As we prepare to remember the National Bard Robert Burns, Susan Welsh learns how to create the perfect cheeseboard to celebrate Burns Night.
You may not be attending an organised supper this year but chances are you’ll still enjoy a wee Burns Night in your own home.
You’ve addressed the haggis, enjoyed a wee dram – and now it’s time for the cheese.
But how best to celebrate Scotland’s national bard with dairy?
Highland Fine Cheeses’ Rory Stone reveals his top picks…
When selecting cheese for any cheeseboard, variety is key – a good mix of textures and flavours will ensure you have maximum enjoyment. And cheese is, after all, there to be enjoyed!
Start with the classics…
For a firm cheese, you can’t go wrong with a good, aged cheddar.
It’s the most popular cheese in the UK, and there are so many delicious varieties produced across the country.
A mature cheddar will have a fairly sharp, often earthy flavour.
Next up, consider a blue cheese.
This is likely to have a stronger flavour and aroma, caused by the veins of mould running through it.
Roquefort, Stilton and Gorgonzola are some of the most popular, and you’ll find them in good cheesemongers – and we also produce our own Strathdon Blue, which has a rich flavour.
For something a little milder, St Agur is absolutely delicious.
A good cheeseboard also has some softer cheeses on it, and you can’t go wrong with Brie.
The secret with Brie is to wait until it is perfectly ripe before eating it – that way, you’ll ensure you get the full flavour and perfect, slightly runny consistency.
Of course, you can’t make a cheeseboard to celebrate one of Scotland’s greatest icons without featuring some traditional Scottish cheeses.
Crowdie is one of the country’s oldest cheeses, dating back as far as the Vikings.
It’s soft and fresh-tasting and is delicious spread on a nice, thick oatcake.
You’ll find a few variations of crowdie on the market if you hunt around – including black crowdie, which is rolled in oatmeal and black pepper.
While crowdie was known as a cheese for the poor (and so probably known to Burns), Caboc was hailed as a cheese for the wealthy.
Closely guarded secret
Made as far back as the 15th Century, it’s a rich and buttery cheese made with double cream.
The recipe is a closely guarded secret, passed down through the generations, and it’s currently secreted here in the Highland Fine Cheeses’ vault.
It’s always worth including at least one cheese on the board that pushes you a little out of your comfort zone, too.
That might be something with a pungent aroma – like our washed rind Minger – or, if you usually stick to cow’s milk cheeses, a good goat’s or ewe’s milk cheese can really open up your tastebuds.
Remember, a cheeseboard doesn’t just end with dairy. Oatcakes and crackers, coupled with tangy, fruity chutneys and relishes, can really enhance the flavour of your favourite cheeses.
And you haven’t lived until you’ve tried some cheese on a sweet digestive biscuit!
Slices of apple, celery and grapes can also provide a refreshing palate cleanser between trying different varieties.
You could even add some charcuterie and olives if you feel fancy.
A good cheesemonger will be able to keep you right to make sure you have the perfect balance for your cheeseboard.
However, if you want the choice made for you, Highland Fine Cheeses can create a special platter for you to ensure you get the perfect cheese mix. For more information, visit the website: hf-cheeses.com