When composing a seasonal cheeseboard, the obvious choices may appear to be the cheeses that are fresh and made only a few days prior, like fresh goat’s curd or burrata. These young creamy cheeses would, of course, be amazing, delicious and “in season”. But this view would be overly simplistic and could lead to a cheeseboard containing very “samey” cheeses.
Composing a varied seasonal cheeseboard is a bit more sophisticated than just picking all the “in season cheese. It is really an exercise in logic and maths. Firstly, you need to think back to when the cheese was born, consider if it was the best time for its production, and calculate when would be the peak for its deliciousness. And secondly, you should try to include a variety of milks, textures, flavours and aromas on your cheeseboard to offer a remarkable experience to those who are going to enjoy the cheeseboard.
Below is my recommendation for a lovely Spring cheeseboard. It contains a variety of milks, textures, flavours and aromas and will impress any sophisticated palate.
Valençay: a soft goat’s milk cheese in season in spring, summer and autumn when goats have given birth and produce fresh milk. Minimum maturation is four to five weeks, so the first artisan Valençay of the season is available in April. Valençay is an example of a whole family of young goat’s milk cheeses that are spectacular come spring. Other examples are Chabichou du Poitou, Ste-Maure-de-Touraine, Pouligny-St-Pierre, Bouyguette and Vezelay.
Appenzeller "Extra": a classic mountain cheese from Switzerland with a gorgeous smooth and rich texture. There are three main varieties on the market: Classic (silver label) – three to four months old; Surchoix (gold label) – four to six months old; Extra (black label) – six months old, and "Edel Wurzig" - nine months+. Only the best wheels get to become ‘Extra’ and 'Edel Wurzig'. It is made with early autumn milk and therefore is incredibly flavoursome come spring.
Manchego Curado (nine months): firm ewe’s milk cheese that is synonymous with Spanish cheesemaking. Due to its popularity and mass appeal, it is available year-round if produced industrially. The best versions are artisan, especially if enjoyed extra mature. The cheeses produced during the height of summer when ewes are on grass will be ready to enjoy at the earliest the following spring.
Gorgonzola Piccante: this cheese is the lesser-known relation of the famous Gorgonzola Dolce but it is the original, whereas the milder Dolce version was invented much later to offer a wider appeal. This bold, spicy and firm blue cheese is matured for a minimum of six months, so if you enjoy it in Spring you will be tasting the complex and luscious milk collected at the end of the summer/early autumn.
The Cheese Lady x
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