12 November 2017

You can't go wrong with a cheeseboard

I'm not sure why we only really associate cheeseboards with Christmas in England. If I had it my way, I'd indulge year round - but then maybe I wouldn't appreciate them so much? The combo of cheese, crackers and chutney is my weakness; once I have one, I can't stop.

I timed my cheeseboard plans with going home and a whirlwind day trip to Bruges with P&O ferries (the Bruges Christmas market starts soon, go go go!). We picked up a selection of cheeses at Carreforre to accompany the chutneys, the latter courtesy of The English Provender Co.

I popped out to get some crackers, and gave my Mum strict instructions to "Please VM up" the conservatory - it's all about the good lighting, after all.

Safe to say, she absolutely smashed it. Thanks, Mumma!

Cheese, from left to right: Gouda, Mimolette and Brie

And what is a cheeseboard without a hefty measure of port? Ours hails from the Co-op, FYI (it scored top five in the Good Housekeeping review, so I think it's quite good).

Chutney, from left to right: Caramelised Red Onion, Hot Chili & Red Pepper, Plum & Apple 

I went for my favourite cheese first: brie.

That feeling when you're about to slice through soft cheese... just me?


I decided to brave it and pair the mild cheese with a bit of spice, so got stuck in, dolloping the chutney on my (first) cracker.

How cute is my plate, by the way? It's the one I hand-painted (okay, stencilled, same thing) at the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke-on-Trent.

The label said the chutney was laced with jalapenos and a touch of scotch bonnet, so I thought it would blow my head off. However, it only offered a hint of heat and was more than bearable. This is coming from someone who can't handle anything hotter than tikka masala at a curry house... So maybe a slightly misleading name? Regardless, it was delicious.

My next endeavour was a cheese and chutney sandwich, so I cut my slices of tiger bread (i.e. the best bread ever) in half, and split it between Caramelised Red Onion with gouda...

... and Plum & Apple with the orange-hued mimolette.

I tried to arrange the cheese artfully, but I think even describing what I put together as 'rustic' is generous. Spot the Emma Bridgewater cutlery (we're a bit partial to her, as you may have noticed), and how pretty are the inside of the chutney lids?

"Making life delicious since 1979"

And the 'finished' product... which was due to be smooshed together into a sandwich and devoured very quickly, regardless of how it looked.

So how did they taste?

Caramelised Red Onion is probably the most familiar - sweet, but not too sweet, chunky, but not too chunky. It's neutral enough to sit with mild and mature cheeses, and stilton if you fancy. It was my stepdad's favourite.

I was most intrigued by the Plum & Apple one, however, which had a consistency more like a jam. It was delicious, but very sweet. I'd pair this one with a more mature cheese to offset it; with the mild cheese it was a bit overpowering. English Provender offer cheese and chutney pairing suggestions (and recipes) on their website - handy!

Packaging-wise, English Provender have had a revamp, colour coding the chutneys according to ingredients and incorporating its ingredients into an illustration which circles the name. I like it a lot, and the pots would sit happily in a countryside kitchen - it seems a shame to shut them away in a cupboard.

The chutneys are widely available - although I'd never heard of them before now - at all your standard supermarkets: Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Tesco, Asda... and Costco. Wonder if that means you can find jumbo versions...

**These chutneys were gifted to me by The English Provender. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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