I was in my local market the other day, checking out the cheese — as I always do — when something caught my eye on the package of Comox Brie: a gold medal. A cheese gold medal.
You see, I purposefully overlooked this cheese because it’s always at my local market. I made the mistake of assuming that anything that could be widely purchased was pedestrian. And that’s just foolish snobbery on my part.
Do not be trapped into this assumption. I can’t tell you how many “artisan” type handmade cheeses I’ve tried that were just kind of meh, and how many widely available cheeses I’ve tried that really rocked.
I know, it seems wrong, but I must speak the truth.
Comox Brie comes from Courtenay on Vancouver Island and is made by Natural Pastures cheese company, a family-owned affair.
The Smith family makes only artisan cheeses, all hand-made under the guidance of their very own Swiss Master
Cheesemaker Paul Sutter, originally from Switzerland where he received traditional Swiss training and professional accreditation.
The Smith family turned to cheese making in 2001 and have made a big splash on the cheese world winning 40-plus national and international awards.
This company sources all the milk from family farms in the Comox Valley. They use Holstein milk as well as Ayrshire milk in the production of Comox Brie. Thus the “terroir” of the coastal valley environment is evident in this cheese, since all its milk came from a single area.
Natural Pastures Comox Brie earned the World Championship Gold Medal (WCC) in 2008, a first for a Vancouver Island produced cheese — in fact, the first WCC gold medal Brie ever from western Canada.
I’ve actually had a hard time reviewing Comox Brie, chiefly because everyone in my family kept eating it before I was ready to sample it. My small wedge is a typical white looking brie-penicillium mould on the outside (yup, the white stuff is mould, deal with it) and creamy buttery interior. I’ve wisely chosen to taste this one right before the best before date, when the brie is perfect. You can tell a brie is ready if it’s gooey inside — if it’s kind of dry and chalky, you have a young brie so put it back. This Comox Brie is gorgeous looking, so creamy and succulent, it smells faintly of ammonia and mushrooms.
Now this is a great brie. Like, really, really great. It’s perfectly ripened, it’s gooey all the way through — that’s what you want! It’s cleaving to my teeth and tongue. It’s salty and creamy.
This is the way I always want brie to be but it rarely is — it’s absolutely divine. Yes, this is a Gold Medal winner all the way. Scrumptious. Go and get yourself some of this, stat. Let it ripen up until the best before date, and go for it. You’ll thank me.
You can find Natural Pastures Cheeses at grocery and specialty food stores. More information at naturalpastures.com.
Food columnist Willow Yamauchi tried 100 cheeses over the course of 100 days and lived to write about it. Follow more of her cheesy exploits at myblogofcheese.wordpress.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or twitter.com/willow72." TARGET="_blank">twitter.com/willow72.