Having friends over for (French) wine and (French) cheese?
When in Rome, let the chutneys, pickles and crackers shine! We had a chat with founder of wine and cheese shop Provisions Hugo Meyer-Esquerré, who knows a thing or two about putting together a cracking cheese platter. He shares his tips on how to showcase the best of both countries.
First things first, odd numbers rule in the world of cheese. So you’ll want to pick three or five, different in style to play with the textures and tastes. Meyer-Esquerré is not a huge fan of flavoured crackers, as they should play a supporting role rather than adding extra complexity. He likes his thin and crisp, like the sea salt biscuits by Cornish bakery Popti.
Start softly, with goat’s cheese from the Loire region, something like a Crottin de Chavignol or a Selles-sur-Cher. Chalky yet tender, salty but not too much… Pair it with the pear, date and ale chutney from England Preserves, handmade in Bermondsey. It brings sweetness to that fresh cheese and is a great way to kick things off.
Then move on to a washed-rind number, matured 60-90 days, something with more salinity and more aromatic. It can be a fruity Reblochon from the Alps or he’d go for a more powerful, stickier Munster-géromé with a bright orange rind. A good match for this unpasteurised cow's milk cheese from the Vosges? Choose a red onion marmalade with a hint of spice and a splash of white wine in it. To wash it down, opt for a good bitter pale ale from Kernel, one of the best and oldest microbreweries in London.
Round it off with a more unusual cheese: an old Salers. Picalilli is great here, as it will contrast sharply with this semi-hard pressed cheese from the volcanic region of Auvergne. The crunchy and mustardy condiment will live up nicely to the acidity and bitterness.
Provisions Wine & Cheese
167 Holloway Road,
London N7 8LX