The first thing to leap out of my refrigerator this morning was a delightful French Brie “with fruit” from Pomegranate in Brooklyn. What’s not to like about a delicate Brie filled with fruite paste and topped with slices of plump dates?
This Brie is evidence that the kosher market is changing. Not only is this cheese gourmet and reasonable ($12.99 lb. falls well within the average range of pricing for imported specialty cheese), the fact that there is a gourmet kosher marketplace ready and willing to select, prepare, and package this cheese is amazing. Along with the broad range of pre-packaged kosher cheeses at Pomegranate (check out the recent review on Chaim Szmidt’s The Kosher Scene), this store also has its own supervision and state-of-the-art packaging capability, making it possible for them to offer innovative in-house kosher cheeses that are ready for the party platter.
Of course a shopper can make a Brie torte at home, but it will cost about the same, and anybody who has every fumbled around trying to make a runaway sticky Brie cooperate with an equally sticky date paste knows that it is much easier just to buy off the shelf! The Brie comes ready-to-serve, packed in a very sturdy protective wrap. (I bought an 8-oz. irregular piece.)
To serve, simply slice one end and gently pull the plastic away to release the cheese. It is best to plate this cheese when it is still cold because the ingredients in Brie tortes tend to slide around or flatten when sliced at room temperature. I suggest buying a whole round, which is a great size for a small get-together and weighs in just around 1 lb. Cut a generous wedge out of one side and cut it neatly into chunks so that guests can serve themselves knife-free; Brie rinds sometimes cause the cheese layers to shift. Toothpicks might be in order!
Serve the cheese at room temperature, which, in my experience, was after about an hour and a half. Make sure to keep the cheese covered with plastic wrap so that it doesn’t dry out on the plate. Don’t forget, this is a genuine French Brie and it demands spa-like treatment and recognition. Brie is a traditional bloomy-rinded cow cheese with origins in the Brie region of northern France. Its rind, which has been exposed to a strain of edible mold, develops a downy layer of white. As the cheese ripens from the outside in, it becomes luxuriously silky with flavors of fresh farm cream and pensive French countryside. Vive la France! C’est chic! Et c’est kacher!