The Christmas Cheese Board

Loading up the festive cheese board is a Christmas Eve tradition at Tweed Towers. I like to conduct a solo hunter-gathering operation. My usual hunting ground is the local Paxton & Whitfield; but I'm always willing to carry my cheese knife to fresh hunting grounds.

Received a tick
I can't remember when I tried them, but on a page of my hardback Moleskine Reporter Notebook, I added a tick next to Lincolnshire Poacher cheese (below), Berkswell sheep's cheese, Cropwell Bishop Stilton and the Tunworth British Camembert from Hampshire Cheeses. All could make a place on the Tweed Towers board this Christmas.

No cheese board is complete without set fruit conserve or 'fruit cheese'. Quince paste (or membrillo in Spanish) is the usual standby. Global Harvest of Dorset have quince and impressive alternatives, including Figlicious Fig Jelly (below).

Great cheese, lovely church
Alternatively, Paxtons does a festive Seasonal Collection (below) which has a bit of everything. Stilton is essential at Christmas, and they include a grade 'A' example. There's also good cheddar in the selection from Montgomery of North Cadbury in Somerest. Digression time: North Cadbury has a lovely church. Dating 1417, the Church of St Michael is described in Simon Jenkins' England's Thousand Best Churches. If you ever visit, you will see the tomb of  William de Botreaux, 3rd Baron Botreaux, a knight, and his wife. Pack some cheese sandwiches and make a day of it. Actually, just take the bread and buy your Montgomery cheese from the village shop.

The Paxton cheese selection also has a couple of famous French soft cheeses — Mont d'Or and Brie de Meaux — and Cerney of the Cotswolds' Cerney Ash Cheese, a goats cheese rolled in ash and sea salt. The black one hiding at the back.
Cheese anoraks
Roaming further afield, cheese anoraks are saying good things about The Courtyard Dairy's Christmas with a Twist (below). This ready-assembled cheese board has two very rare things: an unpasteurised British brie — Baron Bigod — and an unpasteurised red Leicester — Sparkenhoe Vintage. These two winners are joined by the equally winning Devon Blue blue cheese and Cais Na Tire, an Irish sheep's cheese in the style of Spain's glorious Manchego.

Beyond cheese
It's possible to extend the deliciousness beyond cheese with something like the deftly-curated boxes from Paxton and Whitfield. The Festive Collection box contains a jar of Stilton, a bottle of Taylor's vintage port, a Christmas pudding, mince pies and mulling syrup amongst other Christmas treats. I'm having trouble continuing typing at the point. I dearly want to tuck into everything I'm describing. Roll on Christmas.


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