Granted, it’s not the 1st December yet but it is the last weekend in November, and Thanksgiving for any American friends, which I believe signals the a-ok to start talking about Christmas. Yup, I’m going there. Apologies if it’s still way too early for you but hey I dressed up my fireplace with some festive red berries today and I’m getting in the groove.
To be honest I’m actually really excited about the festive period this year. I think because last year we skipped the whole thing entirely and jetted off on our honeymoon to hang out on a beach on Christmas Day, having a traditional homely Christmas this time around feels even more special. It’s also the first Christmas in our new home, the last before baby comes along and the first (bar our honeymoon) where GB and I have decided to spend it together, just the two of us, in our new house, without any stress or travelling or trying to fit in time with everyone – and I can’t wait! We’re both taking some proper time off, and we’re basically just going to cosy up indoors for at least 3 days in our most festive PJ’s (ok that’s mainly me), watch ALL the Christmas movies and stop vegging on the sofa only to cook up a delicious homecooked Crimbo dinner (ok that’s mainly going to be GB).
So with the countdown officially on, and my Crimbo cheer beginning I thought I’d once again tackle some festive content on the blog throughout the next few weeks as last year I had so much fun putting my ‘Tis The Season features together. Hopefully these posts will provide you with tips and tricks to make your own Christmas celebrations a stylish affair, and I really hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ll be enjoying preparing them!
First up I’m talking food (of course) and in particular how to create the ultimate festive cheeseboard, which is undoubtedly a must at Christmas (or any time really – we had an epic cheeseboard at our wedding which was kindly put together by a friend and complete with homemade chutneys and all sorts).
Now being preggo does make you an absolute spoil sport in many of Christmas’s traditions, cheese eating being one of them. And unfortunately I’ll be having to say ‘thanks but no thanks’ to many of the best cheeses on the board this year, including baked Camembert, goats cheese and Stilton (sigh). But the idea of not having a cheeseboard at all seems slightly ludicrous and luckily I have a husband who adores cheese and we’re welcoming family over in the week between Christmas and New Year, and having a knees up with friends on Hogmanay so there’s still ample opportunity for me to be hostess with the mostess (hurrah!).
So without further ado, let me show you what my perfect festive cheeseboard looks like, what the must have complimentary items are and how I go about styling it. I’ve worked with Davidstow Cheddar on this post, a Cornish cheese that’s strong, crumbly and full of flavour – just how I like it! You can buy Davidstow at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Ocado.
How to Create the Perfect Festive Cheeseboard
Step 1 – The Cheeses
Clearly the first stage of cheeseboarding is to select your ideal cheeses. Now everyone will have a favourite and we’re all made differently so personally I always like to opt for variety when it comes to my cheeseboard and treat guests to a broad selection. These are my – isn’t a true cheeseboard without – choices;
At least 2 types of Cheddar – a classic cheddar is a must and ideally you might want a couple of variations. Perhaps a super strong version and a milder one, or a crumbly style along with an easy to slice waxy number. I’ve chosen two absolutely delicious cheddars from Davidstow – a 3 year old vintage reserve cheddar and an 18 month cheddar – both crafted in Cornwall in the town that gives them their name.
Camembert – best served baked, Camembert is one of those indulgent treats most of us only allow ourselves at Christmas, so bake, dunk, spread and enjoy.
Smoked Cheese – I love a smoky cheese, perhaps and Austrian or Bavarian number which tastes amazing with a bit of sweet chutney for that sweet and smoky juxtaposition.
Wensleydale and Cranberry – this is always on our Christmas shopping list – we love it. The Cranberry is a delicious addition to a crumbly Wensleydale (and if it comes Wallace and Gromit approved?).
Goats Cheese – another gooey number, a small circle of melting goats cheese tastes amazing with a bit of parma ham on top a cracker.
Brie – another Christmas favourite, we all know a touch of melted Brie sliced or spread on a baguette with some cranberry sauce is the ultimate taste of all things festive.
Stilton – or any blue cheese you love, because a cheeseboard without at least one truly smelly number isn’t a cheeseboard worth having.
Edam – finally, a milder cheese is always wise, for any of those who aren’t as big a cheese lover as you. Personally I love Edam, but you could also try a Gouda, or something similar.
Also just now realising that my cheeseboard is like a trip around Europe too so maybe the rule should be a cheese from every country.
Step 2 – The Breads and Crackers
Next up you’ll need a mix of bases with which to team your cheeses and again, as much as I love a Jacobs Cracker, I think variety is the spice of life here. So here are my chosen accompaniments;
Crusty Baguette/Tiger loaf – no need to cut it, simply tear big pieces off a soft baguette and get stuck in.
Oatcakes – a personal preference to crackers due to their crumbly texture and savoury taste.
Poppyseed crackers – all types of crackers are great but a poppyseed style just looks particularly stylish on the board and goes great with the stronger cheeses.
Other additions include some breadsticks – great for dipping and for pre-dinner snacking.
Step 3 – The Accompaniments
Now of course a cheeseboard isn’t complete without a few extras and these are my personal faves;
Chutneys – you can’t have a cheeseboard without chutney right? I chose a sweeter version (Spiced Apricot – so delicious by the way) and a savoury version (Spicy plum tomato).
Cranberry Sauce – a Christmas must have of course.
Grapes – why is it that grapes just go so well with cheese?
Cherry Tomatoes on the vine – on the vine because it looks better, cherry tomato because they’re sweet, tasty and ideal with a cheese and baguette combo
A glass of good red – Not for me right now obvs but under normal circumstances I’d team any cheeseboard eating with some red wine drinking – no explanation needed.
Other key additions could include some cold meats – parma ham or salami for example. Figs are a popular choice, as is a touch of honey.
Step 4 – The styling
The final stage of creating your ultimate festive cheeseboard is making it look pretty and then getting slightly maddened when hands delve in and mess up the look you spent ages crafting. These are my top tips for making your cheeseboard look the part;
Consider your board – I’ve opted for a black slate board which I think always looks classy (also consider the Pinterest option of using chalk pen to name your cheeses on any slate – if you don’t mind it staying that way of course – but a long thin wooden board or stylish tray can also look great.
Slice your cheeses a variety of different ways – I sliced my smoked cheese into chunks, one because it’s easier to pile onto a cracker that way but two because it looks much better than just plonking it on the plate as is. Add interest to your board by cutting all of your cheeses differently – from triangles to crumbly squares to thin slices and round domes.
Opt for a rustic approach – personally I think a cheeseboard can look a little messy and undone and be all the better for it – so leave chutneys in jars and dunk spoons in ready to dollop, splay out your crackers and breads so everyone can dig in and crumble some cheeses amongst the fruit and meats. Keep it relaxed, friendly and inviting.
That’s my perfect festive cheeseboard, but what does yours look like? I hope you’ve enjoyed the first instalment of my Christmas series, I’ll be back next week with some tips on tackling present wrapping like a pro!
* This post was in collaboration with Davidstow Cheddar. All words, styling and photography by me. Thanks for supporting sponsored content on the blog!*