17 Oct 2019
How To Create The Perfect Christmas Cheeseboard
16 Nov 2018
Christmas, as the song tells us, is the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone has their own festive traditions, and Christmas means different things to different people, but to us it means one thing. CHEESE!!
There are lots of reasons why cheese is the ideal food for Christmas. It’s an amazing, rich, comforting food making it great for long dark evenings and it’s also the kind of food that can be kept in the fridge for a couple of weeks and brought out on multiple occasions over the holiday season. But most importantly it’s brilliant for Christmas because perfect for sharing.
Putting together an interesting cheeseboard isn’t necessarily as easy as you might think though. We’ve put together a list of 7 things you might want to consider when making a selection
One of the questions we get asked most frequently is how much cheese is needed per person. The answer is that it depends on the event and what other food will be served. For example, if you’re catering for a cheese and wine evening, and the cheese will be the main food, we’d recommend between 150g and 200g per person. However if you’re serving the cheese as the final course in a big meal, somewhere between 80g and 100g is likely to be sufficient.
With so many styles and varieties of cheese available, it’s easy to get carried away and end up with a dozen cheeses all vying for attention on a board. We think that it’s better to select 4 or 5 great cheeses to allow each one to be properly enjoyed without your palate being overwhelmed.
A classic combination is a hard cheese, a soft cheese, a blue, a goat’s cheese and something a little unusual.
The hard cheese is often a Cheddar, so Hafod, Caws Cryf or Black Bomber would fill the role well, but a great Caerphilly will work brilliantly too. Thelma or Gorwydd Caerphilly both have as much depth of flavour as any good Cheddar. The soft cheese on a cheeseboard is most commonly a Brie. There are some great Brie style cheeses made in Wales these days. Perl Wen is a very popular choice, and Angiddy, from the Wye Valley, is rapidly becoming a personal favourite.
We’re also spoilt for choice when it comes to great Welsh blues. Tysul blue, Mon Las and Perl Las are three gorgeous cow’s milk blues, or if you want to go for something a bit more adventurous why not try Dol Las, the new ewe’s milk blue from Caws Cenarth.
There is also a wide range of goats milk cheeses made in Wales. You could opt for a soft goats cheese such as Pant ys Gawn, or a firmer variety such as Heb Enw, made in Pembrokeshire or Tysilio, made on Anglesey. Selecting an interesting final variety is always the most exciting part for me. I often like to throw in a rind-washed cheese – one with heaps of flavour (and odour!) that will be a real talking point. Celtic Promise or Golden Cenarth are perfect for that. Or, for a Christmas cheese you might want to include something with some fruit in such as Caws Cenarth’s Brandi Braf (a mature Cheddar with apricots and brandy) or Snowdonia’s Bouncing Berry (a Cheddar with cranberries).
Accompaniments and Presentation
Accompaniments are another important consideration. A wide variety of crackers is a must. Cradocs crackers, made near Brecon, are highly recommended, as are the Cnwc crackers, which are made in west Wales. A decent selection of chutneys always goes down well too. I’d say at least two chutneys for a decent cheeseboard. The great thing about chutneys is that they’ll last forever in the cupboard, so you can never have too many!
To add a bit of extra interest to a cheeseboard why not include some fresh or dried fruit. Figs are a popular option, and slices of apple/ pear are always a common cheeseboard addition. Dried apricots or dates can also add a bit of colour and a different combination of flavours.
Many great articles, and even books have been written on the subject of cheese pairings, so I’m not going to do the subject any justice here, but I will say that cheeses can be paired with just about anything. You might well want to pair some of the cheeses with wine, or perhaps you’ll be opting for cheese and beer pairings. You could even be matching the strength of flavour of your cheeses with the strength and character of previous courses. It’s definitely an infinitely interesting area to explore, but its important to remember there’s no right or wrong when it comes to pairings – just personal tastes and preferences.
A lot of our cheeses are cut from large truckles. These are always hand cut and wrapped in cheese paper on the same day that they’re sent out to keep them as fresh as possible. Cheese that is prepared in this way does have a limited shelf life though. We tend to put a best before date on freshly cut cheese of between 7 and 10 days. This is a conservative estimate, and many will last longer when stored properly.
If you’re planning a cheeseboard for Christmas Day or Boxing Day you can select a delivery day up until December 20th when ordering on our website. If you’re planning to keep your cheese in the fridge for more than a couple of weeks before eating then you might want to opt for wax covered or mini/ individually wrapped varieties.
Storing and Serving
To ensure your cheese is kept as fresh as possible it should be kept in a cool, dry place such as a fridge or larder. If storing in a fridge then the bottom of the fridge is better than the top. Open cheeses should be wrapped in a wax paper that will allow the cheese to breathe.
Cheese should be eaten at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge an hour or so before serving.
Any good cheesemonger will be able to advise you on selecting specific cheeses that they have in stock that they think will work well together for a cheeseboard. We have curated some cheeseboards of our own, of various sizes and price points, if you’d like to order through our website.