Christmas is undoubtedly the highlight of any cheese fans calendar; littered with prime opportunities to consume kilos of the pungent treat.
Last month I wrote about a life changing cheese experience I had at La Cave a Fromage, a cheese shop and tasting café in Brighton (and Kensington). In short, La Cave a Fromage supplies cheese to 95% of the UK’s Michelin star restaurants, and its Brighton shop stocks around 300 cheeses at any one time. So, you can see that they know the cheese from their chalk.
Don’t buy your festive cheese before you’ve read Brighton’s La Cave a Fromage manager David Deaves guidance and advice on arranging the ultimate Christmas cheeseboard.
Caring and serving of cheese
Remember cheese keeps at its best when whole, so unless you are buying whole cheese it’s best to eat it as soon as possible. There a few hard and fast rules, but here are a few to enable you to eat your cheese at its best.
The waxed paper which we wrap our cheese in does a great job in keeping the cheese in the right condition. It helps the cheese to breathe and not dry out to quickly. Cling film, if used for a length of time allow moisture to build up and encourages moulds to grow.
To serve your cheese we suggest that you remove the cheese from the fridge at least a couple of hours before serving, which allows the cheese to reach room temperature, which release the flavours.
We suggest you serve plain cheese biscuits such as rye crisp breads, oat cakes or fruit bread like fig and almond. Many cheeses are complemented by honeys, fruit cakes and wine comfits. Bloomy rind cheeses such as bath soft work well with truffle honey, quince goes well with hard cheese like Lord of the Hundreds, fig and almond or date and almond cake goes well with blues as well as wine confits.
The balanced Cheeseboard is down to personal choice but, here at “La Cave”, we are on hand to offer you expert advice and guide you on selecting the perfect cheeseboard for Christmas.
There are six members of the cheese family – Goats/Fresh, Bloomy, Semi Hard, Hard, Washed Rind and Blue. We suggest having a little of each to suit all palates.
Mont d’Or AOC
This is a wonderful seasonal cheese (October - March)
Mont d’Or is from Franche-Comte and made from unpasteurized cow’s milk, ultra creamy with the smell and taste of wood resin and mountain flowers. Baked with garlic and white wine and served with crusty bread and Charcuterie it is the ideal Christmas Eve supper.
Christmas Day Cheeseboard
Sainte-Maure de Touraine AOC (Fresh/Goat):
This pasteurized goat’s milk, from the Alpine and Saanen goats, is from Central France and has a long history dating back to the 8th Century and matured between 10-28 days. The cheese itself, when young, is moist and grainy with a slight lemony note. As it matures it becomes smooth and creamy with an aromatic full taste that balances flavours of salt and nut.
Bath Soft (Bloomy Rind):
This pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the South West of England is matured between 4 and 6 weeks. The recipe dates back to the time of Admiral Lord Nelson but has been made in the present form since 1993. This cheese is reminiscent to mild Brie – soft and creamy, with a slight tart and salty finish and a note of mushroom on the rind.
This cheese is complimented by a drizzle of truffle honey.
Lancashire Bomb (Semi-Hard):
This cheese hails from the North West of England and uses the traditional method of making Lancashire cheese, using unpasteurized cow’s milk and taking the curds from three separate days to create the cheese and then dipped into black wax and matured for 30 months. This cheese has a deep yellow coloured paste and is ripe, rich and strong - slightly crumbly with a sharp, fresh, salty taste with a pleasant spicy tang.
Comté AOC Grand Reserve (Hard):
This ancient French cheese has been made in small cooperative dairies, or fruitières, for over 6 centuries. This system has preserved the tradition and techniques that help to ensure Comté continues to be one of Frances most popular cheeses. Matured for a minimum of 24 months, this cheese has a close, supple and slightly granular texture and complex flavours with nutty and salty notes on the finish.
Langres AOC “La Cave” (Washed Rind):
Langres resembles Epoisse de Bourgogne and is from the Champagne region of France. This cheese is washed in annatto which gives it its distinctive orange rind and is matured for a minimum of 25 days. A strong nose with a penetrating bouquet, this cheese tastes a little spicy when young. La Cave washes and fills up the fountain with Marc de Bourgogne which gives the cheese a fruity alcoholic taste.
Stilton and Port “La Cave” (Blue Cheese):
The king of British cheeses and Christmas would not be Christmas without Stilton.
Stilton has PDO status and can only be produced in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire and there are only seven dairies licensed to produce Stilton. This cheese, created specially by “La Cave a Fromage”, is soaked in the finest port for one month. As the cheese absorbs the fruity flavours of the port, the paste softens and the alcohol compliments the rich, creamy texture. The cheese has a strong and powerful aroma but it’s flavour is unique and complex – at once creamy, fruity, spicy and salty with a powerful aftertaste.
From Italy using the loin of Venison and seasoned with juniper and spices then smoked over oak, which gives it delicate smoky and spicy notes.
Pork salami with a delicate hit of summer truffle infused throughout the salami.
Argentinean beef sirloin cured in Italy. The sirloin is slightly seasoned with peppercorn and cinnamon and then air dried the band of fat keeps the beef moist. Slice thinly its perfect for Carpaccio.
Trealy Farm Beech Smoked Ham
Using local pork chump from Monmouthshire which is salted and rubbed with rosemary and then smoked over beech wood chippings and air dried for 2 months, which give this award winning ham a delicate flavour.
A typical dish of the city of Piacenza, Italy.
Coppa is traditionally Italian dry cured pork shoulder or neck, it is slightly seasoned, often with red wine, garlic and herbs, salted the stuffed into a natural casing and hung for up to 6 months.
“La Cave” Coppa is from the Pyrénées in France and has the particularity to be washed with Vic Bilh white wine.
Reserve your festive cheese board now by contacting:
34-35 Western Road
Tel: 01273 725500