The great British cheeseboard
The British Isles produce some of the best cheeses in the world so during this festive season why not put together a cheeseboard that ends a meal perfectly? Not a single plastic, tasteless cheese in sight.
The best meals are ones that are finished with a cheeseboard. We Brits produce over 700 varieties of this wonderful dairy product — with Cheshire cheese, dating back to Roman times, being one of the oldest. Some cheeses in the U.K. have Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.) status, for example Stilton can only be made in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
Stichelton — this unpasteurised blue cheese is produced on the Welbeck Estate near Mansfield. It is strong, rich and creamy and essentially a very good Stilton. Due to P.D.O. and the fact it is made with unpasteurised milk, it isn’t allowed to use the iconic name. However, Stichelton is the old English name for the village of Stilton.
Gorwydd Caerphilly — all good cheeseboards need a tart, relatively mild and crumbly cheese. This award-winning Welsh variety from Trethowans Dairy is something else. The firmer outer layer with hints of citrus gives way to a creamy, almost brie-like centre. Like Stilchelton this uses unpasteurised milk.
Shorrock’s Lancashire bomb — this is one very strong Lancashire cheese that has been left 24 months to mature. Served in a traditional black wax-coating resembling a bomb (hence the name,) this cheese certainly packs a punch. What is superb is that, when left at room temperature, it turns in to a wonderful soft, spreadable cheese. This works very well with a spicy chilli jam that helps to cut through the creaminess.
Sparkenhoe — a wonderful Red Leicester cheese made by a working dairy farm in south-west Leicestershire. If I could only have one cheese on my cheeseboard this would be it. It is nutty and sweet without being overpowering. Dare I suggest it also makes amazing cheese on toast. If you like stronger cheeses, their vintage Sparkenhoe that has been matured for 18 months is well worth a try.
Toasts for Cheese — when I first saw these thin, crispy biscuits from the Fine Cheese Company I was confused: they looked like sweet biscuits. However, they are designed to be eaten with cheese. Yes, they are delicious on their own but pair the cherry and almond biscuit with a blue cheese and prepare to be amazed.
Fudges biscuits — their whole biscuits for cheese range is fabulous. Do not dismiss the charcoal crackers due to the odd name; they are the perfect accompaniment for soft cheese.
Peter’s Yard crispbreads — these Swedish-style crispbreads have won a Great Taste Award for a reason. They come in three different sizes and I think the mini ones are particularly good for a cheeseboard.
Bacon jam — bacon and jam, oh yes. Over the last year bacon has appeared in various sweet and savoury goods but this is one pairing where it works well. Think of it less as a jam and more as a smoky chutney, rammed with the goodness of bacon. It goes particularly well with a strong, sharp cheese like Cheddar. Try to resist eating spoonfuls of this Eat17 product direct from the jar.