Christmas is not Christmas without overindulging in one of life’s greatest pleasures…cheese! Once the pressies are done, and you have one of your grateful relatives stacking the dishwasher for you, then it’s time to finish them all off with the cheeseboard.

In Europe the cheese board is usually served after the main meal. Cheese is served before dessert in France and Europe, and it’s served after dessert in other parts such as the U.K. – here is Australia we don’t mind a cheese and charcuterie board before the main event. Whenever you serve it though, there are similarities throughout.

A cheeseboard can contain as many or as few cheeses as you wish, and the accompaniments again are up to you. They range from a various selection of crackers and lavosh to cheese biscuits, chutneys, fresh fruit and fruit jellies or pastes. Whatever takes your fancy really, but I would follow the following guidelines for a successful and balanced cheese board.

Cheese Selection

Try to choose between five and eight cheeses of differing styles, I go for a mix of soft and hard and have one or two blues and perhaps a goat cheese. Some of the world-famous cheeses should always be present but I always try to include something local as well. All cheeses should be room temperature so get them out well before you plan to present them. You can make up your cheeseboard and leave it wrapped with a tea towel in the pantry to save time later.

Darren's International Cheeseboard

Pyengana Clothbound Cheddar
Pyengana, Tasmania

A world class cheddar as good as anything you’ll find in. Europe it is in fact Australia’s oldest farmhouse clothbound cheddar. Pyengana is usually released to the market at 12 months old and has gentle buttery notes and hints of bite, it’s a cheese that’s perfect for all day grazing.

Comte
Comte-fraiche, France

The second hard cheese is the ever-popular Comte. This cheese can be eaten anytime of the day and it exhibits a beautiful floral aroma with distinct flavours reminiscent of cashews and honey.

Taleggio
Lombardy, Italy

My first soft cheese comes in the form of an irresistible Taleggio from Italy. This washed rind cheese has a sweet milky flavour, and a fragrance that has underlying notes of yeast. Only purchase this if it is ripe.

Epoisses
France

Pungent, heady and entirely delicious, this soft, washed rind cheese will perk them up from their afternoon slumber.

Roquefort
Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, France

This raw sheep’s milk blue with its incredibly strong blue notes is an amazing cheese. It has a fragile melt in the mouth texture and lingering blue spice. It is beautiful when contrasted with fruit spreads especially plum or cherry. This is also, surprisingly, a pleasant companion to bitter dark chocolate.

Stilton
England

Probably the cheese that has the greatest association with Christmas, it is milder than Roquefort with a slightly courser texture. It is absolutely delicious with walnut bread and is a must in my house at this time of year.

Holy Goat La Luna
Victoria, Australia

A world-class goat cheese made into a ring shape, hailing from Victoria the cheese makers produce wonders with goat milk. They produce many excellent products buy this aromatic and creamy cheese is their most famous.

Tip: Start with a big board so you can create a stunning presentation with enoughspace between each cheese for easy cutting snd serving. Overcrowding the display compromises both aesthetics and practicality.

Darren's Australian Cheese Selection

With so many outstanding cheese producers in Australia there are no shortage of incredible choices, below are just some of my favourites.

That’s Amore Stracciatella
Victoria, Australia

There’s rarely an occasion in my life that doesn’t call for Burrata or Stracciatella and as most Aussie Cheeseboards seem to kick start proceedings then Stracciatella is a must. That’s Amore Stracciatella is made from fresh Gippsland buffalo milk. It has a delicate and milky aroma. Pearl white in color, salty and sweet, it’s known for being the creamy heart of the burrata. It is produced by bathing ribbons of mozzarella in fresh cream. As it’s summer I will serve this with a fresh cherry tomato and herb salsa and sourdough focaccia

Holy Goat La Luna -Barrel
Sutton Grange, Victoria, Australia

As mentioned earlier, I love Holy Goat, it’s a very special small farm in Sutton Grange, Victoria. This time I’ve chosen La Luna Barrel.  It’s a little goaty, tangy and peppery, and their most awarded cheese. I’ve chosen the barrel not only for taste but also for it’s “moonscape’ rind presentation. This cheese loves chutney and rye bread

Pyengana Clothbound Cheddar
Pyengana, Tasmania

Also chosen for my international selection. Pyengana is close to my heart and a long time favourite of mine. I don’t mind a bit of quince paste with this one but I also love it with anything pickled, like onions and cornichons. 

Long Paddock Drift Wood
Castlemaine Victoria

This funky bark-belted soft cheese is in the style of Vacherin Mont d’Or. It has a thin bloomy rind and the paste is creamy, becoming more oozy as it ages. It has a mild creamy and nutty, flavour, which increases in aroma and taste with age. I like mine ripe and runny and I cut the top rind off to leave a gorgeous soft interior that’s perfects for dipping my favourite seed crackers

Berry’s Creek ‘Riverine Blue’,
South Gippsland VIC.

Another buffalo milk cheese choice but this multi award-winning cheese is hard to go past. It’s a stunning with cheese with a soft and creamy texture cheese streaked with piercing blue and green molds. It has an attractive lightly moldy rind that is a must for eating if you enjoy cheesy barnyard characteristics like me.

Raw Milk C2 Cheese,
Bruny Island Tasmania

This award-winning Alpine Style hard cheese was the first raw milk cheese to be produced in Australia. It’s a classic cooked curd cheese matured for 4-8 months to produce a sweet and nutty flavour and cements my love for all things Tasmanian. I love this cheese with homemade bread and butter pickles. I desperately hope there will be enough left over for a late night toastie.

When selecting accompaniments for my cheese board, my decision-making is influenced by the season and time of day. For pre-meal cheese board, I tend to favour savoury options such as olives, pickles, and a variety of charcuterie. After the main course, my inclination leans towards a sweeter selection, with juicy cherries, grapes and figs in the summer and crisp pears, apples, and rich muscatels in colder months.

If you invest time in preparing accompaniments, serve them strategically alongside or scatter (where appropriate) over the complementary cheeses. This will guide your guests to enjoy the combinations as you intended and elevate the visual appeal.

But most importantly make it easy for your guests to enjoy. Provide the right utensils, side plates, condiments and crackers. Try slicing wheels in half or presenting wedges so they can comfortably dive in, without embarrassment and enjoy the experience.

These are my curds of wisdom and let’s pray to ‘cheese-us’ everyday!

Darren x