Brie is a soft cow's milk cheese named after Brie, the French province in which it originated (roughly corresponding to the modern département of Seine-et-Marne). It is pale in color with a slight greyish tinge under crusty white mould; very soft and savoury with a hint of ammonia. The white mouldy rind is tasteless and edible.
There are now many varieties of Brie made all over the world, including plain Brie, herbed varieties, double and triple brie and versions of Brie made with other types of milk. Brie is perhaps the most well-known French cheese, and is popular throughout the world. Despite the variety of Bries, the French government officially certifies only two types of Brie to be sold under that name: Brie de Meaux (shown to the right) and Brie de Melun.
The Brie de Meaux, manufactured outside of Paris since the 8th century, was originally known as the "King's Cheese" (later, following the French Revolution, the "King of Cheeses") and was enjoyed by the peasantry and nobility alike. It was granted the protection of AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) status in 1980, and is produced primarily in the eastern part of the Parisian basin.
Brie may be produced from whole or semi-skimmed milk. The curd is obtained by adding rennet to raw milk and heating it to a maximum temperature of 37°C. The cheese is then cast into molds, sometimes with a traditional perforated ladle called a "pelle à brie". The 20 cm mold is filled with several thin layers of cheese and drained for approximately 18 hours. The cheese is then taken out of the molds, salted, inoculated with cheese mold (Penicillium candidum, Penicillium camemberti and/or Brevibacterium linens) and aged in a cellar for at least four weeks.