Delicatessens are awaiting a stampede for Britain's first buffalo cheese about to be launched by a farmhouse cheesemaker whose customers include the Prince of Wales.
Nick Hodgetts intends to make the cheese by buying in milk supplied by a herd of 100 water buffalo, based on a farm at Idlicote, near Stratford- upon-Avon. They provide 1,000 litres of milk a week, enough for Mr Hodgetts to make 72 cheeses, which then spend four months in a maturing room.
"It is pretty wacky and I admit my staff cracked up when the herd's owner, Bob Palmer, arrived in our yard with the first load of buffalo milk," Mr Hodgetts, 35, said. "Everyone thought I was winding them up until they saw the horns on the side of his truck.
"Buffalo cheese is almost white in colour and has a slightly sweet, mellow flavour - it's totally different to cow's-milk cheese but very tasty with salad and pickle.
"I'm sure buffalo cheese will face the same barriers cheese made from sheep and goat's milk had to overcome, but we have tried it on friends at parties and the reaction has been very positive.
"You get twice as much cheese from buffalo milk as cow's milk because it's so high in protein and fat. There is no cream in buffalo milk either."
Although some types of the Italian soft cheese mozzarella are made from buffalo milk, Mr Hodgetts was unable to find a recipe for the hard cheese he wanted to produce. Instead, he adapted his own sheep's milk recipe for The Original Buffalo Cheese, which is expected to sell for pounds 1.40 a quarter-pound.
Customers of Malvern Cheesewrights, at Pond Farm, in Whittington, Hereford and Worcester, include Harrods. The company also supplies Duchy Originals with two organic cow's-milk herb cheeses, one with garlic that appeals to Prince Charles.
"We supply those two cheeses to Highgrove on a regular basis and Prince Charles takes them with him on ski-ing holidays as well," said Mr Hodgetts.
"I might send him a small wedge of buffalo cheese with the next consignment."Reuse content