Here’s how to be the grand fromage at any dinner party with our expert guide to building the perfect cheeseboard this festive season
Christmas is here, which means it’s time for feasting and nothing quite hits the spot like cheese – and plenty of it.
But hosting a blow-out dinner or even a cheese night with friends is a daunting task, (which is why we often end up reaching for the phone). Fortunately we spoke to Mansour Ghaleb, cheeses and cold cuts specialist at Galeries Lafayette, who told us how to create a really gouda cheese board.
Elastic waistbands at the ready, here’s the brie-f…
1. The soft cheese
What: a soft cheese is a must and this artisanal brie is so delicious and gooey that, leave it out for an hour, and it becomes more like a mini fondue.
Eat with: crusty bread (dripped straight in) and a drizzle of sweet, raw honey.
2. The sheep’s cheese
BRIQUE DE BREBIS
What: sheep’s milk is much higher in fat, which is what gives this soft white cheese such a powerful kick and moreish nutty taste.
Eat with: slices of peach – watery fruit complement the strong flavour and heavy texture.
3. The speciality cheese
MOLITERNO AL TARTUFO
What: the best pecorino comes from Sardinia and this creamy, indulgent pecorino sardo is even more delicious, thanks to the truffle that’s pumped into the cheese during its 12-month ageing process.
Eat with: nothing – this truffle-tastic cheese is best eaten solo.
4. The hard cheese
What: skip the cheddar and instead try an 18-month-aged Comté. Produced in the summer months, this French cheese has a rich aftertaste and nutty flavour.
Eat with: pecan nuts or figs – its mildness means it goes well with most accompaniments.
5. The Italian cheese
OCCELLI IN FOGLIE DI CASTAGNO
What: another speciality cheese, its unique mix of cows’ and sheep’s milk – and the fact it’s wrapped in chestnut leaves while it matures – gives it a strong flavour but light texture.
Eat with: grapes – the sweet acidity cuts through the richness.
6. The blue cheese
What: don’t play it safe with a Stilton. A slice of Shropshire blue is a creamier, richer and less acidic alternative and the blue veins of mould (don’t let that put you off) gives it a surprisingly sweet taste.
Eat with: by itself on a cracker.
Cheesy facts and tips:
#1 For the best texture and flavour, remove the cheeses from the fridge at least an hour before serving.
#2 Comté is only produced for six months a year and the best batch is made June to July, when the grass the cows feed on is greenest.
#3 Many cheeses are wrapped in leaves. It was originally for protection, but producers soon realised the leaves’ oils gave cheese extra flavours.
#4 If you’re having a cheese board with dinner, make sure there’s about 100g per guest; for a wine and cheese night, 250g per person is ideal.
#5 The key to a triumphant cheeseboard is a variety of milks and textures.
Le Gourmet, Galeries Lafayette, Dubai Mall, Dubai, daily 10am to midnight. Tel: (04) 3399933. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. galerieslafayettedubai.com
Illustrations by: Freddie Colinares