Part 1 can be found here.

Landing pads for cheese are a vital component, broadly speaking there are two choices, bread or crackers. Different type of cheese fit one or other better than others. It is a personal choice, but in my mind there are some basic mistakes that should be avoided.

Under no circumstance should bleached white sliced bread like Wonderloaf ever come in contact with real cheese. Pre-sliced bread has no flavor and no tactile experience. Likewise it would be awful to use any cracker from the Saltine style with cheese. Saltines are for crumbling in soups and chili, they are not for cheese.

wonderbread

My favorite crackers for cheese are a style called water biscuits. There are many brands but I like Carrs, you can find them in even the supermarkets here in Picayune. I also recommend Jacobs, but they are rarer than a virgin at the Playboy Mansion.

jacobs

Bread is the other vital landing pad. My preference is a French or Italian loaf. Here in the deep south I have discovered that due to the high humidity it is impossible to buy a warm freshly made crusty loaf. As the brits would say, the bread is about as much fun as a limp willy. The solution is to cut a slab of bread, pre-heat the oven to as hot as it will go for ten minutes (500 degrees). Insert slab of bread for 2 minutes and retrieve. The crust will be crusty, the inside warm and soft.

Next is the lubricant. Under no circumstances should Margarine or Mayo be involved. Butter is the king! But not all butter is equal. Once again we hit the Wisconsin wall. Butter comes in two styles, Sweet (that means that salt has been added) and Unsalted. I am a fan of unsalted.

mayoTo accompany me on this cheese quest I have two butters, one is French, it has a silly French name and comes in a funny wicker basket, but it tastes great! The other is Irish Kerrygold. A butter I have not tasted in almost 40 years.

The rules of engagement for cheese are that Butter, Cheese, and bread (or crackers) are at room temperature. Butter unlike margarine or mayo will not spread if cold. Cheese, like a good red wine, needs to warm up to reveal its true personality.

The decision to make is crackers or bread? There are no hard and fast rules, in fact there are no rules at all. I have my foibles, Danish Blue and other cheeses of that style go best on crackers, as do Gouda and Edam. Maybe even Brie and Camembert have an infinity for crackers.

Cheddar, Derby, Cheshire, and other noble cheeses work best with bread. Actually I like to accompany them with Branston Pickle, or at a pinch Sharwoods Major Grey Mango Chutney. If you want to go all out, add a couple of pickled onions as well.

More soon.

Simon Barrett

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