Breadcrumb-fried Camembert, or Tunworth

The original idea for this recipe came from a mix of a nostalgic memory of a very ‘60s starter of deep fried camembert (or often, brie) with cranberry sauce which was sold as a ready-made ‘kit’ in ‘good’ supermarkets and served at dinner parties throughout the bourgeoisie; and a recipe I found in a book about Monet’s kitchen garden.

The book is Monet’s Palate Cookbook: The Artist and His Kitchen Garden at Giverny by Aileen Bordman and Derek Fell.

The authors don’t give the instructions for frying the cheese, but they do give a recipe for an apple and raisin chutney to go with it. Their reasoning was that the apple was “the queen of fruit in Normandy and the trees that produce the crisp orb for eating, cooking and baking are abundant”. Camembert is the king of cheese in Normandy, some of the best being produced not far from where Monet was living.

camembert
Claude Monet’s Normandy Train, might well have been bearing Camembert

The success of this dish, then, is a right-royal marriage of the king of cheeses to the queen of fruit. Unfortunately the Saucy Dressing team didn’t have much success with the apple and raisin chutney, but we certainly agree that apples get on very well indeed with camembert. Instead we created an apple and pear chutney and devised our own method with the fritters.

Like Monet, I am fortunate, living in Hampshire as I do. On my doorstep the best camembert in the world, according to Raymond Blanc, is produced – it’s known as Tunworth. And it raises this starter to the sublime.

tunworth cheese
Tunworth cheese, with a rich and earthy mushroom fragrance, and a long-lasting sweet and nutty flavour.

For our Charming Pear and Apple Chutney Laced With Stone’s Ginger Wine, follow this link. Or you could also try Apple and Blackberry Chutney. The apple component is important.

But the cranberry sauce version is also good. I served it up for my father-in-law in the late nineties (when he was also in his late nineties) and his comment was,

“I’m so glad I’ve lived as long as I have, so that I can savour this wonderful dish before I die… it’s one of the best things I’ve ever tasted!”

Prepare them ahead

This is how to make the breadcrumb-fried cheese – BUT – you can prepare them, coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs some six or seven hours before, ready to just dunk into the hot oil.

What to drink with it

A cool, crisp, dry cider of course!

You might also be interested in A Short Reverie On The Classic ‘Sixties Dinner Menu.

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