Glad tidings Cheesy1’s,
Christmas time is nearly here and the season for cheeseboards is ever near!
This week as promised is a very festive post for you all to enjoy, and it will feature what I think is the perfect Formal/ Informal Christmas cheeseboard. I will provide you with hints & tips along the way to make your cheese extra special and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask for some advice.
Now its time to get festive with Cheese!
At the moment the thought of the big day seems like ages away but actually in just a few weeks it will be over, so time is upon us all to get prepared. Cheese is not only a staple throughout the year but also Christmas and the first tip is to keep it simple, by serving some quality cheeses means your guests can savour those instead of providing a plethora of cheeses, good for your wallet & good for your guests. When it comes to catering for your nearest & dearest work on the allowance of between 80g-100g (3-4oz) for the size of cheese per person (e.g. If your buying stilton for 8 people you would want to buy about 750g-800g of cheese). I hope this helps when it comes to buying your cheese but what cheese should you buy? That is a good question and it really depends on what you like, but If you really like a certain cheese and you can sing its praises then select that to serve because your passion will rub off onto your guests. Once you have all your cheeses take them out an hour before serving so that they can breather and warm to the air temperature, this helps to get the cream & fat in the cheese moving to give the fullest flavour possible.
The basics of a cheeseboard is to select at least one cheese from the main categories such as Cheddar, Blue, Hard, Soft, Other Milk & Flavour/Added. You can add more or less to your board whatever suits your style and always add a selection of accompaniments such as crackers, chutneys, jams, fruits and nuts. You may also want to consider sticking to a certain country to give the cheese board an overall feel and by adding a theme can also be quite interesting and can make your guests more intrigued.
Now lets move on to creating the perfect Formal cheeseboard for which I will be using all British cheeses (We have over 700 varieties of cheese in England now and we should all support them through our cheeseboards.):
- Cheddar : Wookey Hole – A lovely creamy & smooth cheddar without any bitterness. Because its cave aged it develops a nutty flavour that will delight any discerning palate, it was also International Cheese Awards Supreme Champion 2011. Available at most Supermarkets including Waitrose.
- Blue : Colston Bassett Stilton – Rich with a medium/ strong blue flavour. This smooth and buttery Stilton certainly ticks all the boxes and is still traditionally handmade which reflects in its flavour. Just serve with a selection of biscuits and this Stilton is almost certain to be a sure fire winner on your cheeseboard. Available at Waitrose from the cheese counter.
- Hard : Stoney Cross – This isn’t a rock solid cheese but it is firm enough to suit and it wont disappoint you when it comes to taste. Made by Lyburn cheese from their 180 strong herd the flavour Is light and lends itself to easy cheese eating. I find a New Forest honey pairs with this cheese well. Available at Lyburn Cheese Shop in Landford or online at https://stanstedfarmshop.com/product/stoney-cross-cheese-1-85-100g/ .
- Soft : Lightwood Chaser – This creamy and smooth white rind cheese is indulgent but that is what Christmas is all about! Based on Chaource cheese from France this cheese has extra cream that is added that makes the texture buttery smooth and it will just melt in the mouth. Available online from http://www.lightwoodcheese.com/cheese-shop/ .
- Other Milk : Rosary Goats Garlic & Herb Log – This light & mousy goats cheese has some garlic & herb added to make this cheese even more savoury. It has a little sharpness which is balanced by the addition of garlic, but it creates a pleasant flavour and is easy on the palate. This cheese was awarded Supreme Champion at the British Cheese Awards 2014. Available from Waitrose.
- Flavour Added : Long Clawson White Stilton With Apricot – This stilton is made by Long Clawson which has been producing cheese since 1911 and this particular Stilton has added apricots. This makes the cheese sweet, creamy and fruity. Don’t be put off by having blended cheeses because the majority comes from the same creamery’s that make your normal favourites. Available online from http://www.clawson.co.uk/our-cheese/white-stilton-with-apricot/ .
I believe that the cheeseboard above would be a perfect to share for the festive season. It oozes flavour & will go down a treat with your guests. For the Informal cheeseboard I’m going to use a mixture of British & Continental cheeses because I feel that this will make for a unique cheeseboard that certainly packs for the flavours in for a relatively low price point.
- Cheddar : Cornish Quartz Cheddar – A relative newcomer to the cheesy world but it certainly packs a punch to the palate. Its crunchy, crumbly, strong, creamy and rich but as soon as you try it you will want some more! Produced by the same dairy that make Davidstow cheese it is a delicious tasting cheese. To make it even more special get it cut into triangles and put them together to make it look like a wedge of cheese. Available only at Waitrose on the cheese counter.
- Blue : Cropwell Bishop Beauvale – This is also a newcomer but again it has certainly made an entrance! The smooth & creaminess of this cheese is indulgent but the blue lets you know its there without being overpowering. This new take on a stilton style cheese will go down a treat with your cheeseboard eaters and won’t disappoint the traditionalists. Available from Supermarkets & http://www.cropwellbishopstilton.com/shop/beauvale/c-23/c-75 .
- Hard : Old Amsterdam – This caramel coloured cheese is sweet, salty and nutty. It is something fairly unique without costing the earth. This hard cheese warms the palate and makes for pleasant eating. This will look good on the board and will taste even better. Available from most Supermarkets.
- Soft : Le Rustique – This brie is one I always turn back to because its light mushroom flavour is something that I like but add the creamy edge as well and it makes for good eating. This brie is best when its light golden in colour and is oozing out at the sides. I would put some apricot jam/chutney on my board to serve with this cheese as it pairs really well. Available from Tesco & Waitrose.
- Other Milk : Soignon Goat Log – This French goats cheese is smooth & creamy whilst not being overly goat like in taste. This cheese is soft like a brie but is thicker as its in a log so will look unique on the board. This will please goat cheese eaters and maybe turn a few of your guests into goats cheese eaters. Available from Waitrose.
- Flavour Added : Wensleydale & Cranberries – What festive meal wouldn’t be complete without cranberries? This blended cheese from the Wensleydale creamery is sweet, creamy and mild but is perfect to add some colour to a cheeseboard. A firm favourite over the seasonal period is Wensleydale but by adding the cranberries its brings into a more themed addition to your meal. A perfect way to keep the theme of Christmas throughout every course. Available from most Supermarkets.
This cheeseboard is fun, unique and will keep the flavours going from cheese to cheese which will excite & delight your guests. It will be perfect for Christmas eve, the main event or Boxing Day whichever day takes your fancy!
I really hope this helps inspire your cheeseboards for 2014 and remember if your stuck stick to a small selection of cheeses you know so that the passion can be passed on to your guests. If you have any questions don’t forget to Ask The Cheesy1!
I wish all my Cheesy1’s a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!