‘We say in Italy that the mouth is not tired until it has tasted cheese,’ laughs Vintage’s resident cheese expert, Angelo Albera. The key to a good cheese board, according to Angelo, is diversity of texture and flavour, yet while cheese is the main focus, there are other important components that help round off the experience. Here, Angelo talks us through some of the more unusual cheeses on offer across the city, explaining where each is from, how it’s made and what it’s best eaten with.
1 Mimolette: This spicy Belgian cheese, also known as ‘Boule de Lille’, has a fruity finish and a crumbly consistency that lends itself well to being eaten with hop-based beverages (how very Belgian). Angelo recommends pairing it with a nice apple chutney.
2 Brie de Meaux: Soft and creamy with a fruity flavour, brie has an unmistakable taste and flavour, the latter due to the white mould. A good brie is also judged on its creaminess (the creamier the better), which depends on the quality of the milk used.
3 Morbier: This is a cheese of two distinctive layers separated by a layer of flavourless ash. Angelo says this separation was originally a way for dairy farmers to keep the morning milk apart from the evening curds. It’s a springy cheese with an aroma of fresh hay and a sweet, almost fruity taste.
4 Pont L’Évêque: Named after the town in Normandy in which it’s made, this is a semi-soft cheese with an edible crust. ‘It’s quite intense,’ says Angelo. ‘You need to eat it with something sweet, like a good honey.’
5 Taleggio: In 1988 this cheese was granted a presidential decree, raising its status to that of other famous Italian cheeses such as gorgonzola and parmeggiano reggiano. This semi-pasteurised cheese, made in the Po Valley (which is located in the western Alpine region), has a rosy crust and creamy texture, with a distinct, pungent smell and a nutty flavour. Chef Angelo explains that the taste of Taleggio lends itself perfectly to being eaten with pear or apple slices.
6 Dorset Drum: As you’d guess from its name, the Dorset Drum hails from the southern UK county of Dorset. The compact cheese is preserved in a black wax and has a very sweet taste. Chutney matches its flavour nicely.
7 Shropshire Blue: Despite being named after a northern English county, the Shropshire Blue originates from bonnie Scotland. It’s a visually arresting cheese thanks to the contrast between its deep orange colour and the blue mould, a natural enzyme that mellows the strength of the cheese. According to Angelo, grapes or a sliced apple are the ideal accompaniment. This cheese board is available at Vintage and costs Dhs199, including home-made chutney, fresh bread and infused honeys. Served Wed 7pm-10pm. Vintage, Wafi, Oud Metha (04 324 4100).