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The perfect Christmas cheeseboard

Updated: Mar 31, 2020


Preparing the perfect Christmas cheeseboard I believe is all about a couple of key components: looks, choice and a variety of textures and tastes.

Looks - We eat with our eyes so yes its got to look great. Cheese luckily comes in various colours, shapes and sizes so its the arranging that can be more challenging. Dried fruit, fresh fruit like figs and a few pieces of chocolate all add to the perfect picture!

Choice - Are you doing cheese from the world? are you going with a Meditteranean platter maybe including cold meats and dips or are you going British? Whatever you do at least three cheeses are important. Another tip is to serve at least one familiar cheese. Most cheese belongs to one of four basic categories: aged, soft, firm or blue. For a good variety, choose at least one from each group. Some examples: Aged: Aged Cheddar, Comte, Goat Gouda Soft: Constant Bliss, Camembert, Brillat-Savarin Firm: Manchego, Mimolette, Parmigiano-Reggiano Blue: Gorgonzola Dolce, Valdeón, Stilton

You can also try selecting cheeses by the type of milk used (cow, goat, sheep). This will ensure a range of different flavors on the plate.

My favourite Cheddars?

Traditionally our British cheese and now there are so many choices. For my festive board I would choose one of these: Black Bomber - just looks so impressive in its wax black jacket, and exudes an intense and strong taste. Cornish Yarg - a delicate, yoghurt cheese, probably the opposite of a black bomber! Very pretty visually as it is wrapped in nettle leaves. Cornish Yarg tends to have a fluffy textured centre with lactic flavours and a buttery, creamy breakdown under the slightly early edible rind. Sussex Charmer - Made by Plaw Hatch Farm, East Sussex, about 10 miles away. The vintage Cheddar is aged for two years and is from cows bred for a richer, creamier milk.

How Much Is Enough?

For a party in which cheese is the main event, plan on buying 3 pounds for 8 people, 6 pounds for 16, or 9 pounds for 24. If cheese is one of many items being served, plan on buying 3 to 4 ounces per person.

According to Carl at Flint & Oak, our local farm shop and Deli in Westerham he lists his favourite British cheeses:

Kingscott Blue - East Sussex - This blue is a lovely semi-soft cheese with a lighter taste than traditional blues and it's brother the 'Kingcote Blue'. Matured for around six weeks it is a lovely example of a Sussex cheese.

including a great selection of cheese

Winterdale Shaw - Kent - The UK's first carbon neutral cheese produced in Wrotham, less than 15 minutes from here. Its is aged in chalk caves on the North Downs giving it a deep complex flavour and savoury, cheese and onion tang, balanced with the rich creaminess of the milk.

This is one of my personal favourites!

Beauvale - Nottinghamshire - A British Gorgonzola styled cheese; we love its soft melt-in-the-mouth texture and mellow flavour. Perfect for both Stilton fans and those who prefer a milder blue flavour.

Bix - Oxon - A triple cream, organic soft cheese based on northern French cheeses like Brillat, Savarin or Chaource, the pate is dense and rich with a mouthfeel not unlike butter. The flavours open with hints of yoghurt and grassy sweetness, deepening into toasty notes. The aromas are quite earthy.

Truffle Gloucester - Gloucester - This farmhouse, natural rind, single Gloucester cheese is made using organic milk, before being infused with Truffle Hunter's Minced Black Summer Truffles. The cheese has a striking line of black truffle running through the middle, which allows both the cheese and and the black truffle to express their natural complexities, without overpowering each other.

Rollright - Cotswolds - This cheese follows a process of brine washing the rind to develop its own native yeasts and bacteria, giving the beautiful peachy apricot hue with a taste that is not too strong but resonates a sweet woodland aroma.

Textures and Taste -This is vital with the perfect platter to please all tastes. A cheeseboard is really a 'mini meal' on a plate and one of my favourites on a cosy winter night with a glass of red wine! So accompaniments, breads, crackers (the more shapes and sizes the better), chutneys, fruit (figs, cherries, apples, or pears) and chocolate (dark and some milk with fruit and nut). Try sweet preserves or honey, tart chutneys, and spicy mustards. You can add artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and caponata. If you have a bit more time, prepare caramelised onions, which complement most cheese plates. Nuts - salty, and sweet work well too! Is there something crunchy, soft, spicy, salty and sweet? If you can answer -Yes- then I would say there is a potentially great platter of food.

Serving Tips

Separate strong-smelling cheeses. If you want to serve a pungent, stinky-socks cheese, place it on a separate plate so it doesn't overpower more delicate ones. Four or five choices are enough! Remove the cheese from the fridge an hour before serving, the cold mutes the cheese flavour.

Spread out the spread. Place the cheese platters and the other nibbles on several tables to avoid guest gridlock. Label each cheese so you won’t need to recite the names all evening. If you like, also jot down a few poetic adjectives describing its flavour.

Remember Christmas cake goes beautifully with a cheese board!

Other ideas

One of my other favourites with cheese is a baked brie or camembert, such an easy and relaxed way of entertaining - lots of delicious serving tips and you don't need to have anything fancy in the way of bakers or gadgets, drop me an email for more recipes and ideas...

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