Under normal circumstances, I am suspicious of food items that purport to be created to be "paired with" another food item. Having worked for an advertising agency (and being a fan of "Mad Men"), I know this is a marketing gimmick. It works, though.
These chive crackers (green, yet!) grabbed my attention a few weeks ago at Fromagination on Madison's capital square. "For Brie cheese," said the box. (Really. Boxes talk to me all the time.)
"Hmm...just right for one of our finger-food nights," I thought as I nabbed a pack and tucked it into my chock-full-of-cheese basket.
Brie is one of those acquired tastes for me. It was not part of my diet growing up, and even when I went off to college, Camembert on a baguette slice was the cocktail party food of choice.
I could not get into Brie. Maybe there is a reason for that.
My father's maternal line, as far as I can determine, came from Melun, a city south of Paris that is know for its Brie cheese. The family name in the U.S. is LaBrie, which is one of those "dit" names that started out as something else, but got changed upon arrival in the New World, or perhaps soon after.
Family history records are not very extensive on my father's side, but it looks like the orginal name was Migneault or or some variation thereof, and became LaBrie somewhere on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps the orginal immigrant was a cheesemaker who acquired a nickname. Or perhaps, he was not a cheesemaker. Maybe he acquired a nickname that referred to his geographic roots, not his occupation - as in cheesehead.
Whatever. It's a lovely name, and I like the fact that it is feminine, although Brie is actually masculine. Brie is a feminine cheese, if you ask me, mild, earthy and comforting.
I know this now. But perhaps I once had a genetic loathing for something my ancestors grew tired of...
Now I have an appreciation for Brie, especially when paired with something sweet. The chive crackers were perfect, but I thought it needed something more. So I scrounged around in the pantry and found a jar of Bonne Mamam chestnut spread. I plopped a dollop of that atop the schmear of Brie that sat atop the chive cracker.
I was a little nervous as I slipped it into my mouth. But, oh, the taste! If France can be reduced into a cracker with two toppings, this was it! I was immediately transported back to Montcuq and its chestnut trees. Or Paris.
Merde! This is good, I told my husband.
And he agreed.
I'll be featuring a favorite recipe using Brie in a day or two. Do you like it? How do you eat it?