A cheese board including a tasty Davidstow cheddar is a great focal point for the end of a meal, when conversation turns convivial and the world is set to rights.
There are many ways to enjoy a meal: from being creative in the kitchen, the anticipation of eating delicious food, convivial conversation with friends and family or the relaxing time at the end of a meal, when you nibble cheese and set the world to rights. I come from a family of cheese lovers, and rare is the lunch which we don’t finish with cheese, often accompanied by a crisp apple, and mull over the news.
The great thing about a cheeseboard is that there is such a huge range of textures and flavours available that you can offer everybody something they will enjoy. British cheese is undergoing such a renaissance at the moment that it’s easy find more adventurous selections as well as the tried and tested.
The starting point: the cheese
When creating my cheeseboard, I start with the foundations: the cheese. A classic rich, nutty cheddar is a great first choice. Davidstow have two suitable offerings; their 18 month extra mature (which is available from Tesco Extra, Sainsburys, Asda, Morrisons and Ocado), and a 3 year vintage reserve (only available from Ocado). The 18 month old is intensely flavoured, flinty, with naturally occurring calcium crystals giving a hint of crunch to each bite. The 3 year old builds on this, with a long lasting flavour and memorable creaminess. Davidstow have been making cheddar in the Cornish village of the same name for over 60 years.
I like to contrast the strongly flavoured cheddar with a soft goats milk cheese; fresh, delicate and ready to spread on a biscuit. Then, my third cheese choice is commonly a blue of one form or another; a good Stilton or something a little less known such as Shropshire blue, where the rich orange cheese contrasts so well with the blue. I don’t like to go mad on the number of cheeses offered; I think that three well chosen cheeses is a much better plan than a board overwhelmed with undefined blandness.
Next: biscuits and crackers
Not all cheese needs a biscuit, but I do like to offer a couple of choices: a crisp, thin flatbread of some sort, as well as a more traditional cracker or cheese biscuit. I have to admit that I can take or leave water biscuits; I find them just a little too bland for my taste, but there’s great variety of flavourful biscuits available if you just venture away from you usual choice. Or, if you want something different, how about some walnut bread?
Finally, the trimmings: fruit, chutney and nuts
I also enliven the board with a few extras: some nuts – walnuts, brazils, and hazelnuts, but make sure they’re fresh – it makes all the difference. And don’t forget the nutcracker! A selection of fruit can work well, from traditional grapes, or maybe some ripe figs to one of my favourites, a really good British eating apple – a russet, say, for the nutty flavour. Dried fruit as well – dates only ever seem to come out at Christmas, which is a great shame given how delicious they are.
Chutney and cheese are another great combination; again, there can be too much of a good thing, so small dishes of one or two chutneys is, in my view, all that’s needed. How about one fruit based, and one onion based? A fig chutney, for example, goes very well with blue cheeses, and a sweet fruity chutney contrasts nicely with the Davidstow. One thing that I only see occasionally is quince cheese, a rich smooth jelly that adds a real touch of luxury.
A cheeseboard is the perfect way to end a meal; traditionally, the French eat cheese after their main course and before dessert, but this means that they miss out on those afternoons or evenings of comfortable chat, fuelled with morsels of cheese (most cut on a “I’ll just level this up a bit” basis). The next time you’re sitting down with family or friends, why not spend a bit more time assembling your cheeseboard, showcase some great produce and enjoy the company.
- 1 wedge Good Cheddar (We used Davidstow)
- 1 piece Soft Cheese (Goat, or Brie)
- 1 wedge Blue Cheese (Stilton or Shropshire Blue)
- 1 wedge Red Leicester or other similarly coloured cheese for contrast
- 10 Oatcakes
- 10 Rye Crackers
- 4 slices walnut bread
- 3 bowls Chutney (Apple, Fig or Onion Marlalade)
- 1 bowl Mixed nuts (don't forget the nut crackers)
- Dried fruit (Dates and figs are especially good)
- 1 bunch grapes (chilled from the fridge)
Allow the cheese to come to room temperature before serving.
Arrange on a cheeseboard and enjoy
This post was sponsored by Davidstow Cheddar. All opinions are our own