Although much imitated everywhere, production of Camembert originated in Normany, France, invented in 1791 by Marie Harel. The name "Camembert de Normandie" is protected under AOC rules that were grantd in 1983, meaning that cheeses bearing this name have to be made according to specific guidelines.
Regions for production are Calvados, Eure, Manche, Orne and Seine-Maritime, all areas that are dominated by excellent grazing pasture and a mild maritime climate. Milk for production is sourced only from local herds of Normandie cows.
Production of Camembert de Normandie, which is made from raw milk, involves the very careful handling of the curd in order to preserve as much moisture as possible. If the curd is overly agitated, it quickly drains of whey thereby ruining the texture of what should be a soft and yielding cheese.
Four or five scoops of curd are ladled into the molds and then allowed to drain under their own weight. After several hours they are firm enough to be turned out of their molds and moved to a drying room. Here, they are turned every 48 hours to ensure the even distribution of moisture throughout the cheese and a slight drying of the surface. This encourages growth of the Penicillium Candidum mold and the formation of the white bloomy rind. Cheeses are then transferred to a maturing room or, as is often the case, sold to an affineur for further maturation and finishing.
When ripe, Camembert Normandie are covered with a white, bloomy mold that frequently has slightly reddish stripes and patches. Aromas are of mushrooms and clean cellar.
The texture of the cheese should be supple, yielding, and consistent throughout. The color of the interior paste is a deep, golden yellow.
Flavors of genuine Camembert Normandie are buttery and rich with hints of mushrooms or truffles and cellar.
Good pairings include Chenin Blanc, a light red wine such as Beaujolais or classically a glass of Normandy cider.