Paxton & Whitfield's top tips for a Christmas cheeseboard

Hero Hirsh, manager of the cheesemonger's Jermyn Street flagship, serves up suggestions for a festive homage to fromage


(Image credit: Peter Marston)

When putting together a cheeseboard, you need to keep in mind the occasion. If it's for a buffet, for example, you might want to include lots of different styles of cheese for an indulgent offer. When it's part of a meal, however, I think people tend to get carried away with too many options. I personally like to go for three or four – more than that and you risk it being confusing on the palate. It also means you can buy generous-looking chunks of good cheeses instead of spindly pieces of nine or ten.

Generally, we recommend allowing 4oz per person, but the serving size is increased for Christmas; it's an occasion where people tend to go back to the cheeseboard after several hours and have another go. You probably want to up the portion size to 6oz, or even 8oz if you want leftovers as it's such as easy meal to have on Boxing Day and, of course, it doesn't involve any more cooking.

It's good to have a choice of styles – a soft and a hard cheese, a washed rind or a goat's cheese – to create a mixture of milks and textures. And if you have a blue cheese, the classic option is, of course, Stilton and it's important to get a really good one – we do a lovely Cropwell Bishop. The version you buy at supermarkets has often spent a lot of its life at very cold temperatures, but if you go to a proper cheesemonger you can have it cut from a whole cheese, knowing it's been looked after rather than frozen and wrapped in plastic. If you don't want Stilton, our Cote Hill Blue is a softer style from Lincolnshire and has an almost brie-like quality, so ticks two boxes on your cheeseboard.

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It can be tricky to find accompaniments that work with all styles, so it's best to opt for something fruity and not too sweet or vinegary. Quince paste works well because it has a purity of fruit to it, and anything with figs is also very versatile. It's good to have a selection of crackers so you can mix and match according to the cheese.

In terms of drinks to serve with your cheeseboard, I personally love tawny port. It's not something I have all year round so it's a real festive treat. It complements lots of different types of cheeses, so you can have it with a triple cream such as a Brillat Savarin or with Gruyere, cheddars and much more.

HERO HIRSH is the manager of Paxton & Whitfield’s flagship shop on Jermyn Street, Piccadilly, London;

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