Ideally a cheese board would have a good range of different types of cheese. The UK produces many cheeses that are not cheddars so it’s important to showcase these as well. Within each type there are differences between the cheeses so a good variety within each type is also important.
The selection of blue cheeses would incorporate strong, medium, mild and extra creamy cheeses. It would also be beneficial to provide lesser known blue cheeses for tastings as English blue cheeses can often be seem as synonymous with stilton in people’s minds. Colston Basset stilton is a good example of a really strong full impact British blue. Stichelton is another strong to medium and would be a compliment to stiltons being an unpasterised form of a similar cheese. For those preferring a more medium bodied cheese Blue Wensleydale offers a good alternative. Although medium in strength it has a nice acidity combined with the typical honey flavours of Wensleydale. For those wanting a mild blue cheese a young Cornish blue would be recommended.
Cheddars remain one of the most commonly purchased cheeses and no cheese board would be complete without one!. A good range would have those from 12 months to 2 years in maturity and this should offer a range in flavours. A 12 month old Keens would offer a good earthy cheddar. Some cheddars have a slight sweet flavour such as Davidstow Mature and these would be offered alongside more traditional ones such as Quickes (probably 18 months) which offers a tangy bite and a more beefy flavoured one like Ticklers. A really mature savoury cheese like Barbers 1833, matured for 2 years, also offers a great depth of flavour. Consideration must be made as to the time of year the cheese is being sold as the seasonal milk can have a tremendous difference on the flavours of the cheddars.
The UK also produces some high quality hard cheeses outside of the cheddars. Vintage Linconshire Poacher would be recommended as an unpasterised complex hard cheese with a hint of fruit and nut. This cheese has been described as a cross between a west country cheddar and continental hard cheese. For a parmesan style cheese from the UK Old Winchester would be suggested. This Wiltshire produced cheese offers a dryer and harder cheese than its neighbour Winchester and can be used both as a table cheese or a vegetarian replacement to parmesan. It has a distinct nutty flavour.
UK regional crumbly cheeses would also be included such as Gorwydd Caerphilly and Applebys Cheshire. Applebys has a mild flavour and would be good for people looking for a less striking hard cheese. It’s attractive pink colour can also add variety to a cheeseboard. Caerphilly is a stronger earthier cheese but offers a moister hard cheese with a firmer outside. Hawes Wensleydale would also be a useful addition. This cheese is mild and fresh when young and develops a honey flavour when mature. As with most cheeses it dries with age and becomes crumbly.
Soft and Semi-Soft
Soft cheese would include those with a very soft texture which require time to reach maturity and full flavour. Both mould ripened and brine washed cheeses would be selected. A brie and camembert from Cornish country Larder would be stocked. The camembert having a stronger flavour than the brie. St Endellion also from the same producer, would also be a nice addition to the soft range, made with double cream and offering a richer brie-like cheese than Cornish brie. Bath soft cheese is a camembert like cheese and offers a rich creamy soft cheese. A personal favourite such as Tunworth would make a great finish to this section. It has a fantastic nutty flavour with a rich creaminess which will appeal to those familiar with French Camemberts.
Although the UK does not produce as many semi-soft cheeses as France there are still some that would be selected to offer on a board. As it is such a popular cheese Stinking bishop would be stocked which is a full and distinctive cheese whilst not as strong as its odour implies! Sharpham rustic from Devon would be stocked as a fairly mild cow’s milk semi-hard cheese. A stronger alternative of Wigmore would also be stocked. This is a fuller flavoured ewes semi-hard cheese with a distinctive flavour. As it is a ewes’ cheese it would be in contrast to a lot of the other cows milk cheeses.
Colour, shape, flavour
To make the board look appetising a few colourful cheeses would be stocked such as Sparkenhoe Red Leicester. This is the only Red Leicester made in Leicestershire and is made to a traditional recipe. This hard cheese would bring contrast to the visual display. Another colourful addition would be Cropwell Bishop Shropshire Blue, Although not made in Shropshire this blue cheese would make a good addition to the counter given its blue and orange colour as well as creamy and medium flavour.