At a time when our usual routines have been compromised, it’s important to focus on the moments and traditions that make us feel good – injecting some comfort and familiarity into our lives.
With this in mind, we couldn’t think of a better time to celebrate one of our favourite culinary rituals – the cheeseboard. Visually-pleasing, indulgent and an excellent conversation-starter – a slowly savoured cheeseboard can bring moments of simple pleasure to many of us up and down the country during this period of isolation.
Over the next few weeks, we’re inviting you to join us in creating your own #cheeseboardmoments from home – offering a selection of our crispbread and one “Ultimate Pong Box” as a prize to the person who submits the best photo.*
Selecting your cheese
It may be hard to get hold of a wide range of cheeses, especially as we should all be going to the shops as little as possible. Fortunately, ‘less is more’ applies to the best cheeseboards. Cheese writer Patrick McGuigan says, “I think having one whacking big bit of cheese on the table makes a real statement”. This approach really heroes the cheese and you can always add interest with your accompaniments.
We would recommend no more than 3 or 4 cheeses. If you’re opting for more than one piece, create a balance of textures by having at least one hard and one soft cheese. You can also explore different milk types and shapes for variety. Decipher the flavour profiles, considering the taste and strength of the cheeses so that you have a good combination of fresh, light, tangy, creamy, earthy, salty, strong. Most importantly, be sure to select cheeses that suit your preferences.
Don’t forget that lots of independent cheesemongers are now offering online delivery across the UK and it’s a great time to support them – a few of our friends who are doing this include; L’Affinage, Cheese Shed, Pong Cheese and The Cheese Geek.
When opting for garnishes for your cheeseboard – there’s more to life than chutney. Of course, that’s easier said than done during times like these – but we want to reassure you that you can still find other creative accompaniments in your food cupboards.
For an element of sweetness, opt for dried or fresh fruit such as dates, figs, apples or pears. Fruit cake and honey both work nicely too – be bold and experiment!
Nuts also bring balance and texture – try walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts with an aged cheese. A nut brittle is also an interesting pairing for something like a Comte or Gouda, bringing sweetness and texture.
Lots of us will have jars of pickles in our cupboards. Try cornichons or gherkins with pungent cheeses, pickled onions with a Cheddar and something like pickled cabbage with a soft cheese like Brie, Camembert or a goat’s log. The acidity will cut through the creaminess of this style of cheese.
Finally, make sure you’ve got some crispbread! Subtly flavoured, light and crisp, our crispbread is designed to complement rather than compete with the flavour of the cheese and it provides a great alternative to fresh bread in these times. For more guidance on how best to match your Peter’s Yard crispbread with your chosen cheeses – download our ‘Cheese Pairing Wheel’, located on the right of this journal.
Whatever you decide on, be creative with your pairings and remember – there are no rules when it comes to creating your perfect cheeseboard.
How to taste cheese
The process of smelling your cheese can often be overlooked but you can taste more with your nose than you can with your tongue. The aroma and flavour of the cheese is informed by so many factors – from milk type to the length of time it is aged for. As a natural product, a particular cheese can even vary depending on the time of year it is made and whether the animals were grazing on grass or hay.
Being able to describe your cheese helps enhance the experience, as well as identifying what characteristics you most enjoy in cheese – look out for flavour notes such as buttery, nutty, herbaceous, toasty, spicy, grassy, pungent, earthy, citric and sweet.
We look forward to seeing all of your creations over the next few weeks. Don’t forget to share your #cheeseboardmoments with us.
** A winner for the competition will be selected on 11th May 2020 – please visit our terms and conditions here for the full details.