Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What is the difference between Brie and Camembert?

We get this question a lot at Dussa’s Ham and Cheese.  And what is our answer?

About a two hour drive!

Seriously, there is not that much of a difference between these two delicious French cheeses.  Brie, having a history that dates back to the 8th century, is traditionally made just south of Paris, where the cattle graze on stony river beds.  Camembert is a relatively new cheese however, dating to about the 1800’s.  Its traditional home is Normandy, where cattle graze on lush green pastures. Both cheeses in their authentic form are made from unpasteurized milk, and are manufactured in pretty much the same way. The only difference is the bacteria used in each cheese:  Penicillium Camemberti is used in Camembert, where as Brevibactirium is used in Brie.  The difference in flavours between the two cheeses, aside from the slight variation in the milk due to the different diets of the dairy cows used, is down to the difference sizes of the cheeses.  Brie is usually made into a large flat wheel, weighing up to 3 kilograms.  Camembert, on the other hand, is made into small high cylinders, usually not weighing more than 250-300 grams, although it can be found to weigh up to 1 kilo.  Because of Camembert’s shape and size, it tends to age faster and lose more moisture, therefore rendering a stronger cheese with a thicker paté. Traditionally made Brie is said to have a smoother, creamier flavour, compared to Camembert, which tends to have a nuttier, sweeter taste.

All that said, these comparisons can only apply to AOC designated Brie and Camembert.  Most Brie and Camembert found in North America are not AOC designated, and usually factory produced. They are made of pasteurized milk for the most part, and aged to please the North American palate. Often times, no difference can be found in flavour or appearance between a non AOC designated Brie and a non AOC designated Camembert.  There are only two AOC designated Bries- Brie du Meaux and Brie de Melun (which is not exported). As for Camembert, only raw milk Camembert produced in Normandy can have the AOC designation.  Always look for the AOC stamp on the label if you are looking for traditional Brie and Camembert.

When trying to find the perfect Brie or Camembert, go by sight, touch, and smell.  The rind should not be pristine white, as that indicates the cheese is too fresh. It should, however, have a downy rind and even sometimes have little red dots.  The paté should be a nice straw colour.  The cheese itself should not have a runny interior, but should “bulge” or flow minimally.  If you squeeze the fleshy area very gently between your index finger and thumb, the cheese should yield to the touch like bread dough.  Non-traditionally produced Brie and Camembert are the opposite: you may want to look for a bright pristine white rind and gooey white paté.  No matter what style of Brie or Camembert you have, you never want the rind to break away from the paté, nor do you want the cheese to smell of ammonia- both are indications that the cheese is over-ripe.

Both Brie and Camembert are amazing cheeses.  Whether you go for the stronger unpasteurized versions or the milder, creamier North American styles, you are always going to end up with a fantastic cheese that pleases most everyone whom you are entertaining.

check out www.thenibble.com for more info

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Forward with Swiss Cheese

When ever one thinks of Swiss Cheese, usually a holey Emmental comes to mind.  Or melted fondue parties in front of the fire.  Or warm Swiss Raclette after a long days skiing.  As soon as the weather starts to warm up, authentic Swiss cheese tends to fall out of everyone's mind.

Dussa's wants to change that.  Dussa's wants to remind Canadians that authentic Swiss cheese is not just for winter.  Try grating Appenzellar over a leafy green salad, or thinly sliced next to fresh summer fruits.  Little petals of Tete Du Moine are divine with a dab of jam and toast.  And there is nothing in the world like a thick slice of Swiss Raclette on a juicy burger.

Come to Dussa's Ham and Cheese this Easter Weekend and re-introduce yourself to authentic Swiss cheese.  All cheese imported from Switzerland as well as DarVida crackers are %10 for the entire weekend. 

Also, if you purchase a piece of authentic Swiss cheese, you are eligible to enter to win a Girolle, a fondue set, or a Swiss Raclette Grill.

So come visit us at Dussa's Ham and Cheese, and spring forward with Swiss cheese!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sensuously Delicious

Cheese is one of the most sensual foods on Earth.  Eating a good cheese is an experience.  One must take time to fully appreciate how it looks, how it smells, its taste, and the way its texture unfolds on the tongue.  It is no wonder, then, that many claim cheese to be an aphrodisiac.  In fact, some experts say that “cheese contains ten times as much phenylethylamine as chocolate” (http://www.eatsomethingsexy.com/wordpress/aphrodisiac-foods/cheese/). Oh my!

If you are planning a romantic meal this weekend, be sure to have some cheese.  Let the staff at Dussa’s help you pick out something sensuously delicious.  Take advantage of our winter specials (like a French brie, or a raw milk triple cream from Quebec), or be adventurous and try something new and different.

For a more family oriented Valentine’s celebration, try making pizza with our all natural pizza shells, or pop some of our famous cheese puffs in the oven.  Both are guaranteed to warm bellies and hearts.

So whether you’re are planning a romantic meal for two, a night in with the family, or even a quiet night on your own, consider adding a little cheese.  Nothing says “I love you” like a beautiful piece of cheese.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Vancouver Christmas Market

Did someone say Raclette?

So we're just about to start our second weekend at the Vancouver Christmas Market.  It was a shakey start for us at first.  Just as we were heading down to load our little booth with our stock, the radio blared out that there was a propane explostion at the Market, just 20 minutes before it was set to officially open.  Luckily no one was hurt, but our little booth was one of the two that needed to be replaced.  So, while the Vancouver Christmas Market officially opened the Sunday after the explosion, Dussa's Swiss Raclette did not open until Monday November 29th.

Its been just amazing at the Market.  We are overwhelmed by the response for our Raclette. Its been wonderful meeting new customers, getting to chat with everyone, even hearing stories about the old shop down on Main street.  But what amazes us the most is, no matter how crazy the market it, no matter how long the line, everyone is in a cheery mood.  I guess thats the magic of melted cheese!

So we encourage everyone to come down and visit.  We're serving little cheese puffs, hot out of the oven, traditional German Lachsbroetchn (a mini lox and cream cheese sandwich that is oh so satisfying), and of course our specialty, Swiss Raclette. 

What is Swiss Raclette you ask?  Swiss Raclette is a round hard cheese made from unpasturized milk and aged for 3-4 months.  The brand that Dussa's uses is called Von Muelenen, or Snowman Brand, one of the only raclettes with the AOC distinction.  We cut the 7 kg wheel and place it in a special Raclette grill.  There, the top layed is melted until it is bubbly and a little golden brown.  Then the cheese in removed from the grill, and, using the back of the knife, we scrape the melted cheese onto a fresh slice of ciabatta bread.  Heaven on a plate.

We look forward to seeing everyone down at the Vancouver Christmas Market.  Be sure to come to our little booth and say hello!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's hard to say goodbye

We are like a family here at Dussa's Ham and Cheese.  Although we come from different walks of life, different culters and backgrounds, different ages, we all care about each other very much.  So it was with heavy hearts that the staff at Dussa's said goodbye to our co-worker and good friend, Owen Taylor.

Owen was a great guy, very down to earth and easy to work with.  He knew so much about cheese- he was an expert on Roquefort, so much so you would think he was from there.  And he was a favourite amungst our lady customers of a certain age, always polite and informative.  But he also made the work atmostphere great.  Owen would make a long Saturday go by quickly, creating the weekend soundtrack with his ipod, giving insite on the most obscure films, or telling us stories about is beloved cat.  Everyone always looked forward to coming to work when we knew Owen would be there.

The gang at Dussa's miss Owen very much.  We send our love and support to all his family and friends

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vacherin Mont D'or - A Swiss Delicacy

It just wouldn’t be the holidays at Dussa’s Ham and Cheese with out the famous seasonal cheese, Vacherin Mont D’or.

Vacherin Mont D’or is a surface ripened, wash rind cheese made from the winter milk of the cows that have been brought down from their summer pastures.  It is said that because the cows no longer produced enough milk to make Emmental and Gruyere, farmers decided to make a smaller, younger cheese- Vacherin Mont D’or.  Another legend states that the tradition of Vacherin actually came from the making of Chevrotin, a goat’s cheese. When there was a shortage of goat’s milk to make the Chevrotin, farmers simply turned to using cow’s milk, thus Vacherin Mont D’or was born. 

Vacherin Mont D’or is made both in Switzerland and France.  Both countries fought over the rights of the origin of the cheese, but the right to legally call it “Vacherin Mont D’or” was won by Switzerland in 1981.  The same cheese made in France is officially called “Vacherin Haut-Doubs”, but unofficially is also called Vacherin Mont D’or.  Both countries use the same methods to produce this delectable cheese; however the Swiss version is often made from pasteurized milk in order to please the North American market.  The Swiss version of Vacherin Mont D’or does have the AOC designation, meaning that it is made under the strictest of requirements that govern how the cheese is made, processed, and handled.  The cheese can only be made in one region of Switzerland- the Canton de Vaud.

Vacherin Mont D’or is only available in Switzerland from mid September to early March.  There is even a Vacherin Mont D’or Festival, which includes traditional Swiss foods and entertainment, and even a parade of the herds being brought down from their summer pastures.  In Canada, Vacherin Mont D’or is usually only available during the months of November, December, and sometimes January.  Recently, imported Vacherin Mont D’or has been made from unpasteurized milk. Because of this, the Canadian government requires the cheese to be put in quarantine, and tested to make sure it has no unwanted bacteria.  Unfortunately, Vacherin Mont D’or has a relatively short shelf life, and so quantities that actually make it to store shelves are always very limited.

Upon first glance, Vacherin Mont D’or is actually quite an ugly cheese.  It’s topped with an orange rind that sits on the cheese like an ugly mould.  Often this rind is covered by a thin powdery white mould, similar to the beginnings of the surface mould found on Brie or Camembert.  And while this rind may not be aesthetically pleasing, it’s what’s underneath that is truely a thing of beauty.  Below the inedible rind is a gooey rich golden yellow pate that needs to be scooped up with a spoon.  Even at room temperature (Vacherin Mont D'or should never be eaten cold), this cheese is almost liquid and cannot be cut.  Often, Vacherin Mont D’or is put in the oven, and eaten the same way one eats fondue, by dipping the bread straight into the cheese.  Vacherin Mont D’or is wrapped with a thin piece of Spruce bark, giving the cheese a subtly astringent, foresty flavour that makes Vacherin Mont D’or unique from anything else.

Vacherin makes the perfect gift, and is always a party pleaser.  You are now able to pre-purchase this amazing cheese at Dussa’s Ham and Cheese on Granville Island.  Come down any time and talk to one of our staff.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Le Marechal

When it comes to cheese, Le Marechal is the new kid on the block.  In the early 90's, cheese maker Jean-Michel Rapin created a cheese that was meant to be different from Swiss Gruyere.  He named if after is grandfather, who was a blacksmith, because it shared his "original and robust character".

Le Marechal is a raw milk Swiss cheese that shares the nutty flavour of typical Swiss made cheeses.  But unlike Swiss Gruyere and Appenzellar, La Marechal has a melt in your mouth texture and a simple yet rustic flavour.  The rind is rubbed with herbs as the cheese ages, giving it a subtley spicey, almost floral taste.  Not only is Le Marechal delicious, but its incredibly healthy too- the cows are fed flaxseed flour, making their milk rich in Omega-3.

Le Marechal is an amazing table cheese, and does really well in cheese sauces.  Serve it with figs or fig spread, olives, and a good dry white wine.

Le Marechal is 10% off, while supplies last.