Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pierre Robert

I’ve never been a brie freak, probably because brie is the hummus of English departments, and I overloaded on it at mixers during grad school. So often brie is rubbery, flavorless – glue on toast. I almost never buy it unless I am hosting people I don’t know well, then I figure it will be a pleaser.

Today, however, I took a whole wheel of Pierre Robert, a French triple-crème, into my Fiction Workshop – an exceptionally good class this year. I felt it was time to induct these 15 students into the world of cheese now that they’re seniors. And, come on, eating brie is an English major’s rite of passage. I wanted them to sample the good stuff.

Pierre Robert was recommended to me by a local cheese maven, and her recommendation was spot on. I’ve been reading a lot about Brillat-Savarin lately (also a triple crème), which I’ll be serving this Saturday at my first public tasting. From everything I’ve read, Brillat-Savarin is body butter – rated #2 sexiest cheese in my Murray’s Cheese Handbook. So, I was curious to see how Pierre Robert compared.

Mmmm…it was decadent. Pierre Robert has the texture of a mousse, dense and yet light. The rind melted on my tongue – not the least bit rubbery. And the flavors were more potent than I’d imagined, grassy and peppery. I’m still a stink-bomb lover – the blues have it – but I will buy the Pierre Robert again, for picnics, for hot-night desserts. Bring on the champagne, or, as one artisanal cheese site recommended: Tequila Sunrises.

My students definitely passed the brie test. Honestly, I thought they’d find the mold off-putting, but they descended on this snow-white cake like a pack of writers, which is to say, like wolves! Even the box went out the door under one person’s arm. So, I guess there will have to be more cheese inductions for senior English majors. Maybe I’ll work up to a salty wedge of tongue-numbing Cabrales.

My mind is working on a list of cheese-and-writer pairings – hmm…what cheese would go well with Joyce Carol Oates?


  1. Well, as much as I enjoyed my semester of Fiction Workshop, I guess I got gypped out of a quality cheese education! Can one make the leap from a Cabot-fueled bachelor's degree directly to graduate-level cheese dabbling...?

    For what it's worth, I'm currently reading Oates' collection "Faithless: Tales of Transgression" and would pair it with a rich, strong gorgonzola - something nearly conflicted yet primitively at home with a sugary fruit or leafy salad.

  2. Beautiful! Oates and gorgonzola sound perfect -- conflicted and primitive, gorgeous. I'm only sorry you were shortchanged of a cheese education while at St. Joe's. You must come back for a brie baptism during an alumni weekend or something.

  3. If you want a real "stinker", you should try Stinking Bishop, made in Gloucester, U.K. This cows' milk cheese is washed in "Perry", fermented pear juice made from the Stinking Bishop pear. Voted stinkiest exported cheese from the U.K.

    Cheese Whiz
    Good For You Market
    Lewes, De.