Tag Archives: cheddar




Guest blog by Dan Simpson


A cheeseboard at Christmas is de rigueur these days, and the supermarkets want to make it easy for you by offering a convenient cheese selection pack. Why spend two minutes choosing your own cheeses from the same shelves for a lovingly custom-made cheeseboard when you can just buy this and be done with it? I’ve eaten three of these atrocities over the holidays, and I’ll tell you why.

I have attempted to write individual reviews of the seven cheeses on offer in this selection: a difficult task, given that were you to spear a bit of any of these cheeses at random, you would not be able to distinguish one from another. The box says to “Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving to allow flavours to develop” – though you needn’t bother, since the flavours develop like a poorly-taken low-light night-time photograph: you wonder why you even bothered in the first place.


Brie is a bad karaoke version of cheese: the coward’s Camembert. And Camembert is itself a spineless cop out in the face of Vacherin. To choose Brie is to say: I don’t know what I’m doing, and I despise taste. But we have not chosen Brie: it has been chosen for us in this box of cheese-approximations. Which is appropriate, given your decision to buy this selection in the first place.


Some will say that cheddar – the most popular and, yes, often blandest of British cheeses – deserves no place on a civilised cheeseboard. Those people are snobs, and wrong: an aged cheddar, full of flavoursome bite and crunchy tyrosine crystals, is a strong part of the line-up, holding its own against the blues and soft Frenches. This cheddar is not that. This is a disgrace: not just to cheddar, but to all cheese.

Red Leicester

Indistinguishable from the cheddar, aside from the highlighter-pen-neon orange.


When chewing on this theoretically hard cheese, all rubber texture and polybutadiene taste, you may be forgiven for thinking that you forgot to remove the plastic that each of these cheeses comes vacuum-sealed in. Looking down to check and realising that no, this is it, this is the experience of this cheese, it may cross your mind to fish the packaging out of the bin and eat that instead.


This is acceptable, in the way that Stilton often is. It tastes like a blue cheese: no more, no less. Your cheese selection is in trouble if this is the best thing on offer.

Austrian smoke flavoured processed cheese

This cheese doesn’t even have a proper name, merely a description of what it is. It’s an obvious joke told by an observational comic – with a bad Austrian accent designed to cover the deficiency of thought behind it. Adding ‘Austrian’ to the name to give it some continental gravitas is a superficial marketing trick no one is fooled by. And, given what Tesco have already done to Edam and Brie here, I can’t blame the EU for wanting nothing more to do with us.

Wensleydale with Cranberries

Grow up and buy some chutneys, and allow people to decide what fruit-flavours they want with their cheese – instead of foisting dried-up bits of cranberries into our mouths, which have the consistency and appeal of dead flies.


The word ‘selection’ in this product is a lie – it implies that thought and care has gone into the choosing of these cheeses. This is a magnificent smorgasbord of sub-mediocrity, adding up to much less than the sum of their parts. A cheeseboard can be a glorious showstopper: a bountiful overflowing of colours and shapes, textures and taste. Thoughtlessly bunging out this greyed-out selection box wastes that potential, and makes a mockery of indulgence at Christmas. Am I saying that this cheese selection has the power to singlehandedly ruin Christmas? Bitter experience says: yes.


*It’s still cheese, and cheese is always welcome




By Mansour Chow

Allow me, if I may, to review a concoction of my own creation. Please allow me this self indulgence; it’s important for my self-worth.

Recently I had “crab flavoured surimi sticks” with cheddar cheese in a wholemeal toasted sandwich. And it was bloody delicious.

Okay, okay, so it wasn’t fucking gourmet! What is this obsession with gourmet? Not everything has to be Michelin-starred to be enjoyable, you know. Sorry, it doesn’t contain rabbit meat or quinoa. Yes, obviously I’d rather eat a meal at Hawksmoor but I don’t know who you think you are turning your nose up at my creation.

What? You’re okay with salmon and cream cheese sandwiches yet you have the audacity to shake your head at my crab stick and cheddar cheese toasted sandwich? Well, go on. Keep it up. Keep that snide look on your face and I’ll fucking deck you. I’ll punch your bloody lights out, if that’s what you want. You want a fight with me? If you want a fight, I’ll give you a fight. I’ll fight you right fucking here if I have to. What have you ever created that you have the ilk to insult me like that? I’ll punch you in the groin and the face at the same time. I don’t care if it’s a low-blow. If you’ve got a problem with my sandwich then say it to my goddamn face. So what were you saying? Yeah, I thought so.

What makes this such a good meal is that it’s cheap, nutritious and very easy to make. All you need is a toaster (or a grill), some cheddar cheese, maybe some flora or mayonnaise (I used my housemate’s Flora in my sandwich – remember: stealing is cheaper than buying) and some crab flavoured bites (I used about six but you do what you fucking like, I’m not your mother).



What really pushes this meal up an echelon is its accessibility. It’s a meal for the Everyman. You want an unnecessary analogy about it? Okay, here you go. It’s the school-lunchtime equivalent of playing football with your mates using a tennis ball. Yeah, it’s not as good as a football, but it will do, especially if you’ve forgotten to bring a ball or you don’t have the money for a football (or you’re too lazy to go and get one).

If you don’t have the money and you’re that desperate for a proper football, I suppose you can always sell some of your stupid pogs or tazos (or whatever you kids do these days), or you can complain to your mum that everyone has a football, and, later, cry your bloody eyes out because she got you a Sondico instead of a Mitre Delta.

“I’m not bringing a fucking Sondico in to school with me, mum. Do you think I’m some sort of cunt? They’ll all bully me,” you might say. “It’s bad enough that I’m walking around in fucking Clarks when all my mates are wearing Kickers, but now you want me to bring a fucking Sondico in. Do I have cunt written on my forehead? I’m calling social services. This is fucking abuse if you expect me to come to school with a fucking Sondico,” you’d be pertinent to add.

Your mum would then probably say something about being ungrateful and unreasonable and about how much she works and how hard she tries to support you and how she wishes you’d appreciate how difficult it is for her. “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” she’d finish with, which would really set you off.

“I know money doesn’t grow on trees,” you’d say. “I’m not a fucking idiot, mum. Do you think I’m an idiot? Do you think you have to tell me that money doesn’t grow on trees for me to realise that money doesn’t grow on trees? Don’t you dare think you can fool me into pitying you, you shithead. You’ve already ruined my life by making me wear Gola’s in PE class. Now you’re literally trying to kill me. I hate you. I fucking hate you and I hope you fucking die.”

In conclusion, teenagers are awful.



Look, I’m not saying this is the kind of shit they might have eaten in the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916 – but most would find the ingredients that follow moderately challenging to their perceptions of the world, and indeed the entire concept of ‘the sandwich’:


Black pudding (Sainsbury’s)

A third of a fresh beetroot (found, grated)

A third of an on-the-turn red onion (found, grated)

Mature cheddar (newsagent, grated)

Pitta bread (brown, Sainsbury’s)


Firstly, in mitigation, my girlfriend eats better than me, hence coming across the vegetables that inspired this potential flavour sensation.

There are some divisive foods here. In reverse order of divisiveness I’d say Pitta > newsagent cheddar > beetroot > black pudding > any foods that are on the turn. It was a very metallic experience as sandwiches go – the sort of thing Kraftwerk were probably eating during the recording of Man Machine. For a few bites, however, it seemed quite palatable, but this experience was not to last. Bad flavours happened.

Indeed, true to form, it was the on-the-turn red onion that did the sandwich in, providing a flavour so acrid it reminded me of second-hand petroleum fumes from a second-hand engine carried in an estate car with the windows down – something I have first-hand childhood experience of with a self-employed motor mechanic father. Four chocolate digestives were required to take away the bulk of the aftertaste, but remnants remained hours later.

The key message of this blog in essence is don’t eat raw things that are on the verge of mould.

EFFORT: 7/10

RESULT: 2/10