We’re well into December now, so it’s time to start talking about the good stuff.
No surprise – I start planning my Christmas cheese well in advance. (I have the very last piece of that stunning one year old Red Leicester tucked away, but there are already more maturing gently, so hopefully it’ll be back in six months or so!)
But what do you get when you have one diner who is staunchly anti-blue, one who can’t eat cows milk cheese and one who’ll only eat cheddar? Not to mention the riot when the truly stinky cheeses come out!
Fear not – The Truckle Truck is here to help!
The first thing to think about is when you’ll be having your cheese.
If you go with tradition and bring out the cheese board after the main meal, your guests will have already tucked into two, three or maybe even four courses. If that’s the case, you can expect your cheeseboard to be nibbled at, rather than devoured.
Keep it simple, with three or four cheeses so everyone can have a bit of everything without fearing a reprise ofthe infamous ‘wafer thin mint’ sketch. Larger pieces of cheese will also stand up to being cut repeatedly, when your diners discover that they could probably enjoy just one more morsel, or maybe two…
If you have your main meal earlier in the day, and serve up the cheeseboard as a light supper, you can go for a few more cheeses to keep your guests entertained as well as satiated until you’ve finished the hard work in the kitchen. You can probably have some of the more unusual cheeses too – the afore-mentioned stinkers (technical term, that) are a great centre piece, or maybe some goat’s gouda with fenugreek or a truffled camembert.
Try and have a mixture of textures of cheese – a hard and smooth, something crumbly, something gooey and something ‘fresh’ (Gruyere, Spenwood, Gorgonzola and Beau Farm’s St Maure-style log, for example) as well as trying to get a balance between sweet, sharp and strong flavours.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask your friendly cheesemonger for advice, and also for a taste. (You will be the one who’ll have to eat up any leftovers.) We’d all rather you remembered your Christmas cheese for the right reasons!