There’s no doubt about it, Britain is a nation of cheese lovers. And not just that plastic slice that comes in your quarter pounder. Quite the opposite, in fact; we’re a discerning bunch and a country who currently produce some of the most revered cheeses around.
We don’t think we’re putting our neck on the line, under the cheese wire, when we say that a cheeseboard rarely disappoints us Brits. That said, it’s even ‘feta’ when this party favourite looks ‘gouda’ enough for Instagram. Sorry.
Anyway, let’s cracker on, with not another cheese pun for the rest of the article. We’ve asked Adam Woolven, Head Chef at the eco-friendly Island Grill, who created the 40-Mile Cheeseboard with four cheeses all sourced from within forty miles of the restaurant, to lend his 5 IDEAL tips on how to create an Instagram worthy cheeseboard.
MIX IT UP
Variety is the spice of life. So, ensure your cheeseboard has a mixture of textures (soft, hard, and crumbly), strengths and sources, such as cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s cheese. Include at least one soft cheese and one blue cheese.
Though cheddar, stilton and brie are the go-to cheeses for a board, they shouldn’t be the only choices. Just use their general characteristics are your starting point in seeking diversity. 80g per person should be enough for an after-dinner board and your cheeseboard should always be served at room temperature.
If you’re looking to make your cheeseboard appealing to the eye (and more Instagrammable, too), consider filling the board with a range of colours and shapes. Adding fresh and dried fruit to a cheeseboard is effortless but looks impressive, as well as adding a vibrant touch in the taste department.
In the spring and summer it’s best to add cherries and berries whereas in the winter you should go for dried apricots, fresh grapes and apples. Cooked apples pair particularly well with cheddar, brie and sheep’s milk cheese.
A solid cheeseboard should include a variety of piquant, savoury and salty items such as balsamic onions, cornichons, olives and roasted nuts – walnuts paired with stilton makes for a classic combination, for instance. Other savoury accompaniments could be celery (a great palate cleanser between cheeses), and of course some crackers, bread and breadsticks.
It goes without saying that condiments should complement the cheese. While a drizzle of honey tends to go well over blue cheeses or goat’s cheese, for something a bit different, pair a strawberry black pepper jam with brie, which is less sweet than a traditional jam and will raise intrigue amongst guests. Chutney tastes best with aged cheddar and quince paste can be spread onto crackers and eaten with Manchego cheese. And don’t forget the butter!
Sprinkle some edible flowers, dried vine leaves or herb sprigs on the cheeseboard to make it visually pop off the page. As well as adding a rather elegant touch, they will create a fragrant aroma to the board when you serve it to your guests.
For a real showstopping centrepiece, check out the IDEAL recipe for baked somerset brie by Paul Hollywood.