We're going to be highlighting a few cheeseboards over the coming weeks, to give you a little inspiration on the cheeses that could grace your festive table this holiday season.
Our third cheeseboard showcases some of the fantastic new cheeses that have been created in recent years, from new takes on traditional styles to the truly wild and wonderful!
Cows, raw, traditional rennet, Belp, Switzerland.
Liberally crusted with alpine herbs and wild flowers, this is one pretty cheese. Made in the style of Alp Blossom - relatively new itself - Bergwiese takes the historic technique of encrusting a cheese to add flavour and pairs it with the Glauser family's extraordinary cheesemaking skills. The result is as surprising as it is fabulous!
Whilst you may expect sweet, floral or vegetal flavours to dominate, the aroma that hits you on opening this cheese is the clue to the flavours it will deliver: big, bold beefiness by the bucketload (say that ten times...) Full of umami depth with herbaceous, earthy top notes from the herbs and flowers on the rind. Opt for something crisp and clean to cut through the heavy richness of those savoury flavours and bring out the greenery; a high-altitude Pinot Grigio, with it's edge of minerality. With so many flavours going on, a relatively simple accompaniment is ideal, sticky Red Onion Marmalade or sweet/sharp Morello Cherry Jam.
Cows, raw, traditional rennet, Chedworth, Gloucestershire.
Lockdown posed many challenges to cheesemakers, especially those who specialised in making soft, young cheeses. The team at King Stone Dairy found themselves with a surplus of milk and not enough outlets for their existing stable of cheeses, so set about creating something that they could mature for longer, riding out the pandemic. This take on French Morbier is the result.
Soft to semi-soft with a wonderfully sticky rind, the striking line of vegetable ash through the middle often smears across the paste when cutting - a sign of real ash, rather than dye. Flavours are slightly pungent, with milky notes coming through and a pronounced hazelnut finish.
White with a body is called for here - if you can get something close to a vin Jaune, (the typical wine of the Jura, where Ashcombe's inspiration is usually found) it should work well. Look for accompaniments that will bring out the nutty flavours of the cheese; try rye or spelt crackers, or oatcakes.
Cows, pasturised, vegetarian, Horsington, Somerset.
When Marcus Ferguson first set out to make cheese, his aim was to create something delicate and gentle. After his now-famous Renegade Monk hit the market, he quickly gained a reputation for delivering cheeses that were powerful in every way - but his latest creation, Gert Lush, with it's mysterious, mustachio'd gentleman on the label, harks back to those early dreams.
Looking like a camembert, Lush is actually closer to a St Marcellain - the tiny, incredibly delicate little french cheeses from the Auvergne. The bloomy rind is thinner than a camembert and the cheese has an intriguing buttered-cabbage note (trust me, it's nicer than it sounds!). There's still a subtle hint of the ale-washed funk of Renegade Monk hovering in the background, but it's a quiet supporting act that lets Gert Lush shine.
Equally at home with light Rhône reds or even drier sweet whites. I love baking this in a dish lined with bay leaves, served bubbling with crunchy crispbreads to dunk.
Cows, raw, vegetarian, Pylle, Somerset.
Cow's, pasturised, vegetarian, Cropwell Bishop, Nottinghamshire.
VWhat happens if you give a Stilton maker the recipe for Gorgonzola? They create a superstar! Not exactly new, but too good to miss out of this board, Beauvale always gives our legendary Gorgonzola a run for it's money.
Very rich, with a savoury note that enhances, rather than masks the welcome sharpness of the blue. The rind - so thin it's almost nonexistent - none-the-less manages to bring a mushroomy earthiness to the table.
Punchy reds mask the subtleties of this blue - sweeter whites work best, especially with a little sparkle. Try Reisling or Gewurztraminer. Sweeter accompaniments are good too, Pear and Walnut Chutney is always a favourite with blues, but Caramelised Tomato and Onion Relish adds a more complex note.