5 cheese pairing ideas with Vaik Lucas, The CheeseWorks

09 January 2023, 15:18 PM
  • Vaik Lucas, general manager at The CheeseWorks in Cheltenham, shares what's on his dream cheeseboard with Speciality Food readers
5 cheese pairing ideas with Vaik Lucas, The CheeseWorks

What’s on your dream cheeseboard?
My dream cheeseboard is very likely to vary according to the season or even the year, but as of now, I would go for a hearty, rich and indulgent board.

I would start will a Selles-sur-Cher (a traditional French goat’s cheese), milky, sweet and nutty under the rind with beautiful citrussy aromas and the hint of acidity you’d expect. Next, I would choose a 24-month-old Comté, gloriously buttery in texture but nutty and slightly caramelly with some crunchy calcium lactate crystals, a real heart warmer.

Then I would go for a CheeseWorks Truffle Brie, we are very proud of this truffle Brie which we produce by hand in the shop.  It is a cheese which is the definition of decadence, extremely rich in flavour with a intense mushroomy, earthy hit but also a triple crème filling. Time to move onto Yarlington, an amazing collaboration between David Jowett and Oliver’s Cider both located near our shop in Cheltenham. This is a cheese washed in a wild fermented cider, the texture is gooey and oozy.

It is not too pungent, with great fruitiness and buttery quality to it. I would finish off with Stichelton a cheese which has been a revelation to me this winter. The use of raw milk makes a profound impact on the quality of flavour of Stichelton which is the true ‘ancestor’ of Stilton. It is firmer than most Stiltons but also more malty and herbaceous with mushroomy aromas under the rind.

What’s your all-time favourite cheese pairing?
It would be very tempting to jump straight to Stilton and Port, one of the greatest pairings of all time, or a Monbazillac (or Sauternes) with Roquefort.

I am absolutely mad for Truffle Wigmore.  This is a rich, milky and sweet sheep’s milk.  I fill the Wigmore with a small amount of truffle, less that I would use with a Brie de Meaux, this allows the original flavour of the Wigmore to hold its own. The pairing for this beauty would be Brut Bollinger Champagne or a very fizzy, Classic Cuvée from The Three Choirs Vineyards in Newent.

Any unusual pairings you’d recommend?
I had a chance encounter with a liqueur maker (Liqueurious) a few months back,  He came into the shop looking for help to pair his liqueurs with cheese.  The collaboration was a revelation for us both. He makes a variety of tea and coffee liqueurs. The pairing of Munster cheese and Ryokucha green tea liqueur was mind-blowing.

The kick from the liqueur is partially absorbed by the richness and sweetness of the Munster and allows the cheese to develop some fantastic fresh, grassy undertones that are not normally part of its profile.

What do you love to drink with cheese?
If it hadn’t transpired in my response to the previous question, as a French native I would never find anything that gives me the satisfaction that I get from wine paired with cheese. However, I would add the caveat that it does depend on the season and therefore the cheese that is available. Cheese and Port, Cheese and Beer or Cheese and Cider are also amazing experiences!

What must-have cheese kit would you recommend?
When I consider the accessories that you would always find in my cheese kit, I think it is important to start with a great set of cheese knives in order to fully appreciate each type of cheese at its best. A simple tool can make a big difference to your cheese tasting experience.

A nice board to display your cheese selection among crackers, chutney, and fruits (fresh and dry) is another crucial piece of cheese kit. Last, but by no means least, a Fondue Set is ESSENTIAL to fully compliment your cheese selection and make it through the coldest days of the year.

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