This week’s cheeses (yes, it’s a rare double-bill this week!) have had me thinking about what sort of cheese I’d like to be immortalised as. It’s a tricky one. Much as I adore blue cheese, its main characteristics are mould and stinkiness, which I’m not sure I’d like to be summed up by. Ditto smear-ripened cheese which is a bit of a smelly joke. Perhaps a farmhouse cheddar? But then that just brings up words like ‘earthy’ and ‘robust’ which would make me sound like a used tractor. Hmmmm… Anyway, republicans look away as this week I bring you The Duke and Duchess:
The Duke and Duchess were created by Cheese+ (also known as The Cambridge Food Company) and inspired by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The Duke is a blue, unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese and his regal partner The Duchess is an unpasteurised, rind-washed Alpine-style cheese. Both cheeses are handmade using the morning milk of a mixed herd of Holstein, Friesian and Red Poll cows, which graze on summer pastures rich with clover and in the winter feast on red clover haylage (haylage, forage fact-fans, is basically drier than silage but damper than hay). The Duke is made with the addition of Penicillium Roqueforti and is aged for up to 12 weeks. The Duchess is slightly more racy; starting life as a firm, Alpine-style cheese, she is then washed in local Cambridge tipple Chilford Hundred Sparkling Rosé.
I have to admit when I first heard about the Duke and Duchess cheeses on Twitter, I thought it could be a bit, well, cheesy. I have recollections of seeing another royally-inspired cheese made to look like a teddy bear Beefeater, which still gives me The Fear. But when I headed to Cambridgeshire on a family visit last weekend I decided to track the couple down in a local delicatessen and was relieved to find them looking like perfectly respectable artisan cheeses. If I was the Duke, I’d be pretty pleased, I think, to be a blue cheese – all very English and noble. And sure enough, it’s a lovely blue cheese, creamy and mellow with veins of salty but not too spicy blue.
On the other hand, a rind-washed cheese to represent a fragrant queen-in-waiting could be a tricky choice: ‘So, what characteristics does the Duchess have?’ ‘Well, she makes your car smell like filled nappies and it takes three washes to get the stench of her off your hands.’ A few generations back, Cheese+ could have been heading for The Tower on a one-way boat trip with that sort of comparison. Fortunately, The Duchess (the cheese, that is) appears to adhere to my lecture last week about alpine cheeses that are washed developing a hard rind and is not at all of the orange, sticky variety. With a supple paste, pocked with the occasional hole, the cheese has quite a pronounced floral taste, which reminded me somewhat of Burwash Rose, one of my favourite washed rinds.
Intriguingly, in one of their Facebook posts Cheese+ urges us to ‘Look out for the Babyking’ so perhaps there’s another royally-inspired cheese in the offing. At least this one shouldn’t be tricky in terms of inspiration, given that baby sick is effectively curds and whey as it’s the enzyme chymosin in rennet which stops milk moving through baby mammals’ stomachs too fast by coagulating it. But you didn’t really want to know that, did you?