It all happened a few months ago.
Saturday night dinner was a buffet of everything I could find in the fridge, making up a table of goodies including a whole baked Camembert from Aldi.
My daughter’s been ‘baked camembert mad’ for a few years. I remarked on how this one was a tad salty and wondered if there was much difference in the different supermarket varieties.
Hence the Camembert party was born – for a week we gathered 12 different Camembert’s. Snuck them in my catering fridge, nearly fainted from the pong every time we opened the door!
And on Tuesday 20thAugust we held an evening of tastings, ten of us made up the panel. On the day, I decided to drive to Lowestoft, I’d had ‘Penny Bun’ bakery bread but fancied it for the cheese tasting – it is simply divine. Plus, I whipped back via the last 2 supermarkets to grab the last 3 Camembert’s.
The Co-op only offered a mini 150g basic version so we left that off the final tasting.
I loaded up two trays, 6 in each, of 250g plump round white cheeses. Four in to pottery dishes as they came with no wooden crate, while one came with its own pottery dish. Scored o’s & x’s in the top, studded with a sliver of garlic, drizzled with Puglia olive oil, pocked in a twig of rosemary and twisted black pepper on top.
They looked stunning – –
Twenty minutes of baking in a pre-heated oven – a quick emergency maneuverer as 2 wooden trays came apart (not good!) then 5 minutes to rest.
We labelled them up from 1 – 12 with the supermarket and name if applicable (most were called just French Camembert!)
And they were good to go –
Bake in a pre-heated oven gas mark 5 / 200*c for 20 minutes or until soft and runny in the middle.
I must admit I did imagine a lot more variance in flavours but they were all very much of a muchness. But with 12 to taste – – it was a hard task to tell the difference as each one blended in to the other BUT
When I went back for a last judging dip, they had cooled down, meaning they set a little making them far easier to taste test.
So here are the results from best to not quite as good – – !
- 1st Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Brittany– £2.50 (310c per 100g) Strength 4 – – – It probably cooked up the firmest of all the C’s, but its smooth taste with a tangy note won most of us over, despite its lack of ooziness. I’d recommend baking for an additional 5 – 8 minutes.
- 2nd Waitrose, Le Rustique Normandy– £2 (£2.15 in Sainsbury’s) (268c per 100g) Good strong baking crate with a chequered red and white sheet underneath, keeping it all neatly inside, nice goo-factor with a lovely smooth consistency, tangy stronger rich taste yet a tad salty. But when tasted against all the others it shone that bit brighter.
- 3rd Sainsbury’s Goats Milk Taste the Difference, £3 (280c per 100g) Strength 4 – – – Set in its own wooden crate which came apart during cooking (not good!) This allergy alternative was firm in texture and delicious in taste. A popular favourite with all my tasters, except one who wasn’t a goat’s cheese fan. I don’t think it’s as strong as other goats cheese, and has a good medium ooziness to it but on the firmer side of dip-able. Not as creamy in taste as the other camembert’s – but a good tasty alternative if needed.
- 4th Marks and Spencer’sNormandy. £2.90 (191c) Another crate breaker (not good!). This was probably the pongiest of all the cheeses to store. A creamy, good flavoured runny cheese. It won points as an all-rounder.
- 5th Morrison’s BasicFrench £1.60 (291c) Strength 2 – – – No wooden crate. A good goo-factor with the perfect runny cheese. A good taste but a tad on the mild side with a little salty note. The creaminess kicked this cheese up the score (cheesy) board.
- 6th Sainsbury’s BasicFrench £1.50 (281c). Strength 4 – – – No wooden crate. A smooth very runny cheese, with a light flavour. 100% on runniness.
- 7th Lidl, Chene d’Argent95p A little salty with a better flavour than Aldi’s, if we were comparing! Mixed reviews over flavours – some say tasteless, some say a mild pleasant flavour. It melted to a medium runniness so good to spread and dip. I think it’s a good all-rounder and a steal on price (cheapest). Plus, you get the wooden crate to cook it in.
- 8th Tesco, 100% English Milk Camembert £1.40 (279c) No crate. The only supermarket British Camembert made with UK cow’s milk. Very firm in texture could do with another 7 – 10 minutes of baking. Not creamy, more of a chunky texture but a nice mild flavour profile. More of a knife spreading job than a dipping cheese.
- 9th Waitrose BakingCamembert in its own black pottery dish £3.70. The most expensive of all the cheeses and nowhere near the top, simply not liked by a few. Medium flavoured with a creamy white texture which was neither runny nor firm. But on the other hand, you get to keep the dish, or look at it as you paid £1.50 for the dish and £2.20 for the cheese.
- 10th Asda Extra Special De Pays£2.20 (310c) From rural Brittany. No wooden crate. A firm almost lumpy bake. Some described as bland, but with a mild salty flavour. I was intrigued because it has the same calories as our winner, so I assumed it could be from the same dairy / factory but it did have a totally different flavour profiles.
- 11th Asda BasicFrench £1.15 (284c) No wooden crate. Tangy, but a tad bland and quite firm, especially compared to the other basic ranges which seemed to ooze more.
- 12th Aldi, Emporium99p (265c) No wooden crate. A little creamy, not so much bland as it actually has a good tang but its saltiness, medium consistency and base flavour fell short of all the other ‘berts’.
Hold the front page – – we have a late comer, we whacked the mini Co-opCamembert £1.15, for a 125g, but no wooden crate, one portion ‘baked bert’ (295c) (equivalent to £2.30 for a 250g) – in the oven for 15 minutes. A slightly salty mild flavour but by far the smoothest and runniest. But a nice runny, the sort of runny that coats cherry tomatoes & new potatoes. I’d probably score it in the middle somewhere. Unfortunately, you have to go to the larger Co-ops to get the ‘Du Val de Scorff’ (is that a name?!?!)
But I’ll let you know when I SCOrFF that one – – –
I like the mini sizes – they work out more expensive per gram but they are the perfect size for one – an indulgent but ridiculously easy ‘dining Solo diner’ all you need is crusty bread and you’re in heaven.
Around 450 calories per generous portion plus 100-150c per slice of crusty – – better than a pizza at 1000c but still half a ladies of a certain age calories intake for a day (Me basically).
So, if you’re after the dippiest, strongest well flavouredCamembert with a wooden crate for ease, that won’t break in the oven – go for theLeRustique (2nd) from Waitrose or Sainsbury’s. For around £2 it’s a good all-rounder and my personal favourite.
If you want Englishgo for Tesco’s (8th) at only £1.40 and I would say a good edition for a cheese board.
For a runny little numbergo for the Basic Camembert from Morrison’s or Sainsbury’s (5th& 6th) – perfect for dipping anything with maximum goo-iness.
or if a bit of tangis in order go for the lovely and popular Sainsbury’s Goats Cheese which melts nearly as good as a runny Camembert – plus good for the ole Cow’s milk Dairy Allergy’s.
Anyway – all this may just be a load of old cheese because as I said originally, they are all very much a muchness and to be honest it all tastes like Camembert and there really isn’t much in it.
Well the supermarket ones anyway – – –
So, if you like Camembert grab a Camembert – I might just be slightly more influenced now to grab a better tasting one and certainly more likely to try other varieties.
So – – Fancy Camembert out – – – heres a few places locally where you can get that scrumptious gooey cheese.
Les Garrigues – the place to go for magnificent French Cheese af the highest order. Baked C with a trio of chutneys for £8.95 or get this!!! Baked C, flambeed at the table in Calvados with sautéed potatoes and chutney £11.95 Phooor!
The Rosebery – Camemburger (yes, I said Camemberger) £9.99 will get you a wedge of breaded deep fried ‘Bert’ served in a Brioche Bun, with red onion jam and hand-cut chips. Or try Camembert tapas style at their sister pub The Golden Star, baked with red onion jam and bread for £8.95.
Mr Postles’ Apothecary do a Baked C with toasted sour dough for £6.95.
The Wallow offer Baked Bertie too – – just awaiting info from them and a few others – – More to Camembert !
by Zena Leech-Calton ©
I’m sure the FRENCH super artisan varieties are another blog all together. But please don’t tell my daughter – I’m really Cam-em-berted out!!!
It’s all about the food – – – in this case French Camembert