It takes more than a few dry crackers from the back of the cupboard and a dollop of chutney to impress your guests. You’re aiming for domestic goddess (let’s not judge), not domestic science, remember! The key is to channel your inner artist and just let yourself go!
In the beginning its important to consider the shape of your serving board (long and thin for a flight of cheeses or round for sharing) and of course the material. You can use slate, wood, glass; anything that will provide a suitable wipe-able surface. You’re trying to create drama, an interplay of texture, colour, height and of course something pongy as well!
As a rule we say ‘hard, soft, blue, goat/ewe and maybe a washed rind too’, So what’s good at the moment?
Let’s start with two hard cheeses, the Extra Mature Cornish Gouda is out of the park with its abundance of calcium lactate crystals, as a contrast we recommend the creamy earthy minerality of Westcombe Cheddar. Or Hafod, organic cheddar from North Wales. mm mmm mmmm!
Soft: Baron Bigod from Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk, it’s just sooo good, fresh field mushroom aromas moving towards that cabbagy woof! Or Lamb Leer from our friends at Homewood, a small artisan ewe’s milk cheese producer, this one is bloomy and fresh.
And Washed Rinds: Baronet, a Jersey Reblochon from Wiltshire, Gubbeen from County Cork in Ireland (possibly the home of washed rind cheese) and why not some Ashcombe by David Jowett at King Stone Dairy, a British take on the French classic Morbier.
A great cheese board needs more than just (amazing) cheese, throw on some walnuts, grapes, or figs, maybe some olives and don’t forget the charcuterie. Membrillo, truffled honey or some sweet crunchy balsamic onions all add that extra touch. And don’t forget the humble cracker too, the ultimate vehicle to get that delicious cheese in your mouth! Peter’s Yard bake a crisp sourdough cracker or try a Cradoc’s made by a small family business in Wales!
Now, cheese is amazing, but want to create a match made in heaven? Let’s introduce some vino. Make sure you’re sat in a sturdy chair at this point. Here’s the honest truth, getting the red vino out really isn’t a good idea unless you’re eating a strong, hard cheese. Try a Perry with your pungent washed wine cheese and a strong, Belgium blonde beer with your chunk of Parmesan. Honestly you will thank us in heaps later! A light, lactic goats cheese such as Tor Sauvignon blanc will have you going back for more teamed with Or a good all round choice would be our ‘Vin de Paille Epicure‘ sweet wine, grapes sun ripened on mats in the warm sun of autumn.
Now you have the board, you have gone all out on the accompaniments and you’ve got the booze in. Next, step back and take some time to love your cheese. Artisan producers have lovingly created their cheese for you to enjoy at it’s best and that takes a little bit of time.
Don’t suffocate your poor cheese in the fridge. Cling film on the cut surface of hard cheeses will help keep them fresh and stop them from drying out, but leave the rind unwrapped, this allows the cheese to breathe. Wax paper is kinder for soft cheeses and make sure your blue cheeses (without a rind) still have their full metal (foil) jacket on!
It’s best you have your cheese delivered a little ahead of schedule. You’ll want it to be perfect in every single way. Keep and eye on any ‘soggy bottoms’ and turn the cheese as required. A little mould growth is natural and part of the cheese, trim your cheese before serving if you see too much bloom!
Most of us are happier at just the right temperature and this goes for cheese too! Whatever you do, don’t serve your cheese straight from the fridge. Remove your cheese about an hour (depending on temperatures) before it is to be eaten and leave it covered with a clean, damp tea towel in a cool place. Assemble your board of beautiful, delectable cheese & accompaniments, sit back and bask in the glory your friends and family will bestow on you, your job is done. You are a champion!
If you ever need any advice, please just give us a call, we’re always here to help.
Louise & Leo