Welcome back to CODY'S WORLD OF CHEESE, where our resident cheesemonger Cody Reiss explains what funky fromages you should definitely be eating.
If you’ve ever been to a dinner party (I haven’t) you’ve probably brought some cheese that you thought was prettttyyyy impressive (it wasn’t). According to informal polling I’ve been conducting over the last several decades, the cheese most-brought-to-dumb-ass-dinner-parties-that-I’m-not-invited-to is a dense, flavorless wedge of Trader Joe’s “double crème Brie.” It’s a good impulse—bloomy rind cheeses like Brie make excellent friend bribes. But next time you’re trying to smash some cheese, grab a bloomy rind worth your love, like this week’s oopy, gloopy, buttery blessing: Brillat Savarin.
Like Brie and Camembert, Brillat Savarin belongs to a family of cheeses called bloomy rinds. These cheeses are typically snow white on the outside, a pale yellow and creamy on the inside, with flavors ranging from mushroomy and earthy to sweet and buttery (in cheesemonger college, we called buttery flavors “lactic”—that is, when I wasn’t GETTING HIGH). Mold added to the milk eventually develops into a soft white rind as it ages, and begins to ripen the cheese from the outside in. You can see this process in action by looking at a cheese’s “cream line,” the gooey section you sometimes find underneath the rind. Like my mom’s lame-ass boyfriend, Jad, the longer they age, the softer they get.
Bloomy rinds are often described as a “double-crème” (like brie) or a “triple crème” (like St. Andre). But what even is that? It just means that these cheeses have had cream added to the milk by some twisted, sweaty-mouthed cheesemaker. The cream ups the amount of butterfat in the cheese’s overall dry matter: a double crème has between 60 and 75 percent butterfat, while a triple crème has around 75 percent. To put that in context, ACTUAL butter has 80 to 86 percent butterfat. As a result of the added cream, bloomy rinds come equipped with supreme spreadability and extremely high smash capacity.
Now that you have a general lay of the bloomy landscape, let me introduce you to the homie Brillat. Brillat Savarin is a French triple crème bloomy rind (you know what all this shit means now!) made from cow’s milk. The cheese is literally named after a professional food philosopher and legendary snarfer, so you know it has to be dank. You’re probably familiar with some of his famous quotes about food, from the profound (“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are”), to the confounding (“A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye”). Well, keep those eyes in your face, ma’am, because boy, do I have a cheese for you.
If the philosopher was anything like his eponymous cheese, he was a fat, gooey, cream-pond of a human who melts on your tongue like a… actually, let’s just talk about the cheese. Brillat Savarin straight up looks like a poorly frosted birthday cake melting in the sun (shout out to my fifth birthday, I love you, mom) The rind is so fluffy that even the lightest touch leaves fingerprints, and boy, does it feel squishy. If you slice it open and let it come to room temperature, you can watch the texture of the insides turn from cream cheese to soft butter to a full-on puddle, seeping out of its fuzzy rind like the incredible Alex Mack oozing through a doorway. I’m going to be real with you, dude: This cheese tastes like salty fucking butter clouds, alighting on your tongue from on high. Upon mouthal entry, it just melts. Puddle Town, USA. It’s like God cried salty milk tears from heaven and was gracious enough to let them fall into your unworthy mouth.
Go ahead—treat this little cream cannon like butter. Slather it onto fresh radishes or slide it into your omelet. Smear it on your ham sandwich, sneak a nug in between your pancakes, or keep a small glob in between your gums and upper lip when you’re playing some ball. Make yourself a cheese sundae, letting candied walnuts, shaved chocolate, and Luxardo cherries rain from the sky onto your ample butt cheeks. On a sad day at work, you might find me tucking soft spoonfuls into thin slices of garlicky mortadella (a.k.a. bourgeois bologna) and ladling them directly into my quavering snack castle. Classic drink pairing here is going to be the bubbly wubbly, the effervescence, a.k.a. dirty baby water. I’m talking of course about the izzle wizzle sunshine syrup. Yes, a nice Champagne deftly cuts through Brillat Savarin’s rich silkiness. If you’re on a beer-only diet, bring in the effervescence and acidity by reaching for a lambic or a sour.
Once you’ve smashed nine wheels of Brillat, you might try experimenting with a keto diet, intermittent fasting, and maybe some self-reflection. When you’re ready to dive face-first back into the cheese, reach for some other cream babies in the bloomy rind family. Want something pudgy and stanky? Try Moses Sleeper, an American Brie-style cheese that tastes like cream of cauliflower soup and shiitake mushrooms. Want something less creamy than Brillat, but still buttery and sweet? It’s a double crème for you, and the classic Fromage d’Affinois will do you good. If you’re looking to take a deeper dive into triple crèmes, grab Cremoux de Bourgogne, which is less salty and tastes like butter ice cream, or one of the many wonderful American models like Mt. Tam, Green Hill, or St. Stephen.
TL;DR: The cheese is dank.
Cody Reiss is a comedian, cook, and cheesemonger at Murray’s Cheese in New York City. He has made cheeses at home and on farms in Brazil and New York, and has traveled to more than 35 different countries, sampling over 350 different cheeses along the way. You can follow him on Instagram at @realdankfood.