Sunday, 9 June 2013

DIY Cheese Tower and being terribly sorry.....

The terribly sorry bit is an apology for my absence for the last 2 MONTHS! I have been preparing to legally become Mrs Burr and last Saturday this happened. We got married at Windsor Guildhall in bright sunshine to rapturous applause from a thousand tourists and most of the restaurants up on Church Street.

I was so nervous and rather stressed the night before as we had chosen to do a bit of a DIY wedding and so the prep was heinous. After tipis went up, tables were laid and cake was created, everyone left except the puppy and I set to decorating the Cheese Tower which had been delivered the day before.

Most of my greatest triumphs have occurred when I have been totally strung out, early in the morning and the Cheese was no exception.
The cheese was courtesy of The Cheese Shed, who were excellent and their website is a huge amount of fun even if you don't need a cheese tower. The Cheese builder tool provides hours of fantasy cheese shopping.

There are ready selected towers online but we decided created our own and chose a 4 kg wheel of Wensleydale as a nice sturdy base, then a Smoked Wedmore on top, all 2.4 kg of it. The smoked cheese gave the whole tower a wonderful aroma, you could really smell it coming, and the orange rind was a lovely zing of colour against the pale Wensleydale.
As we had lots of pregnant ladies we opted for all pasteurised cheeses and the hard goats cheese we sampled was creamy and so moreish. Woolsery is four month matured and from Dorset, it is now my new favourite cheese and I have it on good authority that it makes superb cheese on toast.

As a nod to our friends from the west country we topped the Woolsery with a Cornish Yarg. Covered in a nettle skin it has a very rustic look and has a satisfying crumble. The key to choosing your cheeses has got to be style as well as taste and the Yarg has both in heaps.

No Cheese Tower worth its biscuits leaves out the blue, and although we originally ordered the Cornish Blue we ended up with Colston Bassett Stilton, which was apt as working in that dairy was one of my first jobs. I was the smelliest 17 year old in the village but boy did I get to eat a lot of cheese.

The two smallest cheeses were Eve and Gevrik which are both soft goats cheeses, however in the picture you can't see the Gevrik as I believe it was nommed before the cheese hit the table. I'm giving a suspicious sideways glance to my mother.

To decorate the cheese I placed the Wensleydale on a big chopping board. Nothing fancy, just the one I use everyday but given a really good scrub and dried well.

On the board I laid some safe flat foliage and herbs. You can use fennel fronds or spicy globes, flowering chives also look lovely but hard to find unless you grow them yourselves. Place the first cheese on the foliage and layer other herbs of your choice on top of the first wheel. I used Rosemary between the Wensleydale and the Wedmore and placed small, hard white buds and Lemon Thyme between the Yarg and the Stilton.

To add some colour and texture to the tower and to provide some garnish, I used Muscat grapes and yellow and red cherry tomatoes. Muscat grapes are a lovely muted purple colour and aren't as bright or uniform as the regular black or green grapes you snack on. Muscat grapes are available at Waitrose along with cherry tomatoes in different colours and shapes. To secure the grapes and tomatoes all you need are lots of cocktail sticks, pointed at an angle into the cheese at regular intervals. Its best to put the grapes onto the cocktail sticks, stalk hole first. Obviously, 'stalk hole' isn't the technical term.

If your little tomatoes have the green pith leaves from the vine still on them then attach them through the bottom to show off some colour contrast.
I really wanted to decorate the cheese with Physalis too, as their soft orange colour and brown papery leaves are perfect for the overall natural look. Unfortunately, I just couldn't find any. Nor could I get hold of any fresh figs which would look charming cut in half and placed on the board.

As with everything, less is more and although there are so many ways of decorating a tower in line with any theme, I garnished delicately and ultimately let the cheese do the talking.

I am so pleased with the overall homespun, countrified look of the tower and it complimented the wedding styling beautifully.

I have so many pictures and ideas for brilliantly decorated cheese towers if any one needs them, but if it all seems to much, message me and if you live in Berkshire, Hampshire or Surrey, I'd be happy to do it for you. Through the fuzz of 1 AM pre-wedding day nerves, it was very rewarding and so much fun.
 P.S. 12-15kg of decorated cheese is very heavy! It took my husband, my brother-in-law and Sophie 'helping' to carry it from the house.


  1. Steve stood near the cheese for a while and I could tell as his shirt smelt of it! In a good way!

    Leftovers being much enjoyed :)

  2. Just some Wensleydale left, at the moment every meal involves cheese. Lush.