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Our Christmas Boxes: Hows & Whys

the idea

Early on in the life of The Cheese Shed we hit on the idea of a Christmas cheese gift box which would amount to a complete cheeseboard in itself. Now for this to work we needed at least three cheeses - but having a couple more would work too. And if the cheeses were mainly whole cheeses, then they’d look great - and have better keeping properties too.

Our Christmas Threes, Fours and Fives were born - and they’ve been a fixture of every Christmas since.

how our boxes work

The names are pretty self-explanatory - the boxes have three, four or five cheeses - but there's one detail that’s worth explaining. For each cheese type, we’ll be choosing from two or three possibilities. So for example, the brie might be Sharpham or Bath Soft. We do this partly to protect ourselves - just in case a dairy hits a problem (it does happen!), but partly also to spread the benefit of Christmas around more makers. Email us if you want to specify cheeses, otherwise we’ll choose. And for more details, see the ‘about’ tab on any of the pages.

cheeseboard basics

With so many possibilities to choose from, creating a cheeseboard can be confusing. So just remember these two guidelines: 1) always start with a hard cows’ cheese, a blue and a brie, and 2) always think in terms of having different cheese types on the table. If you want more than three cheeses, just make sure any additions are from different ‘families’, such as:

- a ‘flavour-added’ cheese (it’ll have something extra - herbs, garlic, chilli etc);
- a contrasting (non-brie) soft cheese;
- a smoked cheese;
- a ‘washed rind’ cheese (one of the smelly ones!);
- a goats’ or sheeps’ milk cheese.

If you’re creating a cheeseboard, just remember these guidelines then relax and go for it.

On the other hand, you could let us do the thinking for you ...

the Christmas Three

This features the core three cheese types - a hard, a blue and a brie. For the hard cheeses, two of the ones we’re using come from Cornwall’s Sue Proudfoot: the Lancashire-ish Little Wheal and Cornish Smuggler (aka ‘the worlds prettiest cheddar’), whilst sweet, mellow, Curworthy comes from over the border in Devon. The blues will be either Dorset Blue Vinny, Cornish Blue or Devon Blue: all different, all lovely (these are the only ones that are not whole - they're wedges of 350-400g). Finally, the brie is going to be either Sharpham or Bath Soft, two superb examples of this family.

the Christmas Four

Now, remember that when you’re building up a cheeseboard you’re always looking for variety. You want to add something from a different family. So for this box we start with all three cheese types from the Christmas Three, but there's a fourth cheese - from the ‘flavour-added’ family. And the ones we're using are real corkers! Modern classic Sharpham Rustic - with either garlic & chives or caraway seeds - will be in some boxes, whilst Rachel Stephens's Dartmoor Chilli goes in others.

the Christmas Five

You’re getting the idea now. This box has one of each of the four cheese types above - hard, blue, brie, flavour-added - plus one more, a second soft cheese that is not a brie. Step forward the gooey marvel that is Helford White or ... Parke, a subtle fresh cheese. Made especially for us, Parke is made with added cream (!) and is then rolled in herbs.

So that’s it. Lots of variety, and Christmas crackers guaranteed!

Early Ordering Offer

I almost forgot. Order anything from this page before the end of November 15th and your name will go in the hat. Three names will be drawn out and each will receive a three-box Cheese Subscription worth £109!