I HAVE thought long and hard about whether to pen this particular column or not, as I’m not sure I want the secret to get out there.

But the problem with secrets is that they just have to be shared!

Well, here it is. My Christmas was absolutely made by Balula’s Delicatessen. High praise indeed, I hear you say. Let me tell you why.

Two days before Christmas I was doing that mad dash around town looking for last-minute Christmas gifts, when I stumbled into the popular cafe-cum-deli on Wood Street. Just as I was leaving, a particular cheese really caught my eye – the Moliterno Black Truffle Pecorino.

I had tried this Italian ewe’s cheese just once before while visiting friends in Yorkshire. As we were driving back from the Wensleydale Creamery (more on that later in the year!) we lost our way, and came across The Courtyard Dairy - an amazing cheese cave jam-packed with a huge variety of cheeses from near and yonder.

A quick taste of the Truffle Pecorino from their friendly team and I was hooked. I gladly parted with the best part of a £10 note for that block of joy. Though sadly I was so enamoured with my unexpected purchase that I didn’t really stop to see what other beauts they have for sale. I will have to go back!

Pecorino is predominantly made on Sardinia under Protected Designation of Origin status, making it really rather special. In recent times it has become incredibly popular in America, and I suspect also in Swindon too after this! As you can imagine, Pecorino with Truffle is a very decadent cheese, and the dark veins of infused truffle make for a very distinct taste, which lingers very pleasantly on the tongue.

At £49.95 per kilo it is a pricey addition to the cheeseboard but a real showstopper. I should point out that it is not for everyone though, as my mother was the only member of my family who enjoyed it as much as I did when I proudly presented it at Christmas.

It has such an evocative flavour, which I was fortunate enough to experience again just a few weeks ago at the charmingly beautiful hotel, gourmet restaurant, and bistro La Clair de la Plume in Grignan, south-west France. Here, chef Julien Allano whipped up the most amazingly creamy cheese risotto, layered delicately around the outside with slices of black truffle. It’s no surprise really that the Michelin Guide awarded the bistro the Bib Gourmand last year.

Truffle was definitely the flavour of the month for us though, as we eagerly made our way through a new-this-year French Brie with Truffle, from none other than Tesco under their Finest range. At a dinky 135g (and an equally pleasing £2.50 too!) it offered a creamier taste for those not entirely comfortable with the firmness of the Pecorino. Sadly just a Christmas visitor, but luckily Balula’s keep the Pecorino well-stocked all-year round. Though maybe give them a call first to check they haven’t sold out!