The Brie you know and love—the creamy, white, mold-ripened cheese—is typically aged five to ten weeks. But Brie Noir, or Black Brie, laughs at five to ten weeks. Brie Noir calls that amateur hour. Because Brie Noir takes up to two years to develop its distinct, dark color, its crumbly texture, and its earthy flavor.
This is bravado, though: Brie Noir is an exception to the rule of longer-aged food and drink being held in higher regard. The cheese’s origins likely lie in the people of Seine-et-Marne leaving surplus and misfit Brie to age longer. Soft, gooey Brie graced monarchs’ tables; Brie Noir became a staple for local laborers and a reminder of home for soldiers in World War I trenches (its hard texture lends itself to hardship). Brie travels the world; Brie Noir is hard to find outside Seine-et-Marne.
Even experienced cheese mongers can find the taste of black Brie disconcerting. The tasting notes range from mushroom-y or nutty to bitter and acidic, depending on the taster. But just about everyone agrees that that entire aging makes for a strong cheese. Perhaps that’s why so many locals dunk it in coffee.
As with many unusual delicacies, this cheese is only available in a few places. You might travel to Seine-et-Marne—an hour east of Paris by car or train. If going by train, the station at Coulommiers, has cheese markets.