Christ­mas, the ideal time to be cheesy!

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLEANDPLACES - Susan Grif­fin

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.

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