The perfect Christmas cheese board

A cheeseboard

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a delicious selection of cheeses (after all, you're bound to have room left after turkey with all the trimmings and Christmas pudding).

Here are my favourite cheeses to create a well-rounded festive cheeseboard.

Westcombe Cheddar

 Unpasteurised, traditional rennet, cow’s milk 

Westcombe Cheddar is one of only three cheeses entitled to the Slow Food designation Artisan Somerset Cheddar. To qualify for this a cheese must be made in Somerset using traditional rennet and unpasteurised milk from the farm’s own cows; it must be made by hand before being matured for up to 20 months.

This one is made in Evercreech, near Shepton Mallet, and has  a complex flavour and a moister texture than some cheddars. £23 per kg 


Pasteurised, traditional rennet, cow’s milk

Stilton is the classic cheese to enjoy at Christmas,  and Paxton & Whitfield’s award-winning version is handmade by Cropwell Bishop Creamery in Nottinghamshire. The creamery has been making the cheese for more than   160 years, and Paxton’s cheeses are all graded to be of the best quality. To make the cheese, a blend of evening and morning milk from local farms  is used.

The starter of traditional rennet and blue mould culture is added, then once the curds have formed the whey is drained away and the curds are ladled to a 'table’, where they settle overnight.  The following day they are milled, salted and transferred by hand into cylindrical moulds. After  a week, once the cheeses have started to develop, they are removed from the moulds and the rinds are smoothed down.

Stilton cheese should have a pleasant, herby tang Credit: Sue Wilson/Alamy

They remain in the ripening room for a further four weeks before they are pierced with stainless-steel needles to allow air to reach the interior of the cheese and encourage the spread of the characteristic blue veining. Paxton & Whitfield Stilton is matured for about 12 weeks.

As it matures the cheese gains  a creamy, mellow flavour, with a buttery richness that melts in the mouth. Stilton in prime condition, like Paxton’s, should be creamy yellow with an even spread of blue-green veins.  The flavour should not be overpowering but have  a pleasant herby tang.  £24 per kg


Unpasteurised, traditional rennet, cow’s milk

This award-winning Alpine-style aged hard cheese  is made by a modern Austrian co-operative creamery near the Swiss and German borders. It uses cow’s milk from about 30 small farms that have herds of only about 15 cows. It is a hard-pressed cheese that is aged for about eight months.

The interior of the cheese has pea-sized eyes that are the result of gas produced by the culture during the making process. It is a rich and silky cheese with toasted-nut flavours and spicy afternotes. It was voted best hard cheese at the Austrian GenussKrone 2010/2011 food awards. £28 per kg 


Unpasteurised, traditional rennet, sheep’s milk

The name of this cheese is derived from the Ossau Valley in Béarn, and the Irati Forest in the Basque Country of southwest France.

Traditionally made by the shepherds in the region, it has been an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) product since 1980, one of only two sheep’s milk cheeses granted this status in France (the other being Roquefort). £43 per kg


Pasteurised, vegetarian rennet, cow’s milk

Peter Humphries and Roger Longman at White Lake Cheese in Somerset have worked with cheese entrepreneur and ex-Blur bassist Alex James to create this semi-soft, washed-rind cheese from rich Guernsey milk.

During maturation the curds are washed in Temperley Somerset Cider Brandy, which gives it a wonderful silky, golden hue. After eight to 10 weeks it has a creamy, buttery and indulgent flavour. £9.50 each (200g)

Pennard Ridge

Pasteurised, traditional rennet, goat’s milk

Philip Rainbow has a long history of cheesemaking, concentrating on non-cow’s milk cheeses. He recently jointly set up the Somerset Cheese Company, near Glastonbury, and makes  a selection of goat, ewe and buffalo milk cheeses.

Pennard Ridge is a 2kg goat’s cheese made to a Caerphilly recipe. It is pale cream in colour and has a slightly open, chalky texture without being dry.

The flavour is clean and slightly fruity with a nutty  tang that develops as it matures. £39 per kg

Mont d’Or

Unpasteurised, traditional rennet, cow’s milk

This delicious soft cheese with a bloomy rind is made in the Jura Mountains, on the French/Swiss border.  It is unusual in that it is made between August  and March, when winter weather traditionally prevented farms from taking their milk to the local dairy for making Comté.

Mont d’Or is made in cloth-lined moulds and encircled by pieces of spruce bark, which impart  a resinous flavour as it matures. It can be eaten with bread, or warmed gently in the oven to  make a simple fondue. The perfect wine to accompany it would be a fruity red Jura. £11.95 for 300g



Poppy & Linseed,  Malted, and Charcoal Crackers, all £2.99,

Celery & Sea Salt Oaties, £3.85,  all Paxton & Whitfield


Christmas Fruit Chutney from Rosebud Preserves is wonderfully rich, with prunes, dates, apricots, aromatic allspice and strong, dark ale.

Its Boxing Day Chutney is fresh, fruity and subtly spiced, with cranberries, Bramley apples and raisins. £3.40 and £3.30 for 198g, Rosebud Preserves

Hero Hirsh is the manager of  Paxton & Whitfield; 93 Jermyn St, London SW1; 020-7930 0259; Paxton and Whitfield