How to Create a Winter Cheese Board
The Michaelmas months provide a bounty of produce. Hedgerows are filled with tinges and tones from burnt orange to vibrant red. The 'golden hour' makes the colours sing as they take hold as our pallet for the next few weeks.
You can use colourful foods from nature to brighten up your cheese board, whilst reflecting the season outside the steamed-up window.
Sprinkle your spread with berries and fruits for the warmth, contrast and splashes of seasonal colour. You'll find rosehips, apples, pears, sloes and blackberries in abundance.
Candles can be used throughout your display to evoke the magic of a flickering fire, or bonfire night, just around the corner. Just be sure they are safe and not likely to catch fire.
Just like the leaves on the ground, a good spread requires many layers. If you're feeding a bigger crowd, it's effective to put big, bulky and heavy items like a cheese truckle at the back and at the centre. This acts as the peak and draws the attention first, before trickling down into smaller, daintier items at the sides and front. You can use boards, stands and props to give things more height, or you can add bottles, carafes or candlesticks for that extra tall layer.
Contrast the soft and smooth edges of the cheese with the dry contours of fir cones or spiky holly. Round objects like fruits, berries and grapes add another dimension to the spread. Shiny chestnuts, glossy chutneys and drizzling honeycomb bejewel the spread against the dry nuts, bread and wooden boards. It's these subtle differences in texture which make a feast so intricate and eye-catching.
Aesthetics aside, you'll want something indulgent to eat your cheese with. Crackers, toasts and breads work as a great base for your friends to pile up their creation high with elements from your feast.
Base, check. Cheese, check. Next must be some sort of topping. Chutneys and marmalades, are all delicious juicy extras to atop a cheese cracker. They bring a sharp, sweet or satisfying acidity to the palette and can also add a dash of colour too.
A sweet yet piquant blend of English onion, molassed sugars and white wine vinegar. Superb with Blue Cheese and soft cheeses.
Swedish tradition is combined with British craft to create these hand-baked sourdough crackers. The perfect crispy base for any cheese.
A beautifully handcrafted loaf. Full of delicious figs and walnuts. The dough, made using Shipton Mill's stone ground flour, is enriched with black treacle and a little rye sourdough. A brilliant loaf to have on the table, our fig and walnut bread is a great addition to a cheese board.
Choosing your Cheese
We recommend allowing around 100 grams (3-5 ounces) of cheese per person, however, this can vary depending on the course. You'll want to cover all the key autumnal bases; something earthy, something spicy and something smokey.
We have chosen a few of our favourites from the new range of Artisan Cheese curated by Pipers Farm.
Invoke the happy scents of bonfire with this clothbound cheddar, gently smoked over chips cut from the Quicke's esate.
St Jude Raw Cows' Milk
This dainty little cheese is fresh and lemony with a zippy mousse-like texture when young, but packs more punch as it matures, developing Autumnal earthy flavours and a gooey interior.
Tunworth - Cows' Milk
A soft mould-ripened cheese with a thin wrinkled rind and sweet flavour. This cheese which takes in vegetal notes that evoke the end of the harvest season.
Wrapped in a vine leaf, White Lake Cheese's Eve takes its inspiration from the south of France – namely Provence's Banon. The rind, with its light blooms, has a gorgeous sweetness from the brandy, balancing against the natural sharpness of the goat's milk.
Images kindly provided by Quicke's