On Brillat-Savarin, The Cheese Perfect For Decadent Summer Nights

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by Ashley Linkletter | Of all cheeses to write about, fresh Brillat-Savarin is perhaps the most befitting a short tome. Named after French epicurean and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, who was especially enamoured with cheese and wrote that “a dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye…” a vivid (if hyperbolic) simile that places him in the annals of cheese history. Upon its invention in the 1890s, the cheese went by the names “Excelsior” and “Délice des gourmets” until the 1930s when it was renamed in honour of Brillat-Savarin. It’s now made year-round in Normandy and Burgundy and is available in small wheels as fresh, ripened, or layered with French truffles.

Fresh Brillat-Savarin is essentially a pasteurized triple cream brie that hasn’t been inoculated with a rind, leaving nothing but uninterrupted dense richness in its absence. The cheese itself looks and feels like stark white wet clay, keeping its shape but easily yielding to the slight pressure of a knife. Because there is no bloomy rind, fresh Brillat-Savarin is a saviour for pregnant women or those who are immuno-compromised and seeking the satisfaction of a creamy cheese. Like most triple cream bries, the almost whipped cream-like texture is cut by a lactic tanginess, giving the cheese an otherwise needed edge.

Fresh Brillat-Savarin is not unlike a singularly buttery cream cheese and can thus be used in its place as an accompaniment to smoked salmon, fresh berries and honey, or strewn with fresh herbs and applied with fervour to fresh bread. On the cheese plate, fresh Brillat-Savarin is a welcome addition to a summertime board and a delicious departure from trendy Burrata. Serve alongside other good summer patio cheeses; I like to pair it with something firm and fruity like Piave and maybe a small wedge of Wisconsin buttermilk blue cheese. Finish the board with seasonal fruit such as fresh figs or apricots and a few sprigs of fresh basil to really bring the look together. For a drink pairing, put fresh Brillat Savarin next to something light and bubbly on the tongue; a well-chilled bottle of Prosecco or dry sparkling rosé would make a fine August companion.

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