Tuck into these 12 cheeses for a glorious 2020 Christmas
PUBLISHED: 11:44 16 November 2020 | UPDATED: 11:53 16 November 2020
A different taste for each of the 12 days of Christmas? Nick Birchall of The Cheese Shop in Nantwich selects the best for your festive table
Cheesemonger and affineur Nick Birchall may well be shouting ‘Merry Cheesemas!’ from the doors of his very own Cheese Shop in Nantwich this Christmas.
Nick’s family have been farming in Cheshire since the 1700s, with both his great grandfather and great, great grandfather champion cheesemakers. Nick has judged cheese across the country at fairs and food festivals for more than 20 years, so he knows what he’s talking about.
He and his partner Chris Hogan opened The Cheese Shop, Nantwich, in early October, stocked full of only the best artisan cheeses with their imperfect shapes and rich, creamy textures.
“Christmas dinner is the meal we all look forward to, year round,” Nick says. “When you’ve had your turkey, your Christmas pudding... there’s always room to graze from a well-balanced cheese board. It is all part of the family tradition – sitting around the table and putting the world to right, catching up on everybody’s news and enjoying some cheese and biscuits with a glass or two of port. People like that tradition. A great idea is to create a cheeseboard that will combine different tastes and textures. The classic combination of Stilton, brie and cheddar is always a winning choice on any cheeseboard. Add Rachel and Drunken Burt to take it to the next level. Whatever you choose, we all wish you a very Happy Christmas.”
The Cheese Shop, 12 Hospital Street, Nantwich, CW5 5RJ. 01270 620 799, opening hours: Monday to Saturday 8.30am to 5.30pm and Sunday 10.30am to 4pm.
Stilton: A favourite all year round but even better at Christmas, made at Colston Bassett Dairy in Nottinghamshire and the only hand-ladled Stilton. It has a rich and creamy texture with wonderful blue veining, leading to a luxurious taste.
Montgomery Cheddar: A traditional cloth-bound Somerset cheddar made by Jamie Montgomery, using both morning and evening milk from his herd of Friesian cattle to create a glorious deep taste, matured for 24 months and sometimes with natural blue veining.
Appleby Cheshire: Cheshire cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in recorded history, and Appleby’s is widely regarded as the best Cheshire cheese that money can buy. Its slightly salty taste, derived from the natural salt that lies deep down beneath the soil, is reflected in the milk produced by the cattle that graze on the grass above.
Crabtree: An Alpine-style cheese made by Anne Clayton on her farm near Malpas, this interesting cheese (often slightly appley tasting from the number of crab apple trees around the pasture land) is based on an Italian hard-pressed cheese. Anne studied cheese making in Italy before setting up her own dairy, producing this cheese with milk piped directly from her husband’s farm across the yard.
Burt’s Blue: A deliciously rich and creamy semi-soft blue cheese made by Claire Burt in her dairy at Ollerton. A fabulous alternative to a Stilton cheese with the enviable quality of not being too blue in taste but with a superb long-lasting flavour.
Drunken Burt: Another cheese from the dairy belonging to Claire Burt at Ollerton, who along with her fellow cheesemaker Tom Partridge, has developed this wonderfully tasty washed rind cheese. The cheese is washed in Gwatkin’s cider, which gently permeates into the cheese, giving it a delicious taste and texture.
Baron Bigod: A fabulous English brie made in the French style but using milk from the Montbeliarde cows that graze on the Crickmore family farm in Suffolk. The cheese has a bloomy rind and deep mushroomy flavour, which will enhance any Christmas cheeseboard.
Rachel: A hard-pressed goat’s milk cheese whose curds have been cut several times to allow a dense and slightly firmer texture, resulting in a deep and beautifully rich taste. Made by Roger Longman and his team on a farm near Glastonbury, this cheese is one his favourites for Boxing Day lunch.
Smoked Cheshire: A Cheshire cheese from the farm of John Bourne at Malpas – but with a twist. The cow’s milk cheese is matured for several weeks before it is smoked over oak chips, giving the cheese a real punchy, smoked flavour perfect for warming up the tastebuds on a cold winter’s evening.
Delice de Bourgogne: Christmas is a time for indulgence and there is no other cheese that fits the theme so well. Made with triple cream in the Bourgogne region of France, this crowd pleaser wows the tastebuds and perfectly accompanies a festive glass of fizz, a charcoal biscuit and perhaps a sliver of quince paste.
Camembert to Bake Cheeze: Not everyone wants to eat animal-milk cheese, so, Kim Bloemers from Soul Cheeze makes vegan cheeze using plant-based alternatives to milk from just outside Nantwich. This camembert-style melting cheeze with cashew nuts and coconut oil is ready to bake for a tasty supper.
Garlic and Herb Cheeze: Another of Kim’s vegan cheezes, made with fresh almond milk and coconut oil and infused with garlic and fresh herbs to create a light and spreadable cheeze. Due to its soft nature, this is a perfect cheeze to spread on hot toast sprinkled with some freshly ground Sichuan pepper, making it a delicious midnight snack.