Jamie shares his favourite cheeseboard tips, and takes advice from expert cheesemonger Jason Hinds, of Neal’s Yard Dairy, on a truly British cheese selection.
- Go to town on the presentation. Use a nice big wooden board, a piece of granite, or even a little table to designate as your cheese area – this is a centrepiece that everyone will get excited about
- Number your cheeses with little flags to guide your guests, going from mild to strong – you need to start mild so you can actually taste each one as you go
- It’s also nice for your guests if you stick little names in the cheeses, so they know what they’re trying. This is a great job to give to the kids to keep them busy!
A BIT ON THE SIDE
- In terms of vehicles, I believe in keeping your bread, crackers, oatcakes or crispbreads simple, so you let the cheese do the talking
- When it comes to condiments, most seasonal fruits complement cheese really well – try apples, pears, clementines, grapes, fresh figs, or even dried raisins or dates
- Quince membrillo or fruit cheeses such as Damson cheese, which are native to the UK, pair up with cheese a treat – but if you don’t have these, just raid the cupboard! Chutneys, marmalades, jams, pickles and preserves can all serve you well. On the jam front, anything that grows in our hedgerows, such as gooseberry, is particularly good
KEEPING YOUR CHEESE HAPPY
- Chilling cheese in the fridge reduces its flavour, so if you’ve got a room that isn’t centrally heated, store it in there so it’s cool but not cold
- Cheese is happiest wrapped in greaseproof paper, or even tin foil, so unpack and re-wrap it once you get home if you need to
- You absolutely want to enjoy your cheeses at room temperature, but don’t put them in a room that’s too hot for too long before serving or you risk them drying out – covering them with a slightly damp tea towel will help
JASON HINDS’ GREAT BRITISH CHEESEBOARD
1. Appleby’s Cheshire – the youngest of the board, this Cheshire is fresh, lactic and lemony, perfect for opening up the palate before you get assaulted by the others!
2. Sparkenhoe Red Leicester – slightly more savoury with more creaminess and some caramelly notes, this is actually the last farmhouse version of this cheese being made
3. Kirkham’s Lancashire – this is a curveball and the hard cheese that Jason eats most. What’s special about this savoury, meaty variety is that it’s actually aged for about 10 months or more
4. Montgomery’s Cheddar – Cheddar is the most consumed cheese on the planet, but there are only three varieties that are authentically made in Somerset (this is one of them)
5. Colston Bassett Stilton – this is a really good, more mellow, creamier Stilton. If you close your eyes, you might not even know you’re eating a blue cheese, so it’s perfect for all palates
6. Baron Bigod – made on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, Jason thinks the producers of this creamy soft Brie-style cheese are game-changers
Check out Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook for many more clever tips on how to entertain in style this year. For more cheese inspiration check out nealsyarddairy.co.uk as well as our huge selection of cheese-centric recipes.