On Friday I was on Woman's Hour talking about my new cheese book. For those of you who don't know it it's one of BBC Radio 4s flagship programmes presented by one of their most popular presenters Jenni Murray. It has an amazing audience of some 3 million listeners so it's an honour to be invited - well worth the long cold trek from Bristol to Manchester where it's now recorded.
My fellow guest was the self-styled Cheese Detective (above) - a lovely guy called Peter Papprill who I know from way back when I first started in journalism in the early 90s. He sells British artisanal cheese to restaurants and organises various cheesy events. As you can hear if you listen in to the recording which should be up for a few more days he'd been asked to bring along a selection of cheeses that would make a suitable Christmas cheeseboard. I'd been asked to bring along one that would make an interesting cheeseplate.
My choice was a gorgeous two year old Gouda called Reypenaer I found in my local health food shop Stoneground (supplied by the Fine Cheese Company in Bath). Most Gouda - which is pronounced Gow-da by the way, not Goo-da - is so bland in this country that old Gouda comes as a revelation - deep and fruity with intense bursts of flavour from the tiny crystals that have formed in the cheese. A bit like an old parmesan. I suggest accompanying it with dried fruits like unsulphured dried apricots, figs and fresh Medjool dates and a sweet sherry or tawny port.
Peter brought along a Golden Cross goats log from Sussex, a triple-cream cheese called Elmhirst from the Sharpham Dairy in Devon, a Berkswell sheeps' cheese (one of my favourites), a Hafod cheddar from West Wales which I've written about enthusiastically before and Joseph Heler's Cheshire Blue, a new cheese on me - like a Shropshire Blue but creamier. It was apparently featured in a recent series of The Hairy Bikers. It made a good selection - Jenni was particularly taken with the Berkswell as she hadn't tried sheeps cheese before.
Thanks to Peter I now have a fridge full of cheese to play around with in the run-up to Christmas so I'll have to get cooking so as not to waste any. That Hairy Bikers Cheshire soup should be a good start.