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Create The Ultimate Cheese Board This Christmas

Toast's guide to creating your own magical cheesy experience this Christmas!

Nothing says Christmas like a ginormous, delicious cheese board to share with family and friends. Here TOAST chats to some of the UK’s leading cheese-mongers to get their top tips on this years most fabulous fromages and what to serve with them, plus we take a look at some brie-liant cheese accessories too…



Cheese glorious cheese! Cheddar, Brie and Mont D’or! There are fewer more wonderful sights at Christmas (or anytime of the year for that matter…) than a beautiful board laden with a colourful selection of tempting cheeses and all the delightful trimmings, presented with gusto to a table of salivating guests!

Christmas is of course a brilliant time for cheese – not just because it’s a huge treat and Christmas is obviously a time for (over) indulgence…but a cheese board is simply a wonderful thing for sharing with guests. And of course we all know what leftover cheese goes well with…leftover ham and turkey of course! Nothing quite beats that Boxing Day spread.

Today the selection of cheeses available in the UK is so vast that much like wine it can be a bit intimidating, and so more often than not we end up sticking to what we know. So for this year, we thought we’d have had a chat with a few cheese experts* and get their top tips on all the cheeses and all the trimmings that we could use to build the ultimate cheeseboard this Christmas, as well as taking a look at some of the best cheese accessories out there (that also double up as gorgeous foodie gifts) so why not pull up a chair, and listen Caerphilly… (*dream job)

INSPIRE ME: TOP CHEESE THIS CHRISTMAS

BEAUTIFUL BOARDS

If you’re going all out with your cheese selection then you’ll need a beautiful board to present it on. Anthropologie have a stunning selection of cheese boards this year – from the elegant ‘Nina’ made from white marble with beautiful shell and brass detailing, to the more playful ‘Don’t Mind If I Do’ and ‘Merci’ cheeseboards – both made from luxurious hard carved marble complete with stylish brass lettering. We also love their quirky, art deco style Quinten cheese board too, made from a mixture of sumptuous materials including agate, wood, marble and brass.

Anthropologie Dont Mind If I Do Edited 1

Nina £58, Don’t Mind If I Do £98, Merci £58, Quinten £128 - all available from Anthropologie.

For a twist on a traditional wooden board then how about John Lewis’ Boska Ash Wood Bark Cheeseboard made from ash wood with a bark edge? This striking board oozes rustic charm and would look lovely surrounded by festive foliage and berries. Or if you’re after the elegance of traditional slate (which also keeps your cheese cool too) you can’t go wrong with Irish family business Slated’s selection of beautifully designed boards, placed mats and starter plates that all work perfectly for cheese.

John Lewis

Boska Ash Wood Bark Cheeseboard from £20, available from John Lewis.

Slated Cheese Board

Slated

Slated heart £43, round £43, copper edge £30, starter plates £23 for 2 all available from Slated.

NIFTY KNIVES

Yes a handful of normal knives from the kitchen drawer will do, but it’s Christmas! And a set of stylish cheese knives will take your beautiful cheese offering to the next level. This year is all about adding a splash of colour to the table; luxury department store Liberty has recently collaborated with Anthropologie on a range of items including this very gorgeous set of cheese knives decorated in Liberty’s distinctive heritage prints.

Anthropologie Knives

£36 for a set of 4, from Anthropologie.

One of the world’s top cheesemongers Paxton & Whitfield have also created a lovely set of cheese knives made by by Claude Dozorme, the famous French Laguiole knife maker. These top of the range blades come with eight vibrantly coloured handles to choose from – pick your favourite or why not mix and match and add some sparkling French style to your board?

Paxton Whitfield Coloured

£21 each from Paxton & Whitfield.

For rustic chic then Home and Glory’s Gorgeous decorative cheese knives are a must.

Made from beautiful hammered brass and a unique hand carved wood handle, this lovely set comprises of a butter and two cheese knives and comes in a pretty box too, making it a great foodie gift. Or, for a glitzy, on-trend touch why not add Forest and Co’s gorgeous set of gold pineapple cheese knives to your spread of festive fromage? The bright gold handles give a luxurious feel that is perfect for Christmas, whilst the pineapple trend seems to be enduringly popular!

Nifty Knives Home Glory

Each set is £36, from The Forest and Co (On the left) - Each set is £20, from Home & Glory (On the right)

FABULOUS FROMAGE

Winston Churchill once observed "a Gentleman only buys his cheese at Paxton & Whitfield" and today the award-winning Paxton & Whitfield is still considered one of the finest cheesemongers in the land, and even has a Royal warrant to prove it.

The cheeseboard will always to be an integral part of Christmas tradition - for some it is a treat reserved for the festive period. I believe for many the ritual of sharing cheese is somehow intimate, and after a heavy Christmas lunch there is nothing more satisfying than sharing and discussing fine cheeses with the ones you love” explains Frances Sterry, manager of Paxton & Whitfield's Cale Street shop, Chelsea Green.

I don’t think you can beat a classic Stilton at Christmas. Our Stilton is made by the Cropwell Bishop Creamery, Nottinghamshire, and is at its best during the winter months because it is made with lush summer milk. It is full of flavour, rich, creamy and the blueing is perfectly balanced. If you only have Stilton once a year, make sure it is at Christmas!” she enthuses.

For another cheese I’d recommend Mont d’Or. As a seasonal cheese it is only available from late August to March, but it is at it’s best in December and January. At room temperature it is like a fondue, unctuous and decadent!”

Paxton Whitfield

There’s no doubt we all love a Stilton or a good cheddar but Tony Chuck, manager of cheese specialists The Teddington Cheese (who sell over a whopping 130 cheese in store and online), is encouraging us to mix things up a bit this year…

With the busy lives we all lead, Christmas is a time when we can stop and enjoy the pleasure of being with our close family and friends. Sharing food together is a key part of this pleasure and a well-chosen cheeseboard is sure to be a crowd pleaser” explains Tony.

We find that at Christmas our customers want to have a cheeseboard that mixes traditional must-haves with something to surprise and delight guests. There is something very sociable about everyone being able to help themselves to their favourites, or make a new discovery” he adds.

This year I’d recommend a Cirone – a three and half year old Swiss gruyere style cheese that has a sophisticated, nutty flavour that develops in the mouth and Cremet – a delicate goat’s cheese from Devon enriched with double cream - a real Christmassy indulgence! Another fun one for Christmas is Bufala affinato al Glera which is a hard buffalo cheese with a subtle flavour, marinated in the marc of the Italian glera grape, which is used to make Prosecco!”

Christmas Selection Teddington Cheese

For more information and to order online visit Paxton and Whitfield and The Teddington Cheese in TOAST's Little Black Book.

CHEESEY TRIMMINGS

Much like a roast there are certain trimmings that one might expect to serve with cheese; grapes, crackers, maybe a drizzle of honey if you’re feeling adventurous.

I prefer to keep my Christmas cheeseboard relatively simple - the best accompaniments merely assist the cheese, never overpower them. You can never go wrong with fresh fruit on a cheeseboard. If nothing else grapes and apples are a great palate cleanser” explains Paxton & Whitfield’s Frances Sterry.

But at Christmas I especially like our Spiced Plum Chutney with a blue cheese or farmhouse Cheddar, sweet and slightly spiced it perfectly complements a strong sharp cheese. With a more delicate cheese like goats’ cheese, I love to pair this with Quince Cheese and Charcoal Crackers

Tony Chuck of Teddington Cheese also has his favourites when it comes to what to serve with your fabulous festive fromage.

Honey is great for providing a sweetness to contrast with the saltiness of the blue cheese to go with blue cheese, especially our famous scooping gorgonzola!” he enthuses.

I always prefer biscuits that are happy to play a supporting role to the cheese and don’t try to be the star of the show. My favourites include wheat wafers, oatcakes and charcoal wafers as their dark colour provides an interesting contrast to the cheese” he adds.

Finally figs, much like honey, provide a sweetness to compliment the cheese, and can be served either in concentrated puree format or as intensely flavoured baked fig balls!”

Paxton Whittfield Trimmings

A FABULOUS FINISHING TOUCH

From a creamy to a blue, stinky to a smoked – sometimes you don’t know what to expect from a cheese until you’ve tasted it, so why not help your guests navigate your cheese board with these gorgeous cheese markers from Anthropologie? Not only are they incredibly helpful, but they add instant style to any cheesy spread.

Anthro Cheese

£26 for a set of 6 from Anthropologie.


For more thought-provoking gifts and ideas this Christmas, head over to TheEDIT and get inspired by the latest trends!

 

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