Commemorative tea towels, Future King cupcake toppers, crocheted baby crowns, Royal Baby Stork Flags, even a Royal Baby Coffee Gift Set, the royal birth has put the souvenir industry into high gear.
Still, I did a double take as I passed the cheddar display in Whole Foods. Looking more closely at the black-waxed wheel of Westminster one-year-old, the tasteful gold label had the names "William" and "Kate" and an image of a crown over the words "Royal Addition Cheddar." I was tickled pink (or, rather, blue) by the idea of a commemorative cheese for the new heir to the throne. As a cheese devotee (who had risen for the 4 a.m. royal nuptials) I loved the idea of now becoming a Royal cheese watcher.
Unlike all the other paraphernalia, a royal cheese need not worry about the colours pink or blue. Elegant in black wax, with a buttery yellow interior, the cheddar is suitably sophisticated and reserved in appearance, while the flavour is robust, balanced and rich. I took a wedge to a family event and the first thing people commented on was how creamy it was. At room temperature it melts in the mouth, leaving a lasting savoury and tangy finish.
The Westminster Royal Addition was created exclusively for Whole Foods in Canada and the U.S. by Somerdale, a dairy exporter based in Somerset, England. Selected specially for its luxurious texture and mature flavour, the pasteurized cheese is hand-made at a family dairy. Alan Jenkins, Somerdale's sales director, emphasizes the quality of the milk, which comes from grass-fed cows (the buttery colour is a sign of high beta carotene, which cows get from the grass).
The Westminster line of cheddars (available at various ages) was developed by Somerdale, which realized many people outside the U.K. had no idea of cheddar's origins. It became the company's mission to try to bring one of the original cheddars from the Somerset countryside (cheddar's birthplace) to the world.
"We wanted to create a product that shouted, 'The Best of British,'" says Jenkins. "Westminster is one of the iconic symbols of Britain, what makes us great, and so I wanted to convey the same passion with one of Britain's true stars, great cheddar." Creating the limited "Royal Addition" was acknowledgment of a resurgence of interest in the younger generation of British monarchy with hopes of drawing a fresh crowd to the cheese case.
Always happy to encourage feasting on cheese, as royal souvenirs go, you had me at cheddar.
The Royal Addition Cheddar is available at Whole Foods across Canada for the month of July, possibly into early August. It is made with vegetarian-friendly rennet.
Sue Riedl blogs about cheese and other edibles at cheeseandtoast.com.