I'm a cheese lover of epic proportions. I'd take a cheese board over chocolate any day of the week. With a last minute urge to pull out the big flavours for the festive season, there was only one woman to turn to! Enter Diane from Provender Brown who is the go-to expert opinion for a showstopper of a cheeseboard.
Here's the party lowdown from Perth's first lady of cheese.
"If I wanted to wow my guests this Party Season with an interesting and unpredictable cheeseboard here are some of the cheeses I might choose..."
At this time of year it’s hard to go past a really good stilton, such as that from Colston Bassett, however our own Scottish Dunsyre Blue is back on the scene and better than ever. It’s now made using organic Ayrshire milk from Mossigeil Farm. Mossigeil is a high welfare dairy farm where the calves stay with their mothers, who are fed a natural grass fed diet, so the milk is of very good quality, perfect for making cheese.
I think a lot people like to have a cheddar on the cheeseboard at Christmas, in which case, we have a beautiful Vintage St Andrews cheddar at the moment.
If I wanted to wow my guests this Party Season with an interesting and unpredictable cheeseboard here are some of the cheeses I might chooseIf you’re looking for something a bit different, however, I can highly recommend Wife of Westray. This Orcadian cheese is made in the style of an Alpine Appenzeller and is delicately nutty. The farm where the cattle graze benefits from a large range of flora and herbs, giving the cheese a unique floral note.
Paddy’s Milestone is a beautiful little rock-shaped cows’ milk cheese from Ayrshire. Soft, almost moussey, with a white bloomy rind, it is creamy and delicate and will look beautiful on the cheeseboard.
Many of our lovely Scottish goats’ milk cheeses are unavailable at this time of year so I would feel no guilt about going for one of my favourites from further afield - Monte Enebro is made only by one small artisan producer, in Avila in Spain. It has a very smooth, dense texture, a grey mould rind and intense white interior. The flavour is of sweet cream with a mild goatiness and citrus acidity.
I’m going to go with Corra Linn from Errington Cheese in Lanarkshire. The ones we have at the moment have been aged for several months and have a wonderful sweet caramel and nutty character.
At his point I feel my cheeseboard is lacking a bit of colour and something for those like a bit of freshness to their cheese, so I’m going to include Red Anster. Made by Jane Stewart in Fife, the colour comes from the addition of annatto, and Red Anster is crumbly, lactic and fresh tasting with a bit of punch from the addition of garlic and chives.
I think in this instance I would dress the cheeseboard with a bunch of dried muscatel grapes, possibly some Spanish pickled figs and a few cubes of membrillo.
For me, the perfect biscuits for any cheeseboard are Peter’s Yard crispbreads – made using a sourdough starter, they are delicious, but light, thin and subtle enough not to detract from the flavour of the cheese.
In terms of wine, it’s always a bit of a nightmare trying to find one wine that will do justice to a whole range of cheese styles but I would be tempted to go with a Pedro Ximenez sherry. It’s going to be wonderful with the blue cheeses and the creamy ones, as well as the muscatel raisins and the figs – and it’s just delicious in its own right – and that’s probably as good an all round match as you’re going to get!
Big thanks to Diane for taking time out of her crazy Christmas week to bring us this delicious cheeseboard. #ChristmasSpirit at work!
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