Five local cheeses to enjoy this Christmas and New Year
- Credit: Archant
Christmas is on the doorstep and plenty of us will be in need of ways to keep our spirits up over the festive season.
While gatherings around the dinner table will be smaller, we can still enjoy the best the county has to offer - particularly on our cheeseboard.
Norfolk and Suffolk boast an impressive collection of cheesemongers, and we've selected just a handful, bought from Hodson & Co Cheese Room in Aylsham, to ensure you are keeping your cheeseboard local as we finish 2020 and head into the new year.
Created by producer Catherine Temple of Copy's Green Farm in Wighton, Mrs Temple's Binham Blue is a soft blue-veined cheese which has won awards and is a favourite for plenty of cheese lovers.
It's a smoothly-flavoured, creamy blue cheese, which will be strong enough for those who enjoy the bite of blue, but not overpowering for those looking for something less intense. It's akin to a Gorgonzola, and we enjoyed it with port.
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Again produced by Mrs Temple, Wells Alpine is a Gouda-like, semi-hard cheese. It's Norfolk's version of Gruyere - despite our obvious lack of Alpine mountains - and has a sweet, nutty flavour.
While it is lovely on a cheeseboard, particularly paired with a fig chutney, it would also be ideal for cooking - grate it into cheesy leeks or on top of a gratin.
From Fielding Cottage in Honingham, the name comes from the Norfolk term 'to mardle' - to have a chat or gossip. Mardler is a white, waxed, pasteurised goat's milk cheese with a sunshine yellow wax covering.
It has a creamy bite, and a mild goaty flavour which wouldn't be overpowering for those who are more keen on the cow's milk alternatives.
Fielding Cottage recommends using it in a goat's cheese and spinach tart, and say it melts particularly well.
Our third cheese from Mrs Temple, Walsingham is an artisan pasteurised cow's milk cheese.
It has a crumbly texture, and is reminiscent of cheddar (it's often described as a cross between that and Wendsleydale) - while it will certainly be a crowd pleaser on a cheeseboard, its versatility means you're unlikely to have leftovers.
St. Helena is a washed rind semi-firm cheese created by Blake Bowden in collaboration with renowned cheese maker Julie Cheyney of St Jude Cheese in Bungay.
It's milky, creamy and sweet and slightly similar to reblochon (the delicious cheese often used in tartiflette), and went perfectly with a crunchy chutney.
And a couple of extras...
A cheeseboard is nothing without the extras.
Stock up on fresh fruit from your local greengrocer, including pears, apples and grapes, and have some honey on hand for drizzling purposes.
You can also take advantange of the huge variety of local Norfolk chutneys - including The Garden Pantry and Candi's.
Or visit your local delicatessen - we opted for a Bray's pork pie with Fruit Pig black pudding, which was an absolute treat left cold, and would be as delicious warmed through in the oven.
We also had a Charlie Hodson sausage roll, which was perfectly seasoned and had light, fluffy pastry.