Planning for Christmas is a massive part of the fun along side visiting Christmas markets finding the perfect gifts and stuffing yourself on Christmas Day.
Shopping is not always fun in the last few run up days to Christmas. I've got some tips for you to help enjoy the Cheese shopping experience and get the most out of your cheese board for Christmas day, boxing day or even just those unexpected visitors you'll need to feed.
The 23rd of December is always the busiest day for cheese shopping and your local cheese shop is likely to have a few people queuing outside of the door! ~This is fine if you have the time but it could be easier:
-Check the shop opening times. Many shops open till later on to their usual hours to help people find the time to get their shopping done. Often you'll find the later hours in the day are dead compared to mid afternoon when it's choc-a-block. It's usually easier to park in the evening also and you'll probably find the staff are less frazzled.
-Don't go empty headed. If time is of the essence have an idea of what you might like to buy before you go in or make a list. You might want some guidance on what to buy but have some thoughts on if it's going to be soft, blue, goat, hard or ewe's milk cheese. It helps if someone tells me "we need a stilton for Grandad and something soft to feed 6 people" this it the kind of information a cheesemonger needs to know where to begin instead of the usual "I would like a selection of cheese".
- Check the shops website or social media before visiting (or even sign up to their mailing list). Shops will often have prepared lists for you to view or items on their website for you to look at. This means you may have even decided what you want before you arrive saving bags of time.
- Lots of people like to try before they buy and in the world of cheese it's actively encouraged but probably not so much on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of December. I've seen many a customer sampling through a selection of cheese making decisions on what they would like with some other very upset customers waiting behind them on Christmas Eve. Solution: You can come to The Little Cheesemonger anytime before Christmas and try the cheese this way you will have a idea of what you want before hand.
- When to buy your cheese? Cut slices of cheese are recommended to consumed between 4-7 days. If you are buying small whole or waxed cheeses these will often have a best before date of 4 weeks so no need for last minute shopping.
So you know what cheese you want and how much you need, what else?
-Presentation. You eat with your eyes as well as your mouth so how will you display your cheese? A cheese board is always a nice place to start, maybe you have one (we love our Wood & Slate cheese boards made in Denbigh by Neil & Angela). Surround your wedges of cheese on your cheese board with the standard grapes & apples but you could have nuts like walnuts or slab of membrillo (quince jelly). Not forgetting a nice locally made chutney or chilli jam.
-Crackers. Christmas is not the time to be choosing your basic crackers. You've put effort in to your cheese board so chose something a little more artisan. You could try Miller's Charcoal crackers, 3 fruits, buttermilk or go for some Stag water biscuits. It's always best to avoid salty crackers with cheese. Soft cheese is nice with a crusty bread like a spelt loaf.
What about the Booze?
- Sweet wines like Sautern goes wonderfully with a strong blue cheese
- Dry whites pair well with rich creamy cheese like Vignotte.
- Reds are a pretty much good all rounder for cheese.
-Pass the Port! There is nothing quite like a piece of Colston Basset Stilton tag teamed up with a glass of Port. I'll be doing some sampling of this of the Christmas season so pop in and try some.
- Mines a pint! Beers, ales and Ciders are also delicious with cheese.
So now I hope this helps you choose something you'll look forward to and take real pleasure in eating this Christmas
Got any questions? email me on firstname.lastname@example.org