How to create the best Christmas cheeseboard | Christmas food and drink
How do I put together the best Christmas cheeseboard?
The number one rule, Sarah, is not to buy your cheese too early. “It’s like a bottle of wine – when you open a whole cheese, a lot of those flavours, smells and textures dissipate with time,” says Andrew Swinscoe, who owns and runs The Courtyard Dairy near Settle, North Yorkshire. “You could buy some waxed truckles now for Christmas, but cut pieces are best bought as close to the day as possible.”
As for which cheese to go for, either play it safe with a spread of crowd-pleasers, be a little more adventurous or find a happy medium. Whatever your strategy, Patricia Michelson of La Fromagerie in London says, “Always stick to growing the flavours and textures to an ultimate flourish at the end.” But how, exactly, do you do this? Michelson suggests starting with “a fresh goat’s cheese with nice acidity to neutralise and cleanse the palate, then a crumbly, light cheese such as young wensleydale, followed by a creamy, bloomy, white rind camembert or brie de meaux.” Next up is a “hard, fruity cheese” (think cheddar or a gruyere-style), followed by a washed-rind cheese such as epoisses, “housing a mellow, rich, buttery texture”, and finish with a blue to “bring the cheeseboard together”.
Swinscoe, meanwhile, experiments with the classics, such as brie, cheddar, blues: “Look for something different in their families, just to mix it up.” For example, “instead of going for stilton, go for darling blue, which is a bit more interesting”, while a classic brie could be swapped for a “really buttery and creamy” rollright. The trick, however, is not to get carried away. “People buy lots of different types of cheese, and end up with loads of small bits of leftovers that dry out,” Swinscoe says. “Four or five great cheeses is the best place to be.” You could, though, simply hero one cheese: “A majestic cheddar or stilton on its own with a glass of port or madeira…