Whether you’re partial to Parmesan, crazy for Camembert or passionate about paneer, there’s a lot of cheese associated with Christmas. And not just when it comes to Mariah Carey’s red snowsuit or Wham! giving away their collective heart. Chef Domini Kemp and Irish Times food writer Catherine Cleary joined Sean O’Rourke to talk all things cheese at Christmas.

Catherine explained that cheese traditionally becomes more popular at this time of year because at least in the years before we could get whatever we want whenever we wanted it, seasonal fluctuations meant that cheese filled a gap where other foods would have been.

"Cheese was a way of getting us through the ‘hungry gap’, as it’s called."

But how far would you go to protect your Provolone? Catherine tells the story of Samuel Pepys, a diarist from the 1600s, who wrote that he buried his wheels of cheese during the Great Fire of London in an attempt to save them from the flames.

Thankfully, the biggest risk to cheese in Irish homes would appear to be other dinner guests. So, what’s on the menu? Domini says that while the European classics should still have a place on your plate, Irish cheese is worth your consideration as well.

"We have some incredible Irish cheeses, like Coolea and so on. A kind of Dutch-style Gouda cheese that’s lovely and sweet. Crozier Blue, a really wonderful blue cheese and 15 Fields, a cheddar that would literally put hairs on your chest. They can stand up to any competition."

Listen back to the segment on Today with Sean O’Rourke above.