I often get asked for my perfect Christmas cheeseboard so I thought I would share some ideas. We are hugely lucky here in Pangbourne in that we have some amazing cheesemakers all within 10 miles of the shop. It is therefore possible to do an amazing local cheeseboard consisting of Berkshire and Oxfordshire cheeses. So what makes the ultimate local cheeseboard?
Generally when thinking of a well-rounded cheeseboard I would suggest that people go for a hard, a soft, a blue and a goat. This gives you a little bit of something to suit all tastes.
For our local hard cheese I would have to go with the Spenwood from Village Maid Cheese. Named Spenwood after the village near to where it is made, this is a fantastically nutty cheese made using ewe’s milk. The cheesemakers often compare it to a Spanish Manchego or an Italian Pecorino. It is aged for 9 months before we pick it up from its home near Wellington Country Park, and it is this ageing process which gives it its unique lamby flavour with its lingering finish in the mouth. Spenwood recently won a silver medal at the World Cheese Awards.
Staying in Berkshire, and indeed on the Wokingham borders, we head towards the village of Barkham and our local blue cheese. The cheesemakers describe their award-winning blue as ‘blue butter’ and it really does melt in the mouth. It is made with Channel Island milk which gives it its fabulous creaminess without any of the harshness that can often be found in blue cheeses. Barkham Blue won the accolade of Supreme Champion at the British Cheese awards in 2015 and won a bronze medal at this year’s World Cheese Awards.
We then travel into Oxfordshire for our soft offering. Bix has been made by the Nettlebed Creamery for a mere couple of years but in that time its popularity has risen exponentially and this year it won the title of Best Soft White Cheese at the British Cheese Awards, as well as a silver medal at the World Cheese Awards. The cheese itself is loosely based on a Chaource, a luxuriant white-rind cheese from Champagne country in northern France. Completely organic and deliciously creamy the Bix is a little round of cheesy heaven.
Our last cheese is another one from Oxfordshire, Sinodun Hill. Named after the hills which can be seen from where the goats are grazing, this soft, creamy goats’ cheese has a slightly nutty edge to it. I love to eat it just as it is starting to ooze from under its rind. It was voted Best New Cheese at the Artisan Cheese Awards 2017 and this year won a gold medal at the World Cheese Awards.
But what to have with your cheese? Personally I like to eat cheese just as it was made to be eaten, i.e. on its own with no crackers and no chutney, with a few red grapes on the side. However, if you like to have something extra with your cheese then nothing beats some of our wonderful wheat fingers (think digestive biscuits) and our classic cheeseboard chutney. Pair it all with a lovely dessert wine and your perfect Christmas Cheeseboard is complete!
All of these cheeses plus much more are available from the shop. We also offer a free local delivery service to those who can’t make it here in person.