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Amongst the abundant feasting of the festive season, your Christmas cheeseboard is the perfect moment for an impressive display and bold flavours. Even though Christmas celebrations may be smaller this year, large pieces of cheese will last right through to New Year if they are well stored, carefully wrapped in waxed paper to prevent drying out.
Stilton is of course a Christmas classic - a truckle of Colston Bassett Stilton creates a magnificent buttery centrepiece to any holiday cheeseboard or Boxing Day buffet. Stilton made with the milk of lush summer grazing is skilfully ripened for 12 weeks to taste its very best under the mistletoe. For the ultimate Christmas treat, enjoy a crumbling of Stilton on top of a mince pie. The rich fruitiness and warm spices of mincemeat work beautifully with the creamy paste and fruity blue veins of Colston Bassett Stilton. It is also great alongside a slice of traditional Christmas cake.
For an interesting washed rind cheese, Renegade Monk is a star choice. Reminiscent of a pungent Époisses or Langres, Renegade Monk was winner of this year’s Virtual Cheese Awards in July. Marcus Fergusson makes it on his family smallholding in Wincanton, Somerset and started making this unique hybrid cheese in 2016. Soft in texture and washed in local ale, Renegade Monk also contains blue cultures that lightly develop within each cheese. Like all washed rind cheeses, Renegade Monk packs a punch with its aroma but its complex taste is milder and sweeter particularly around the finish. Washed rind cheeses should be individually wrapped in the fridge to prevent their aroma permeating more delicate cheeses, and a separate knife used on the cheeseboard.
Our local Suffolk Brie-style Baron Bigod is a fabulously indulgent Christmas cheese. At Fen Farm Dairy just outside Bungay, Baron Bigod is made from the raw milk of the farm’s Montbéliarde cows. Full of farmyard earthiness and mushroom notes, the intensely creamy texture of Baron Bigod is an exquisite match for the refreshing bubbles of a dry sparkling wine such as Black Chalk Classic, a Chardonnay-dominated sparkling wine made in Hampshire. Winter-made Baron Bigod cheese tends to have less of the firmer yoghurty centre found in summer cheeses. Well warmed in front of a cosy winter fire, you’ll find Baron oozing off your Christmas cheeseboard and tasting a delight on Peter’s Yard sourdough crispbreads with a spoonful of chilli jam. Take it to the next level with some Fen Farm’s limited edition Truffle Baron Bigod or bake a Baby Baron with rosemary and garlic cloves to create an instant fondue!
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