Ladies and gentleman, I have found the perfect Camembert, and it’s not from France (pause for you all to shudder). Nope, the bite that convinced me that this was the one Camembert to rule them all – the Ring of Camemberts, if you will – did not come from a tiny cheesemaker in rural Normandy. It happened at the Minneapolis Farmers Market one recent Saturday morning as I battled the crowds with my husband, best college pal and three young kids in tow. That’s when I came across Keith Adams of Alemar Cheese Company, who was sampling his Bent River, and I fell in love (with the cheese, of course, not Keith).
This can not be! you may declare. True Camembert can only come from France, not Mankato, Minn. Taste this cheese and I think you’ll lose the argument. Using Cedar Summit Farm milk, which is known throughout the state for its pure, rich, milkly flavor, Adams has crafted a cheese that defines what a Camembert should taste like – a full-bodied creaminess that doesn’t left a rank aftertaste, as many Camemberts I’ve tried have done. Yes, it’s made with pasteurized rather than raw milk, which is why Adams calls it a “Camembert-style” cheese, but I’m not getting caught up in semantics. I just want more of this cheese. I want to let it get as soft as possible and dip everything in it – apple slices, my favorite Rustica bread, rack of lamb (well, maybe not that). You’ll want to bathe your tongue in its luscious warmth, savoring the sweet cream and slightly sharper rind with every chew.
It was fortuitous that I came upon Adams’ booth that morning – I normally go to the farmers market on Sunday mornings, when he’s not there, so this was my first chance to meet him and taste the cheese. Bent River is also available at local cheese shops and co-ops, but there’s nothing like purchasing it straight from the hands that made the cheese. I’d like to say I paired it with a delicious bubbly and had a sophisticated snack that night, but truth be told, I devoured it at lunch like a pig at a trough. I guess I’ll be switching my market day for the rest of the season.