A Stilton cheese shot through with gold leaf and gold liqueur and costing £608 a kilo does not impress.
Imagine you’re the first but least favourite wife of an oil-rich Sheikh. You’d like to surprise him with a quaint Christmas present, but what do you get the man who has everything? A solid gold watch? Nope. Wife number two bought that last year. A gold car? Unfortunately, you’ve just seen wife number three in a Dubai showroom sizing one up. I know! How about some gold cheese?
Earlier this month a Leicestershire dairy became the unlikely saviour of bling lovers worldwide. Long Clawson Dairy, founded in 1911, was looking for an innovative way to celebrate its 100th birthday on November (Stuttgart: A0Z24E - news) 6. It had already had a good year, winning several International Cheese awards. In September, the dairy entered the Guinness Book of Records for making the biggest cheese in the world a 150kg blue Stilton, 2ft high x 2ft wide.
But Long Clawson still wanted to do something unusual. So it took some white Stilton, a milder brother of the blue, and shot it through with a combination of gold leaf and gold liqueur. The result is a cheese that costs £608 a kilo.
You might think that such a price tag would put people off. Not so, says Janice Breedon, Long Clawson’s marketing manager, who says they’ve had more than 1,000 inquiries, including a Gulf-based sheikh and “a famous pop star”. “It seems to have captured the world’s imagination,” she says. “It’s like the SuBo effect.”
Sadly, the cheese itself is every bit as overrated as the Scottish singer manufactured by Simon Cowell. When I opened my sample box, the first thing I noticed was an unattractive layer of blue film not a traditional Stilton mould, but residue from the box itself. After scraping it off and losing around £1 worth of golden cheese in the process it looked marginally better. The gold flakes were clearly visible, but the overall effect was still not particularly attractive.
First (OTC BB: FSTC.OB - news) , I convinced my girlfriend to try some. “It tastes like stationery,” she said. “Like permanent marker.” I tried some, too, and agreed. A biscuit made it marginally more edible, although the unappealing aftertaste of the gold Cinnamon Schnapps, with which the gold leaf is mixed, was hard to disguise.
A quick straw poll among friends confirmed our misgivings. Only one took to it, praising its “subtle taste which would go well with a red wine”.
Perhaps some of the 1,000 potential customers will agree with him, though. After all, eating gold is almost as fashionable as investing in it; one hotel kitchen in Abu Dhabi reportedly has a £300,000 edible gold budget every year. While, in London, Fortnum and Mason has a £6.95 jar of Seville orange marmalade sprinkled with gold leaf.
Personally, I’d rather see mould, not gold or even frankincense and myrrh in my Christmas Stilton.