Monthly Archives: April 2009

Brie: Creamy, Unpasteurized, Illegal




Although easily the most talked-about cheese in the United States, real Brie, unpasteurized, creamy, and oozing, does not exist in the land of the Puritans. This raw cow’s milk beauty only gets as far as a contraband suitcase passing through American customs can carry it.

In 2004, the United States government passed a law stating that any cheese aged under 60 days imported to or sold in this country must be made with pasteurized milk. More about this law another day. Suffice it to say that Brie, who in its natural state is unpasteurized and aged under five weeks, rarely makes it into our borders and is never sold in our cheese markets unless it has been passed under the counter in a loving, black-market gesture.

So what is that soft stuff bearing the Brie label? For the most part, an impostor, often delicious, but an impostor nonetheless. 



According to the AOC regional appellation laws of France, Brie also has to come from the region formally named Brie, now called Seine-et-Marne. Anything not from this region is not technically Brie. It is rather a cheese, made in a bloomy-rind, soft-ripened style, like the big “B.” But it will never be Brie, no matter how often the package claims the title.

Furthermore, claim cheese purists while shrugging their shoulders in a nonchalant French fashion, even the cheeses that the French government allow to exit France with a “B” stamp are not real Brie. Their milk has been pasteurized and the complexity, the texture, the specialness, well, it’s all gone. It’s just something that the citizens of France make, ship, sell than have nothing else to do with themselves. They prefer the raw, oozing variety.


So what can we do to taste real Brie?

1. Illegal, naughty cheese importing things

2. Eat in France

3. Wait until it is no longer illegal. Like thirty years to never.


In the meantime, I’ve found myself charmed by the mushroomy Brie de Meaux imported from France- the one that spreads on one’s plate even though it’s not the real deal. It, and more local versions of the bloomy-rind made by American cheese makers taste almost as good melted over toast topped with scrambled eggs and flank steak as the big “B” itself.


Next post: La Tur, the wonder 3-milk cheese


What do you do with your brie?

It’s not you, it’s brie….. a cheese blog




      Some of you may already know me from my wine pairing blog Others may be familiar with me from my rollerskating days, when I kept my four purple, glittery wheels and white boots cleaner than any other kid on the block. Then there are those who know me because they took a cheese or wine class I taught at the wine bar I manage, or read an article I wrote about town. One or two might have even stumbled upon this blog because they had cheese on the mind during a break-up. I’m sorry.
Any way you ended up here, welcome!
“It’s Not You, it’s Brie,” is a new blog that focuses on dairy magnificence. It will serve as a platform for fromage obsession and will explore cheese’s role in our everyday and ceremonial lives. On both this blog and Twitter, I’ll be sharing everything from news of an arrival of hard-to-find seasonal cheeses at Berkeley’s Cheeseboard to my first experience tasting a chevre truffle (I’ve heard you’re out there, come home to me). And, oh the recipes. I hope that in the future that “It’s Not You, it’s Brie” will become a highly consulted source for dairy-centered recipes- some which will be inspired by my professional cooking experience, and others provided by guest bloggers. Speaking of guest bloggers, there will be those a plenty- all with passionate and maybe even appropriate things to say about fermented milk. This blog will also shortly be the new base for the Home Creamery Event formerly on Finally, I’ll feature short cheese interviews with people who are just simply crazy about cheese, and movers and shakers in the wine and food world. 
To my Vin de la Table fans, I still have a candle-lit shrine devoted to you. I hope that you still love me too and will visit me here often. 
Thank you for visiting, happy cheesing, and remember that cheese is its own food group, just as important as grains, vegetables, olive oil and chocolate. If you’d like to read a little bit more about me, see the “about me” section, and please, please visit again soon.
On a final note, I will be teaching both a French cheese and wine pairing class and another focused on dessert wines at Solano Cellars in Albany, CA (bordering Berkeley) in May and June, respectively. If anyone is interested in going, or reading more about them, they can do so here: