Article by Abby Miller.
Quicke's Guide to an Autumnal Cheese Board
Summer seems to last forever until all at once it collapses into autumn. The landscape shifts, green to brown, russet red and gold, and then cool and grey. Leaves blanket the ground, sun breaking through the once thick canopy, gold pouring over rubies. Hedgerows are lit like autumn bonfires, leaves golden now and bursting with berries - a forager's feast. Sloes and rosehips ripe for the picking.
In parts of the woods, there's an eerie quiet now. The shhh of the drying leaves, as autumn winds whirl through, the solitary song of the robin, singing out to the empty trees.
Dusk brings hazy mauve to the colour palette, the landscape shapeshifting, playing tricks on the eyes. A strange kind of magic in the air.
Campfires spark and embers glow, adding colour back to the darkening sky. As bats swoop overhead, nuts scavenged in shortening days are brought out to roast, the smell of the bonfire carries through the air.
Autumn is here in all her glory. It's a time to slow down, gather loved ones together and indulge in some seasonal feasting with a beautiful selection of artisan cheese.
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 Quicke's Mature Cheddar 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.
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 we curated with Pipers Farm.
Ashlyn Goats' Milk Cheese
Ashlynn’s delicate appearance belies a sultry complexity. The paste is fabulously buttery, but a spear of lemony sharpness pierces the richness and opens up intriguing savoury depths and a tingle of spice, perfect to this time of year.
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.
There could be no cheese a more perfect hue to showcase Autumn. This vibrant, full-flavoured cheese is a distinctive take on a classic Red Leicester, with fresh, nutty flavours and a lemony creaminess.
Images kindly provided by Quicke's