Christmas, the ideal time to be cheesy!
FORGET chocolate fountains and sweet treats, as a self-confessed cheese-fiend, I was in seventh heaven on stepping into the mammoth marquee at the International Cheese Awards in Nantwich earlier this year. And I wasn’t the only one.
Around 35,000 fellow fromage fans traipsed through the tent, housing over 4,000 dairy entries all vying for a whiff of recognition from industry experts and consumers alike – and lucky me got to sample a hefty number of them.
Of course, cheese is welcome at the table all year round - but Christmas is one of those times where it really takes centre stage.
Before planning this year’s selection, however, Nigel White, secretary of the British Cheese Board debunks some myths and celebrates all that’s wonderful and delicious about this dairy delight...
When considering your cheese board this Christmas, a sample of five cheeses should meet the needs of most people around the table. Here are White’s suggestions:
I adore the West Country Farmhouse Cheddars. They’ve been kept for about 15 months and have got a real bite of acid to them.
Go for a Somerset Brie, which will go runny and have some pretty complex flavours in it. Although not to the extent of Brie de Meaux, which many regard to be the best.
Choose a Creamy or Mature Blue Stilton, which has been kept for a bit longer and should be nicely broken down with a mellow flavour. Remember to take it out an hour before serving.
Try a unique local cheese. For me, that would be something like St Giles, a Saint Paulin-type soft, springy cheese, which isn’t strong but a delight.
I would also have a blended cheese. My favourite, because I’ve got a slightly sweet palette, would be a white Stilton with mango and ginger.
After dinner, with crackers and chutney what could be better than some great tasting cheese, so here are three of the best chutneys...
Rubies in the Rubble Red Onion & Chilli Chutney, £3.69, Ocado
A little more expensive than most, but the wonderfully simple packaging makes this chutney a great addition to the dining table and, more importantly, it’s very tasty, with a gentle hint of chilli kicking through the onions.
Truly Irresistible Tomato and Chilli Chutney, £1.50, The Co-operative
Shortlisted for The Grocer Own Label Awards, this brilliantly priced chutney is gentle on the pocket and makes a tasty treat for those looking for a hint of heat.
M Signature Spiced Fruit & Balsamic Chutney, £1.39, Morrisons
With its warming spices and tang of balsamic vinegar, this is the perfect accompaniment for cheese and cold meats this Christmas.