MY PERFECT… CHEESE BOARD

Cheese is a big deal in the Sackett family, if we ever have a special dinner party there’s always an impressive cheese board brought out to gorge on either after pudding/or before pudding – we’re not quite sure which is the correct way round, but I alway prefer it after pudding. As a small child I developed a fond taste for brie, I remember sneaking it out the fridge! My dad would occasionally make me brie sandwiches to take for my lunch at primary school, at morning break when everyone else would be munching on their Walker’s crisps, I’d be peeling the brie out of my sandwiches and stuffing that in my mouth instead – nice at the time but when it got to lunchtime, bread and butter was a bit boring! So for me, brie definitely has to be my favourite on a cheese board. I am also a big fan of Wensleydale and cranberries. Cheese snobs will probably screw their nose up at this, but I think it’s lovely and enjoy the sweetness of the cranberries paired with the creamy crumbly texture of the Wensleydale.

Steve and I went to the Lake District for a few days at the end of October and we though it would be a great idea to go the Cheese Shop in Chester to buy a nice selection of cheeses as a special treat and as a reward for all the walking we would be doing. So of course, brie and Wendsleydale made an appearance. We also had Crabtree, which is a cheese I had tasted before when I worked in a restaurant as this was a cheese that featured on their cheeseboard. Crabtree is made locally in Cheshire, it’s a fruity and creamy cheese made to an alpine recipe using unpasteurised cows milk. The other cheeses we chose we hadn’t had before but they were all delicious! We chose Teifi which again is made with unpasteurised cows milk, made in Wales by a Dutchman. It tasted really intense and mature. Vignotte is a light and creamy French cheese made with triple cream cheese, apparently it goes very well with champagne! For our blue cheese we chose Shropshire Blue made by Colston Bassett which has a lovely creamy taste to it. The last cheese we chose was called Celtic Promise, which was a delicious cow’s milk cheese washed in cider made in Wales. The cheese has a soft buttery texture with a pungent aroma and but a delicate mild flavour. I always like to have a bit of chutney on my cheeseboard – my favourite being my mum’s very own “Doverhouse Chutney” which is a Delia Smith recipe but instead of using plums, mum uses damsons as we have rather a lot in a garden. H xx

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I think choosing my favourite cheese would be like having to choose a favourite child. There are thousands out there and so many I have never tried so I’m not sure I could ever truly have a ‘perfect’ cheeseboard. It depends on the time of year and what I feel like eating at that time, for instance a hot baked Camembert with crusty bread dipped in in the winter is just divine, but something I wouldn’t do in the summer. I also think that it is nice to sometimes do a mix of British and Continental cheeses or sometimes just focus on one or the other. I have selected a few highlights that I have come across in my 26 years that I am rather keen on. I did used to work in cheese and from that brief time I only scratched the surface really and discovered that the cheese world is immense and complex and each cheese has a mass of knowledge behind it. No two cheeses will ever really be the same as it is a live product.

Constructing a ‘perfect’ cheeseboard is also a topic of hot debate, I learnt a few things though- usually you should have an odd number (5 or 7 cheeses is usually considered optimal) I’m not really sure why though! You should get a good variety of soft, hard, regional crumblies, blue and a personal favourite cheese on there. I like a selection of homemade chutnies, jellies and honey with mine, as well as grapes. I actually prefer eating cheese with a good crusty loaf or baguette as opposed to crackers or biscuits, but then again it depends on what cheeses you are serving. But if I had the choice, I like to eat cheese on its own best.    Also a cheeky trick with cheese is that you can serve a bottle of cheaper red wine if you so desire, as the fat from the cheese coats the mouth and therefore makes the wine taste much smoother than it actually is.

Cheddar- I know most people will see this as a bog standard, boring sandwich cheese but I honestly think it is one of the best cheeses out there and for me the more mature (vintage mature), the better. Its a definite crowd pleaser, nearly everyone you know will eat it and when it’s flinty with crunchy salt/latic crystals in, it is so moreish. If I were to do a more continental cheeseboard, I would probably choose Comté cheese to act as a Cheddar as it has similar flavour cues.

When we have been to France and Jersey on holiday, one of my favourite soft cheeses is Chaumes cheese but I find it quite difficult to get hold of here in the UK, so as a substitute I will use Port Salut instead, which is our sister Faye’s favourite. I eat everything too, rind and all. Port Salut is creamy and mild whereas Chaumes has a slightly stronger flavour with buttery and nutty notes.

Mature Gouda- I have only recently discovered this cheese and really like it and it is really quite different from the mild and sometimes frankly quite plasticy tasting gouda that you can have on a sandwich. It is quite caramel like yet slightly salty at the same time with a definite ‘umami flavour’.

Being Cheshire born and bred, I really love Cheshire cheese. Now that I live in Lancashire and my other half is from Lancashire, I now love that too, but not as much as Cheshire sorry! I think it has quite an adult taste actually but is clean, creamy and lacticy which I love and it goes really well with chutney. My best friend in high school’s Dad made Cheshire cheese called ‘Windsors’ which is the best Cheshire I have ever tasted but sadly they don’t make it anymore. I used to love going round to their farm and having the ‘cheese tour’ and then eating it at lunchtime. Another good regional crumbly cheese is mature Wensleydale, it has a much more complex flavour than your average Wensleydale and is delicious.

Blacksticks Blue is one of my favourite blue cheeses and I first came across it when I worked as a Waitress as it was one of the choices you could have on the cheeseboard. Since then I have actually met the man invented the cheese!  Blue cheese is my exception to my bread vs, cracker rule as I love blue cheese with a Hovis biscuit as the minerally, salty tang of the blue I think works well with the sweetness of the biscuit. I do obviously love a Stilton too but much prefer it when it is on the more fresher, lacticy side rather than ‘mushroomy’ as I call it.

Lastly, like Hayley I am also partial to Wensleydale with cranberries in! Although I do actually prefer it with white Stilton as I think it has a creamier eat.

L xx

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