I felt like a tweenaged girl ripping open a gift-wrapped Justin Bieber anything.
My hands couldn’t move fast enough to tear the wrapper off my the hockey puck-sized disc of homemade Brie cheese that had been ripening in my fridge. I had been waiting weeks to do this. Five weeks to be exact. Five weeks since standing in the Niagara Falls kitchen of strangers, surrounded by strangers but all of us united in our curiosity and quest to engage in one of the ultimate culinary coups: cheesemaking.
Turn back the clock to that late November day and that cheesy round was but curd in a perforated cup, draining and forming and firming up with every drop of whey it oozed. I gave it a salt rub a few days later when the curd was relatively dry. Daily delicate flipping of my baby Brie ensued to get it to ripen and mature to perfection.
I delighted when I saw white downy fuzz form on its edges a week later. I lovingly wrapped it in a pearly white, waxy square of paper, trying hard to ensure I had perfect pleats as I folded the crinkling, smooth sheet around my cheese, just like the pros do it with those curdled, creamy wheels I’ve bought so often at my favourite shops.
Then, I tucked it away in a drawer in my fridge, waiting impatiently for the day when, in cheese years, it would be edible.
I decided yesterday was that day and so I reverted to my childlike ways, relishing the sound of wrapping paper ripping and the most beautiful round of Brie being revealed. It’s rind was velvety white, with hints of its yellowish smooth cream centre showing through.
I broke out the cheese knife and cut through the soft textured skin to an even mellower inside. It wasn’t runny. I didn’t need a cracker just to hoist its liquidy contents to my mouth while keeping another crisp nearby just to dam to the luxurious molten middle of my slice.
Instead, the insides were like fresh chevre, white, crumbly and stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth thick. It was delicious. Salty with a gentle tang.
It might not have won any cheese connoisseur’s heart, but like a parent who can see no fault in their progeny, it was perfect in my eyes and to my tastebuds.
Beautiful. Homemade. Brie.