Friday, 20 February 2009

Camembert and Prince de Prieur

Camembert is decidedly moreish simply with some fresh crusty French bread and a decent glass of red wine. You don't have to break the bank to find a good wine to go with Camembert but you do have to know where to look. Prince de Prieur (£3.18) is a soft, supple wine which makes a nonsense of many ‘cheap’ supermarket own-label quaffing wines. If this wine was from any other region or country it would come with a higher Classification other than a table wine. It has a very pronounced nose with lots of good ripe fruit and is ideal for light suppers, warm salads and soft cheeses.

Camembert takes its name from a small village in Normandy in the fertile area known as the Pays d'Auge, near the river Viette and was reputedly invented in 1791 by Marie Harel, a farmer's wife. She was given the secret of its recipe by Abbe Charles-Jean Bonvoust, a priest from Brie who sought refuge at Harel’s Beaumoncel farm during the French Revolution. There is a statue to honour her in the village of Camembert. However, it’s likely the cheese was crafted long before Harel was even born. Writings confirm the Normandy region was acclaimed for its cheeses since the 1500s.

One of her descendants, Thomas Paynel, offered Napoleon III in 1863 and offered him one of his cheeses. Napoleon III was so delighted with the taste of the cheese that he made Thomas Paynel the official furnisher of Camembert to the French Emperor. In 1890, engineer M. Ridel invented the now famous round wooden box and Camembert was exported throughout the world.

Camembert was famously issued to French troops during the First World War, becoming firmly fixed in French popular culture as a result. The artist Salvador Dali was also inspired by Camembert and painted his famous work “The Persistence of Memory” after eating soft, runny Camembert on a hot summer's day.

Camembert is also delicious deep fried or baked within its box.

Deep Fried Camembert

1 whole Camembert
1 egg
dash of milk
salt & pepper
parsley, chopped
breadcrumbs

Cut the Camembert into 6 segments. (In this case it is better if the Camembert is fresh and fairly solid rather than runny.) Prepare a batter using the egg, milk, salt, pepper and parsley.
Take each segment and using some plain white flour, coat them evenly over its entire surface. Place each of the segments in to the egg batter making sure they are fully covered. Then dip in to the breadcrumbs. In order to stop the breadcrumb coating from breaking during frying give them another dip in the batter and then repeat the breadcrumb coating. Fry then for about 2-3minutes in a hot deep fat fryer or a frying pan. Serve with raspberry or cranberry sauce and a parsley garnish

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