Cheesed off with the same old festive cheeseboard? Swap the usual Christmas favourites for these lesser-known varieties
Stilton, brie, cheddar: the holy trinity of festive cheese. But hang on a sec – there are some other big cheeses in town. Try these crowd-pleasing Christmas swapsies or shake things up with some of the newer varities.
If you love cheddar
Go for Comté, Montagne du Jura, a wonderfully aged Gruyère or a rich and fruity Piave
These European mountain cheeses, (so-called because their longevity made them scrumptious sustenance for mountain folk during winter) are made from cooked curd, pressed under weights. They have a hard, slightly dry texture with moreish brown sugar notes.
From the highlands to the low country, serve up a slab of extra mature Dutch gouda. Slightly mellower than cheddar, it’s full of fabulously rich caramel flavours.
Swap the Stilton for
Slightly less strong than Stilton, this creamy, marbled German blue has a much wider appeal (even the kids will eat it!). Mild and buttery with just the right amount of tang, this beauty is a real winner.
Fancy something stronger?
Choose Roquefort. Salty, sharp and pungent, this intense cheese isn’t for everyone (though allegedly Emperor Charlemagne couldn’t get enough). For something in between, throw a creamy Gorgonzola dolce into the mix, brimming with rich winey notes.
Better than Brie
Try a Camembert Pays
Think of this super-smooth customer as a kind of ballsy brie – it’s got more flavour, more character and is even a bit richer. Leave out of the fridge for a few hours before serving so it starts to spread over your cheeseboard in a gooey hunk of deliciousness. Nom.
Something more unusual?
From the Champagne region of France, Chaource goes down particularly well with a glass of bubbles (like most things in life, then). Deliciously buttery and rich with slight lemony notes, it’s a posher and more unusual choice, guaranteed to impress the gourmand.
Cheese traditionalists look away now
Additive cheeses (that’s cheese with added flavourings to you and me), are much maligned by cheese purists who prefer their curds aged in caves and time-honoured recipes.
Wensleydale with sticky fig and salted caramel sounds like it shouldn’t work but trust us, it does – just tell anyone who disaproves that it’s for the kids and then watch them scoff the lot.
Across the board
Complete your selection with a young and fresh-tasting goats’ cheese. Chabichou (cute name or what?) is a traditional, unpasteurized variety, and the perfect start to your cheesefest.
All you need then is a string of redcurrants, a bunch of grapes and a scattering of nuts. Serve with a jug of celery on the side, tawny port or a sweet sherry to quaff and walnut bread. Life's pretty good isn't it?