Bruce's Blog

a handful of dimes and a jukebox

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” — Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Brillat Savarin

Viewers of the original Iron Chef, now known as Iron Chef Japan, will recognize the quote by Brillat-Savarin, though I suspect few have read his book The Physiology of Taste Or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy. An interesting side note about the book is that the English version was translated from the original French by the inimitable M.F.K. Fisher, who was one of the great food writers of all time.  People familiar with Powell Library at UCLA might be surprised to learn that  Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher was lifelong friends with “Larry” Powell.

So why all this history?  Because today’s Cheese of the Week is named after Brillat-Savarin.  Brillat-Savarin is produced in the Burgundy and Normandy areas of France.  It’s a triple-cream Brie, which sounds rather like a cheese frappe (a milkshake for non-New Englanders).  A triple-cream cheese is one which contains more than 75% butterfat in its dry matter, that is, roughly 40% fat overall. In other words, this stuff isn’t exactly diet food unless your plan is to gain weight. But still, how often to you have a nice piece of Brillat-Savarin served to you?

I showed my Cheese of the Week blog to LA’s venerated (and Pulitzer prize-winning) food author Jonathan Gold. He suggested that limiting myself to Whole Foods was…well, limiting. 🙂 I asked him for some recommendations and he said, “Artisan Cheese Gallery, Cheese Store of Pasadena, Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, Andrew’s Cheese Shop, and Cheese Store of Silver Lake are all first rate. Say Cheese, Nicole’s and Monsieur Marcel have some good stuff.”

Since I actually live a 10 minute walk from Monsieur Marcel and my wife and I were actually at the Grove to see “The Artist” (doesn’t live up to the hype, IMHO), I decided to sally forth to their place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some cheesy comestibles!

Speaking of Mr. Gold, I just came across his review of “The Olive Garden“, of all places.  Not at all Mr. Gold’s normal millieu.    Turns out that he was trying to prank the LA Weekly’s amazing food photographer Anne Fishbein, telling her to meet him there, but all the while planning to take her some place else for lunch. But he was late and ended up having to endure a bit of what much of America actually *likes*. Oh, the horror of it!  Anyway, if you are reading this Mr. Gold, sorry to dredge up a memory that you probably hoped to eradicate.  But the article is hilarious.

Hmmm, better start talking about cheese pretty soon here before this post turns into Clarissa.

Brillat-Savarin is a delightful cheese.  My cat is looking at me with a “What can I do to him to get a bite of that cheese?” look as my wife and I are trying it.  My wife has just said for the 3rd time, “Wow…it’s really good!”.    Oh wait, she actually just gave a small bit to the cat. Anna (my kitty) also approves!

This is an incredibly clean cheese, no unpleasant after taste at all.  When you place it in your mouth, there’s a pleasant bit of sourness on the tongue.  It’s incredibly luscious and creamy.   This is a very, very nice cheese.  It’d be lovely for a special occasion with some champagne.  But it is pretty nice on a casual Saturday afternoon with some PG Tips as well.

The Brillat-Savarin is $29.99 at Monsieur Marcel’s.  Very recommended!


Categories: Cheese of the Week

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