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Which cheeses to melt this autumn

Seasonal change always causes a noticeable shift in consumer habits and with the brisk weather of autumn comes an appetite for rich, comforting meals. Cheese gets a lot of action in these pre-Christmas months and thanks to the thriving street food culture now afoot, you have a wide range of directions to go in to make it work for you.

The obvious classics are a great place to begin. Lasagna, be it vegetarian or traditional, can deliver great GP in the kitchen and a meal that diners know will hit the spot. Loading that béchamel with cheese like Parmesan, pecorino or cheddar are unquestionably the secret to the dish’s success, and a transferable base sauce for macaroni cheese. Served as either a main or side dish, mac’n’cheese is a perennial favourite that compliments ribs and smoked meats, but often needs a kick of something like mustard powder, or a touch of smoked paprika. For added gooeyness, use cheeses with a low melting point. Lacing mozzarella through your macaroni is a champion choice, as is Red Leicester, which also brings colour and sweetness.

The humble cottage pie usually comes back into play around this time of year and the golden crust from grated cheddar layered over the potato ensures a great contrast in textures. Modern British is doing incredibly well at the minute with plenty of strong restaurants celebrating British classics like cottage and shepherds pie. Another iconoclastic dish that does well, particularly on bar menus, is rarebit. Invigorated by stout, Guinness or porter, the cheese mix can be pepped up no end and taken in a number of different signature ways. Part of the new success of rarebit could be attributed to the insatiable popularity of avocado toast. Is rarebit the toast alternative for bleaker months? Many signs suggest so.

Out on the street food and events stalls, Mexican food continues to shine. The quesadilla offers a lot of potential as a vehicle for black beans, pickled pink onions and even some hardy greens. This take on a cheese toasty usually calls for queso fresco, but a multitude of cheeses can be substituted and you should be guided by the other ingredients in the filling. It also happens to be a popular option on children’s menus.

Be careful not to overlook washed rind cheeses when melting this autumn. Raclette stalls are rife in Christmas markets and the added depth and mild funky notes of this cheese help provide a truly satisfying dish when melted over potatoes. However, there are plenty of other washed cheeses to experiment with including epoisses and stinking bishop.

The season for vacherin is upon us and this famous mountain cheese enjoys something of a cult following by those in the know. While not a cheap cheese, Vacherin Mont d’Or is ideal as a sharing cheese and a more prestigious affair than your average baked Camembert, which often needs a drop of wine and some herbs to add complexity.

Fresh Direct is your connection to high quality favourites like Gruyere, westcountry cheddars and mozzarella, but also seasonal cheeses in the best possible condition. So as you tinker with autumn menus, specials and catering events, be sure to explore your cheese options when melting, the rewards can be significant.