Entries in christmas cheese (2)


Christmas Cheese, Port and Presents from Marks and Spencer

 Cheese and Christmas have two words ever been more synonymous.  This is the time of year to really enjoy rich and creamy cheeses.  Marks and Spencer as always have a wonderful selection.  I particularly like their Christmas gift box with an Apricot, Ginger and Sage chutney, some nutty crackers and four very good cheeses.  

 To this I added Cashel Blue, my favourite blue Irish Cheese - one that always satisfies whether a wedge on a cracker or a piece melting on the top of a steak.  It is smooth, creamy and rich.  

Cashel Blue is made at Beechmount a 200 acre farm in County Tipperary from grass-fed milk, it is a pure and perfect cheese.  And, has been one of Ireland's favourites for over 30 years.

The Marks and Spencer selection of cheeses include a Double Glouster, Gould's mature cheddar, a Shropshire Blacksticks blue and Raven's oak goat's cheese.

I serve my cheeses on a simple Donegal slate plate.


 This Cranberry, golden raisin, clementine and brandy stilton is sweet and smooth, a favourite with those who like their cheeses a little sweeter.

 It works well with the crunchy seeded crackers and a blob of apricot, sage and ginger chutney.

 Cheese Boards are instant meals or snacks.  Serve with chutney, lots of crackers and some smooth things to drink.

 Port and Cheese - that phrase brings back so many memories for me from my days in the little grey toon of St Andrews.  

Grahams "The Tawny" is a perfect present for a porter lover or one to serve with cheese.  It is light in colour with a warming rich flavour.  This deep, golden-amber port haa rich bouquet of orange peel, cinnamon and dried fruits, particularly raisins, prunes and figs. The palate fruity, with cherry flavours and a long, clean finish.


 I especially like its presentation box this is one for Uncle's, Papa's and Daddy's.  It is also great with Christmas Pudding at the end of Christmas Dinner.

 Marks and Spencer Rare Cream Sherry is a bit like drinking mince pies - sweet rich and luscious.  Aged in the unique Solera systems of old oak barrels, it is transformed into a wonderfully complex nutty fortified wine, which is blended with a little Pedro Ximez to add rich, raisin sweetness and luscious body.

 Santa in our house likes sweet sherry and mince pies - what does your santa like to nibble and drink when he visits to leave presents?

 Marks and Spencer all butter mince pies are moist and juicy with plump fruit in the filling, and a light, golden pastry casing.  Oh they are so good, when I was tasting Dad popped in and he said, 'I just keep eating these mince pies they are so tasty.'  A sure sign of success.

 Tea and Toast - is there any better comfort food.  I kid you not, tea and toast seems to cure all ills.  As Storm Barbara batters against my window the driving rain and pounding rain are making great swell for surfers which I can watch from my window.  I am snuggling down to tea and toast.  And, it is an idea for an original Christmas present - fresh baked bread from the artisan range at Marks and Spencer.  I choose Irish Wheatnen and the Pecan and Cranberry loaf, wrap them in a tea towel to allow the bread to breathe and give with some Irish Country Butter and Marks and Spencer sparkling prosecco apricot jam and runny Spanish honey with slices of orange.



 With a love for everything sparkly this conserve makes me think of warmer summer days because of its bright apricot flavour.


 Orange blossom honey from Spain is a realy treat, the thin pieces of orange peel bring a depth of flavour.


 A biscuit from a tin and a cup of tea, right there is another cure for ills.  There's not much a cup of tea and a biscuit can't help.  For 2017 get yourself a selection of teas from Marks and Spencer and this fabulous robin shortbread biscuit tin.  It will brighten the most deary January days.  And while you're at it buy one for friends as well - a great present for bird lovers, next door neighbours and friends in need of something comforting.

 Cranberry and dark chocolate jaffa cakes ... just lovely with a good cup of tea.

 While your buying your Christmas pudding buy two or three more and hand them into shelters or churches that are packing hampers, or have a food bank.  There are more food banks than ever before inthe UK and they really need us to supply them with great products.

This Marks and Spencer Australian Shiraz from the Limestone South Coast is a great one for sipping or giving. A rich Aussie Shiraz packed full of autumnal fruit flavours of apple and pear, and blackberry.  There are warm spicy pepper aromas over a voluptuous yet surprisingly elegant palate.  

I really love this Marks and Spencer Silver Frond vibrant dry Sauvignon that is bursting with ripe gooseberry flavours.  A herbal aromamatic nose with undertones of luscious fresh lime and crushed nettle palate, it is fun and sparkly perfect to liven up any Christmas dinner. It is from New Zealand’s Marlborough region, an area of sun-kissed vineyards set among pristine lakes, rivers and hills – a haven for the Sauvignon Blanc grape to grow. M&S winemaker Jeneve Williams made this wine with local winemaker Andrew Blake of Giesen, sourcing grapes from a number of prime vineyards to really show off the quality and clarity of the region’s fruit.  Grape Variety: 99% Sauvignon Blanc, 1% Pinot Gris

This Marks and Spencer Christmas cake is spicy,  with rich fruit flavours, brandy-laced and royal-iced with sparkling poinsettas.  It is a masterpiece for your table.  

 Matured for eight months, it is filled with port-soaked Vostizza currants that are grown in the mountains in the Aeghion region of Greece, in a microclimate and rich soil that help give them a distinct flavour, while the flame raisins are dried from extra sweet and juicy red grapes.  

 Serve it with a good cup of tea or a glass of Grahams Tawny Port.


Merry Christmas my friends, may your day be full of joy and laughter.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable 


Favourite Christmas Cheeses from Marks and Spencer

The three ladies were debating the merits of turkey curry, versus turkey stew for a Christmas Day evening party for 16 people.  The coment I kept hearing was 'I don't want to do much cooking. It is Christmas day, after all.'

I was absolutely exhasuted just listening to this conversation that seemed to go back and forth, without actually finding a resolution.

Trying to keep quiet at times like this is not my forte, especially when I have solutions that are elegant and easy; and involve lots of lovely cheese from Marks and Spencer.

These peppery breaded camembert when cooked until the insides are molten and bubbly ooze soft sweet cheese, that goes well with a cranberry port sauce.  They make an elegant starter, or a side dish; or even relaxed kitchen supper.  I serve mine with a chopped spinach salad, and Marks and Spencer red and black pepper mixed nuts.  The crunchy bite of the nut making a comfortable juxtaposition against the hot slippery cheese.

Cheeseboards are as verstile as they are stylish.  They can work for a wide range of occasions and feed lots of people well at once.  I always prefer a cheese plate at parties to dishes of canapes.  It is filling, works well for boys who always complain about the lack of proper food at a drinks party.  I have yet to hear boys or men complain when offered cheese.  This Marks and Spencer slate plate comes with four cheese from local British and French suppliers.  

I serve it with grapes and Marks and Spencer red black pepper nuts.  If you have to bring a well rounded cheeseboard with interesting cheeses - a mix of smoked Leicester, mature cheddar, camembert and a blacksticks blue.

When I travel I always take note of ideas and whys and ways with food, I think will come in handy at a later date.  Such as a cheese board served in cubes of cheese.  I first tried this at an Art Gallery in Oakville, just outside Toronto.  Several types of cheese had been cut into cubes and then served with cocktail sticks for people to help themselves with a range of chutneys, crackers and little pieces of meat. 

A genuis idea that I quickly adopted to great success - because when you serve cheese like this, you have a) an idea how much you need to serve roughly 4-7 cubes per person, b) it is easy for the guest to help themselves to some cheese, without having to cut it, getting the knife stuck or leaving the plate looking messy.

It is always good to leave the cheese plate looking lovely for the person who comes behind you.  

Another way to serve cheese, is melted and oozing.  Bake camenbert is one of my favourite ways to serve this particular type of cheese, and it makes an instant fondue.  I even have a ittle camenbert bowl to bake the cheese in.  The Marks and Spencer French Camenbert is silkly smooth and perfectly ripe at the moment.  If you don't have a dish you can bake it in a small roasting tin with a foil lid.  

To prepare for baking unwrap the cheese, then pierce some holes in the top grate with a microplane grater a clove of garlic over the top, press into the cheese.  Then add a couple of teaspoons of white wine.  Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and really runny.

Serve with a range of unsalted nuts and crackers, or Marks and Spencer cheese crisp bites.  I particularly like the rosemary and pistachio ones.

 Whenever you have to serve lots of people I always think it is a good idea to opt for an indoors table picnic.  Plates laden with cheeses, pate, parnsip crisps,nuts,chutneys and black grapes. 

 Serve these with a range of Marks and Spencer crackers or sliced bakery breads.


 Marks and Spencer cheese and biscuits or crackers, with a bottle of something fruity always make a welcome hostess present or actual Christmas present.

 I love giving these waxed shaped cheddars which come in a range of flavours like balsamic pickled onion, cranberry and blueberry.  The cheese is tangy and sour with a rounding sweet note on the palate.  Cheese for Americans who don;t like flavoursome cheeses, this is not.


 Do you love mulled wine?  I do enjoy it but I have a confusion to make, I don't love it.  I find it too full bodied and heavy when heated.  And, unless it is well made it is usually rocket fuel as opposed to drinkable glugg.  Enter Marks and Spencer Rose wine - for any of you who preper a lighter mull this rose is absolutely delightful.  Ripe, fruity sweet but not sugary, zingy without being sour.  It refreshes and cleanses the palate.

 There is nothing like a glass of port at Christmas - whether you drink it and eat cheese at the same time is up to you.  There are lots of schools of thought on this, I suggest you do what your tastebuds enjoy.

Mix this fruity beauty with blood-orange juice, some clementine juice and Marks and Spencer citrus-flavoured vodka and fresh lime juice to make a punch - serve it in a bowl with big glass cups.  Or pour into champage, or over chocolate ice cream, or simply sip slowly.

A bottle of red wine is always a welcome present.  Marks and Spencer have a really good range of wines on the High Street.  Such as this Grenache shiraz mourvèdre from Australia.  The Marananga Dam Grenache Shiraz Mourvédre has a vintage of 2012 and is a wonderfully rich, spicy red with heart-warming flavours of ripe plums, mocha and black pepper.  For this exclusive blend, renowned winemaker David Powell used fruit from 50 year old vines, blending rich Grenache with peppery Shiraz and savoury Mouvedre. He then matured the wine for 18 months in French oak barrels for added complexity

Merry Christmas everyone,

That's it for now ...



Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable