Our selection of the very finest artisanal British cheeses for this year’s Christmas platter.
With the right combinations of first-class produce, a Christmas cheeseboard can become the star of the show rather than afterthought for those who remain peckish. The secret is finding the perfect balance varying styles, flavours and textures, while following a few simple rules.
Firstly, as every committed turophiles (professional cheese lovers to you and me) will tell you, diners should begin a cheeseboard with goat’s cheese, which is ideal for cleansing the palate, and only move to the heavy-hitting hard blues such as Stilton last of all.
Secondly, when assembling a cheeseboard experts recommend pairing at least one example of a hard, soft and blue cheese, but also caution against overloading your platter – anymore than five different cheese varieties risks swamping the palate. Take your cheese out the fridge at least an hour before serving to ensure it reaches room temperature for maximum flavour.
Finally, take a good look through Maws’ recommendations below, as we select some of our absolute favourite award-winning British cheeses from 2019, each one almost certain to deliver a festive cheer of appreciation.
Chillies Farm: Willow Goat Cheese
Chillies farm in Sussex is a goat’s paradise, where a happy, high-welfare milk herd is even allowed to rear it’s own young, allowing them to remain naturally calm and contented, for the price of a little less yield. What they create is a wonderfully fresh and tangy cheese set in a rind as soft and white as kid’s skin that couldn’t be better for opening your cheeseboard.
Rosary Goat’s Cheese: Rosary Ash
The tradition of ash-covering cheese goes back to times when precious milk curds were preserved overnight underneath a layer of ash. However the method continues today thanks to the added benefit of ash forming a barrier that prevents excess acidity while the cheese ripens. This creates wonderfully creamy cheese, as demonstrated by Rosary Ash. Made by a small dairy in the New Forest, this sublime goat’s cheese has a natural hint of fresh lemon and a clean, creamy aftertaste. Moist and velvety, this cheese has a texture so light it’s almost reminiscent of mousse.
Allsop & Walker: Sussex Truffle Brie, Lord London
For pure festive extravagance you’ll be hard pushed to beat Alsop & Walkers’ Sussex Truffle Brie. A treat for special occasions this sumptuous, naturally rinded cheese is produced in East Sussex using locally sourced full fat cows milk with a creamy sandwich filling of Italian Black Truffles and Porcinci mushrooms, to creaty a highly aromatic, earthily flavoured confection that’s also suitable for vegetarians.
Alsop & Walker have also confected the equally delectable Lord London, a unique semi-soft bell-shaped cows' cheese that won a bronze medal winner at the World Cheese Awards thanks to delivering a clean citrus taste that perfectly balances this Camembert-style cheese’s deep natural creaminess. Wonderful with a glass of Christmas fizz.
Winterdale Cheesemakers: Winterdale Shaw
Two important factors synthesise to give Winterdale Shaw its unique flavour and texture. Firstly this award-winning hard cheese, made in Kent, uses unpasteurised milk from the dairy’s own herd of Friesian cows. Secondly, once made these cloth-bound cheeses are cellar matured for up to 10 months in a cave cut from the chalk flanks of the North Downs. This ancient technique still offers the best method for ageing cheese, creates the optimum temperature and humidity levels for the ripening process, creating a hard cheese that’s compact yet melting in the mouth where it delivers a round and complex flavour across the palate.
Shorrocks: Blackwax Lancashire Bomb
Wax coating cheese not only improves the shelf life of hard cheeses, it helps to keep them moist as they mature, locking in and enhancing their flavour. Shorrocks are a family of cheesemakers who’ve been perfecting this traditional technique for generations on their Lancashire farm. No further proof of their expertise is needed than a wedge from their Lancashire Bomb, a classic cheddar, sealed in lustrous black wax, that delivers a true taste explosion.
Kingcott Dairy: Kentish Blue
Produced, at the Kingcott Dairy situated (unsurprisingly) in Kent this award-winner uses unpasteurised milk from Brown Swiss high-welfare cows. The heard has access to some of the county’s lushest pasture through spring, summer and autumn, which is crucial to delivering Kentish Blue (a natural mould-ripened cheese) so very special. The result is a full-flavoured blue cheese with long lasting depth and complex, spicy tones through the finish.
Alex James: Blue Monday No.2
Bassist from the iconic 90s pop band Blur, Alex James of Blur has been making music on the palate with Blue Monday No.2 is a British cow's milk cheese suitable for vegetarians. Based on Shropshire blue but produced in the style of a Gorgonzola Piccante, Blue Monday displays similar pleasing characteristics; bold veining scoring through a soft and creamy cheese that delivers a mellow sweetness harmonised with a steely, mineral tang.
High Weald Dairy: Sussex Marble Chilli
It’s true that ‘some like it hot’ even when it comes to their cheese board, and if the snow just happens to be lying deep and crisp and even this year, what could be better than a generous wedge of Sussex Marble Chilli produced my the much lauded High Weald Dairy. Created from their ever-popular semi-soft St Giles cheese (a creamy take on French classics like Saint Paulin and Port Salut), a beautiful marbling of fresh red chilli delivers a cheese with a mild buttery texture that betrays a burst of serious heat.
Blackwax Lancashire Bombs and Rosary Ash sold individually, all other cheeses sold per kg. for more information and to place an order get in touch on 01580 755390 or email email@example.com