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Cheese glorious cheese

How to put together the perfectly balanced cheese board, by our resident cheese expert Hugh.

Whether it follows your dinner, you slice it for sandwiches or you eat it for breakfast, there is always a place for cheese. Creating the perfect cheese board can be difficult though, as there is so much to choose from and lots to consider.

When choosing your cheeses, I would suggest a balanced selection of varying textures and tastes. This could include a hard cheese, a blue cheese, a soft cheese and a goat’s or sheep’s cheese.

Cheddar is a crowd-pleaser in the hard cheese category, but think about how mature you like it. For something mild and creamy I would opt for Wookey Hole Cheddar, but if you prefer it strong then I would suggest the Montgomery Cheddar.

For blue cheese, a classic is the Colston Basset Stilton, but you could go for something a little different like a Gorgonzola Dolce – a runny and sweet Italian blue cheese.

Every cheese board should also include a soft cheese, which of course needs to be ripe. Personally, I would choose the local and buttery Bowyer’s Brie, but you could go for a washed rind cheese like the Burwash Rose from Sussex. This is unusual as it’s washed in rose water, giving it a flowery, aromatic flavour.

When it comes to goat’s cheese, there are traditionally two types to choose from –  soft and delicate or hard and mature. I think the Fremlins Goat Log from Faversham is in a league of its own in the former category. It has fresh, light and zesty notes, and is exactly what I expect from a superb goat’s cheese!  If you’re not a fan of young goat’s cheese, then a mature goat’s gouda would also work… adding some much needed hardness to your board.

As an alternative to goat’s cheese, the Pecorino Fresco Verde is a semi-hard sheep’s cheese pickled in olive oil and covered in herbs that would also compliment the other cheeses.

Don’t forget that serving the perfect cheese board isn’t just about what you choose – it’s how you look after it. Cheese needs to breathe, so make sure you wrap it in wax-coated or grease proof paper and store it somewhere cool. Cheese is however tastiest when it’s served at room temperature, so make sure you take it out with a few hours to spare!

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