I'm not a huge lover of cheese but now we're coming up to Christmas I've started thinking about my cheese board - in our family none of us are cheese fiends (well, a couple are maybe borderline...) but we all like a bit here and there (except daughter number two who has a cheese phobia, really) so while I generally buy the usual Cheddar, Edam and Applewood throughout the year I do try to put on something nice for the Christmas Day munchies.
I always put a small block of plain Cheddar out, just something nice like Cathedral City or even an own brand supermarket Cheddar if one has impressed me enough - this caters for the fussier people and ensures everyone has *something* to put on their crackers even if they don't fancy the rest of the selection.
I'll do and either/or between Brie and Camembert but always have both in for Christmas so I can mix or add to the board as I need to, I put them cold onto the cheese board and if I have a full Camembert leftover I'll sometimes bake that on Boxing Day and those of us who like it will have a gooey cheese dip.
For years I added Stilton to the cheese board for the sake of tradition but a couple of years ago twigged that no one actually likes it so I haven't bothered buying it since - it was a bit of a wrench actually as I do think Stilton epitomises Christmas but what's the point when it always gets thrown away uneaten?! This year I'm going to buy a nice block of Danish Blue for the blue cheese as that's a pretty safe bet and there are some lovely varieties already appearing in the supermarkets.
After that anything goes really, for the past couple of years I've bought a Wensleydale with Cranberries as I think that's a lovely addition to a Christmas table but a couple in the family also like the spicier chilli flavoured cheeses so I'll get one or two of those to satisfy them - I'm tempted by a block of goats cheese this year too as I had it in a restaurant recently and it was much nicer than I thought it was going to be!
Alongside the cheeses I'll serve some crackers, just a box standard Selection from Jacobs as there's something for everyone in that box. I'm probably going to scatter some squares of dark chocolate around the cheeses and pop some grapes on the board too as I watched a programme about how the Royals have their cheese boards and that looked a really fabulous idea - I can't afford the gold cheese knives but I can certainly stretch to a couple of bars of Green & Blacks!
Like most people I love the food that is bad for me and this includes cheese! When I was growing up the only cheese I can ever remember eating was cheddar or occasionally a little red Leicester and at Christmas dad would have some stinking stilton! But now I am an adult and more adventurous with my food I have had the chance to try many different cheeses. Here are my favourite world cheeses:
Feta – I fell in love with Feta cheese on my first visit to Greece around 10 years ago. It is a crumbly cheese originating from Greece made from sheep’s milk and has a salty taste. My favourite way to eat this cheese is in a simple Greek salad.
Halloumi – This is a cheese I have most recently become familiar with and one that again is from Greece although also very popular in Turkey and Cyprus. This is quite a hard cheese and also has a salty taste but has a high melting point so is perfect to grill or fry. I especially enjoy this cheese grilled on grilled vegetable scewers.
Mozzarella – A very delicately flavoured cheese originating in Italy. This cheese is most commonly used for topping pizzas but also makes an excellent addition to a salad or with tomatoes on bruchetta.
Brie – Originating from France this is a soft cheese covered in a edible rind. This cheese is tasty eaten as it is, added to salads or baked in the oven and used as a dipping cheese.
Camembert – Another soft cheese from France slightly similar to Brie but normally a slightly stronger taste. This cheese normally comes in small wheel which again can be eaten alone or baked in the oven to use as a dip.
CHEESE FROM AROUND THE WORLD
I am a lover of cheese and I like it when I can try different cheese from around the world. I am Italian but I do not like all Italian cheese because alot of it has a flavour that is not strong enough for how I like it and some cheese in Italy is not produced or available all year around because of temperature and agricultural reasons.
WHAT ARE MY FAVOURITE ITALIAN CHEESES
I like Bitto but that is available only in the summer because of how the cows are fed with summer grass. Bitto has a very pleasing flavour and it is a mix of cows and goats milk so the 2 tastes go together very nice. You buy Bitto from a market because it is not widely available in shops and when you buy it from a farmers market you know it is fresh and has been made with carefulness.
Bastardo del Grappa is alot like Bitto and that is made from a mixture of different milk also to make it complex with its taste but very pleasing also. Belicino is a Sicilian cheese that you can not buy from many places but I like it very much, Belicino has got small pieces of olive inside it and that makes the cheese very interesting and not like other cheeses.
Ricotta is the cheese that most people know from Italy but I do not think it is one of my favourites because I think it has got a very sickly flavour that I like only when in sauce and not as a cheese alone.
CHEESE FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
England is my home now but I think English cheese is not very different from each other even though it is nice. I have liked Cheddar cheese from when I first came to England but when we went on holiday and went to Cheddar Gorge I tasted cheese that was so pleasing it has made me not like supermarket Cheddar so much.
I like to eat Wensleydale cheese because it is so creamy and I like it that alot of the places that make Wensleydale with different flavours in it like apricot or nuts and that makes the cheese a little bit more interesting.
I like the usual French cheese that everybody likes like Brie and Camembert but with those cheeses I do not care if I buy an expensive slice or one that is alot cheaper. I like Mont des Cats cheese and Port Salut from France also.
5 Dooyoo Stars.
I have recently tasted "halloumi". It is made of both goat's and sheep's milk. Halloumi is a white, solid hard cheese. It is harder than most cheeses but the taste is amazing. It is the traditional cheese of Cyprus and costs around 3 pounds for 300-400 grams. I find it a little expensive but I really like it.
There are many ways to cook this cheese. As I was told, halloumi can be grilled. This type of cooking makes the cheese softer. Then you can serve it with meat. Also, this cheese can be fried. It is not the same taste but it is a good method if you want to make a sandwich.
Of course, as well as the other cheeses, you can eat it without even cooking it. however because this cheese is preserved inside a bottle with salty water(I have no idea why) the taste is too strong.
Cypriot people eat more halloumi than normal cheese I think, and they have many interesting recipes including it as a main ingredient. As a funny example, instead of macaroni and cheese, they cook macaroni and halloumi. Also they are using it to make a really tasty pie, called "halloumopita"
I don't know if you will find those facts interesting, but I really hope you can try it one day. Also if you ever travel to Cyprus don't be afraid to enter a supermarket and get yourselves a couple of bottles. However, if you want to eat halloumopita you must go to a local bakery.