There’s something so very luxurious about the humble cheese, it’s indulgent and decadent, requiring precious time to savour. It also looks fabulous adorned with colourful fruits, chutneys, jellies and cured meats. Perhaps this is why it makes a perfect part of the Christmas meal.
But, this is no ordinary dinner party and a few slices of supermarket special will definitely not cut the mustard. So which cheeses will make your cheeseboard the shining star of the Christmas feast?
The Cheese Yard in Knutsford is one of the top artisan cheese retailers in the country. It is also a bijoux little cafe where you can sample a fabulous array of top awarded cheeses, take in brunch or lunch or just enjoy a glass of wine or craft beer. Owner, Sarah Peake gives her advice on selecting the perfect cheeses for the Christmas table.
“Six cheeses is an ideal number for your Christmas cheeseboard. It will give you a good variety of tastes and textures. You will need to allow about 25g of cheese per person plus fresh fruit. Grapes, pears and figs for example make a great accompaniment and will make your platter look even more beautiful. You can also present charcuterie meats as well as chutney, honey, jams and crackers – they all taste wonderful with cheese.”
Sarah recommends six cheeses, with Cheshire right there at the top. The county’s very own offering is now among the finest in the world.
CHESHIRE, a unique, complex cheese from the Appleby family at Hawkstone Abbey Farm, it has a crumbly texture and a zesty, full-bodied and tangy flavour. Cheshire is in fact Britain’s oldest cheese, having been made since before Roman times. It was recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086.
TOR (V) a goat’s cheese created at White Lake Dairy on Bagborough Farm in tribute to the ancient Glastonbury Tor in Somerset. Tor is an unusual, pyramid-shaped unpasteurised cheese. It has an ash coating and geotrichum rind, this soft goat cheese has a very smooth close texture. Its unique flavour is fresh and lemony with a hint of earthiness.
STILTON (V) is one of Britain’s best known cheeses and this Colston Bassett Stilton from Nottingham has an ideal balance of rich cream with fruity blue veins. A smooth creamy cheese with a mellow flavour. It takes 72 litres of milk to make one 7.5kg Stilton.
CAMEM BURT (V) from our local cheesemaker Claire Burt in Ollerton. A new cheese launched in 2017, made with Jersey milk, this soft cheese has a unique colour and rich flavour. It is firm and mild when young but when it matures it becomes softer and full of flavour. For a twist on tradition you could bake this cheese in the oven just before serving.
GRUYERE, our cave-aged Gruyere from Switzerland is matured for at least 14 months by the Affineur Walo. It is sweet, and the flavour is perfectly balanced. There are the floral, fruity notes, but it is the silky texture with the crunchy crystals and immense flavour that set this cheese apart from other Gruyeres. This cheese won the gold medal at the International Cheese Awards in Nantwich in 2017.
LINCOLNSHIRE POACHER, this vintage Lincolnshire Poacher made by Simon & Tim with a little help from their 230 Holstein Fresian Cows, using only their own unpasteurised milk and traditional methods. This cheese has been matured for 18 to 22 months. It has a deep and complex flavour with a lovely smooth lingering aftertaste, often with a hint of sweetness.
For some more top tips on the Christmas table, read ‘What to Quaff on Christmas Day’.
The Cheese Yard, 69 King Street, Knutsford, WA16 6DX 01565 751697