Produced in the region of Brie, located just to the east of Paris, the first records of Brie de Meaux date back to Roman times and there is no doubt that it has been consistently popular for at least 400 years.
Brie de Meaux's widespread appeal and reputation were undoubtedly helped by its proximity to Paris. During the 19th century it was considered by many to be the finest cheese in Europe, largely thanks to the French statesman Talleyrand, who introduced it at a diplomats' dinner.
Production can be either industrial or artisanal, and the process involves very gentle handling of the curd to allow for the maximum retention of moisture within the curd. Cheeses are allowed to drain under their own weight, and surface moisture rapidly evaporates due to the large flat shape of the cheeses.
Granted AOC (name protected) status in 1980, maturation or affinage must take place within specified regions of Seine-et-Marne, Loiret, Aube, Marne, Haut-Marne, Meuse and Yonne. The geographical separation between the places of production and maturation is a Brie tradition.
When ripe, the rind of Brie de Meaux should be covered with a white bloomy rind, a result of the action of the Penicilium Candidum mold. With age, the white mold frequently becomes dotted with patches of red or brown. At the time of consumption, at least half the thickness of the cheese should be ripe, soft and yielding with an interior color of straw.
The aromas of Brie de Meaux are milky and rich - reflecting the high quality milk used during production. Flavors are sweet and buttery with notes of mushrooms or truffles and almonds.