Salopettes, steaming mugs of hot chocolate and the Russian army are three things that have put in some of their best work at lower temperatures. Although often at home within the cold confines of a fridge, cheese can’t truly count itself among these aforementioned champions of chill.
Christmas is a grand stage, and as with many a big-game player, it is necessary that your cheeses undergo a suitable warm-up in order to put in a memorable performance. For it is entirely possible to hamstring your Hafod, limit your Livarot or restrict your Reblochon by skipping this crucial step. Simply put, if your cheese is still cold when it reaches the dining table, its flavour will be inhibited and you will deprive yourself of the full depth and breadth of tastes and textures.
So, to allow your cheeses to show off their full capabilities this Christmas, it’s important to remove them from the fridge, and their wrapping, one to two hours before serving.
However! Once your cheese has warmed up, nothing will cause it more disappointment than being banished once more to the fridge. In fact, your cheese will respond poorly to changes in temperature. So if you are planning to enjoy your cheeseboard after Christmas lunch and supper, here is what your should do.
Keep the cheeses fresh as daisies by covering the entire board with a clean, wet tea-towel that has been rung out so that it is slightly damp.
This will prevent the air drying out the cheeses. Then the cheeseboard should remain covered between lunch and supper in an unheated room, waiting for its next entrance.
Most cheeses will have a variety of textures and flavours throughout. Take this cut of Bath Soft as an example. You can see that the texture of the paste near the rind is quite oozy, whereas there is a much more solid appearance to the centre of the cheese.
When you have a cut from a large wheel of hard cheese, as with this cut of Comté, the variety in texture may be less pronounced, but the difference in flavour from the tip (or nose) to the base (near the rind) is well worth exploring.
Discovering the subtle differences throughout a cheese is all part of the pleasure in tasting. For this reason, we think it’s important that you and your guests enjoy the full experience by cutting your cheese in such a way that ensures each cut offers a taste of the edge, and the centre of the cheese.
For hints on cutting different shapes of cheese, Ruth (our Cheese Care Specialist) has provided a few tips in our Cheese Guide, which has been recreated in part below. Don’t worry though, all orders from us contain a copy of this guide, so you’ll be able to read this and other pearls of wisdom when you receive your order.
Cut round cheeses like Tunworth and Camembert de Normandie as you would a cake.
Cut wedges from the centre of a pyramid such as Sinodun Hill or Pouligny St. Pierre like this:
Cut square cheeses such as Bath Soft like this:
Baby Stilton and Cheddar Truckles
You can serve a Baby Stilton and Cheddar Truckle by removing a thin ‛lid’ from the top of the cheese, then cutting out small wedges – continue cutting around until you have removed a layer.
Then, start on the next layer and continue until you get to the bottom, helter-skelter fashion.
Vacherin Mont d’Or and Mozzarella di Bufala
Vacherin Mont d’Or and Mozzarella di Bufala are the exceptions. Don’t attempt to cut these cheeses.
Vacherin Mont d’Or
Just dive in with a spoon, scoop it out and savour every mouthful of this luscious cheese.
Mozzarella di Bufala
Tear the precious ball of cheese with your hands, making sure that everyone gets a piece that includes the pearly white outside and the moist interior.