameter, which means that its slices fit perfectly on crackers or bread rounds. A cool and interesting twist on an old classic, but how does it stack up?
The folks from Président sent me a log last week, just before Thanksgiving. It arrived at my office frozen in a cooler pack and enclosed in a sealed wrapper. The whole thing was reminiscent of a Good Humor Chocolate Eclair—not the kind of image that inspires confidence in this cheese lover. Freezing cheese usually kills it, as the ice crystals that form in the paste can break the delicate membranes of the fat globules in the cheese, leaking milkfat once its defrosted. At first I was planning on breaking the cheese out during Thanksgiving, but since it was already frozen when I got it, I decided to keep it in the freezer and wait till after the holiday.
In the end, freezing didn't seem to have much effect on the cheese, which came to room temperature quite nicely. Granted, I first defrosted it in the refrigerator and then brought it to room temperature, so the change was very gradual. But given the cheese's austere ingredient list (pasteurized cow's milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), its success post-freezing was a nice surprise.
The whole log weighs in at six ounces, which, at appetizer portions, is enough to serve about two or three people (unless you serve some other appetizers as well). On the back of the wrapper are a couple of serving suggestions, both of which involve, predictably, serving a slice of the cheese canapé-style.
The first suggestion combines the cheese with raspberry preserves and kumquat, and the second with kiwi and red currants. The photo above was inspired by the former and combines the brie, raspberry preserves, and lemon rind on a whole-wheat bread round.
The taste is pretty decent. The cheese will never win any awards for complexity or nuance, but it is creamy and buttery enough and doesn't have any of the off flavors that I so often find in other mass-produced bries. However, since the log is fairly small in diameter, there is a much higher surface-to-volume ratio than a more traditional brie, and so the taste of the rind figures prominently in the cheese. So if you love a bloomy white rind, you will probably enjoy this cheese's moldy flavor; but if you're not a fan, you may be put off.
Ultimately, this would be a great cheese to pick up for last-minute, run-to-the-supermarket-before-it-closes style of entertaining. But it doesn't really belong on the same plate as cheeses that have more depth of flavor, texture, or intrigue. Has anyone else out there tried this cheese? If so, let us know what you think about it!