London, Sept. 14: Coming soon to British supermarkets: tandoori-flavoured cheese, to be followed by fish-and-chip-flavoured Cheddar.
Tesco announced yesterday that a team of eight dedicated scientists and 50 food tasters had spent six months developing what the supermarket chain believes is the first curry-flavoured cheese available in Britain.
Tandoori-flavoured Cheddar will be on the shelves of about 200 supermarkets by the end of next month.
If that cheese sells as well as Tesco is expecting, fish-and-chip-flavoured Cheddar will not be far behind. “We are testing the waters with the tandoori cheese,” said a spokesperson.
“We think we have the perfect flavour. If it goes well, our technicians would probably need six to eight weeks to rustle up something fish-and-chip flavoured for the food panel. If we go along with it, we are likely to be looking at getting it in the shops in March or April.”
“Then we could start looking at other things. You could have tikka or vindaloo flavours, Thai-flavoured cheeses or Chinese, based on the popularity of the British takeaway menu.”
The spokesperson said that Tesco’s tandoori Cheddar was of only mild curry strength and would cost only a few pence more than the ordinary Cheddar.
For Tesco, curry and fish-and-chip-flavoured cheeses are a natural progression in the effort to cater for changing tastes in cheese. Mike Seymour, Tesco’s cheese buyer, said sales of flavours already on the market, such as white Stilton with mango and ginger, had rocketed in the past three years.
“Cheese flavours are changing out of all recognition. The search is on to find the definitive flavoured cheese that will capture the lion’s share of sales. The Holy Grail is undoubtedly fish-and-chip flavour. It would open the flavoured cheese market to the millions of people who regularly buy fish and chips every Friday night.”
Some, however, are in need of more convincing on the virtues of exotically flavoured Cheddar.
Michel Roux, the French chef and restarauteur, was horrified by the concept.
“Who wants to do that'” he spluttered. “They can stuff it. It’s the most atrocious thing to do to any cheese.”
“I love my Cheddar. A good mature Cheddar is one of the nicest things you can have in life. I find it quite stunning, absolutely dreadful, that some people might want to do such a nasty thing to a Cheddar.”
“I hate flavoured cheese. Cheese should have its own flavour: it could be flavoured with spices and fresh herbs, and then we stop there. Keep the taste of the product as it comes from the cow, and Cheddar comes from a lovely cow.”
There was little enthusiasm either from Mark Hix, the chef director of the Ivy and Le Caprice restaurants in London.
He appeared unreceptive to the idea of serving fish and chips to the film stars and pop singers who frequent his tables.
“Certainly not. A cheese like Cheddar should be left alone. A bit of piccalilli or chutney maybe, and that’s as far as it should go.”