[Pigging by Wilfrid: June 4, 2012]
I suppose the two British cheddars most commonly seen in New York are Keen's and Mrs Quicke's. Montgomery's is the third great traditional cheddar, although -- if you can find it -- Isle of Mull can beat any of them.
In one sense, Isle of Mull is not really a cheddar at all, but a cheddar-style cheese. It's made, after all, on an island in the Inner Hebrides, off Scotland. And Cheddar is a village in Somerset. Ah, but...
Cheddar is well worth visiting, actually. It was a short, pleasant drive from the city where I attended university, Bristol, so I got to know it quite well. The Cheddar Gorge, a natural limestone cleft in the Mendip Hills, all caves and stalactites, is a tourist attraction, the road through it lined by shops selling cheddar cheeses and bottles of mead.
But of course, while cheddar cheese originated from those environs, it's made all over the world now, and there's no control on usage of the term. The EU does, however, protect the term "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar," which must use milk, not from Cheddar village, but from Somerset (or Dorset, Devon or Cornwall). Montgomery's and Keen's boast this designation.
Mrs Quicke's, for some reason, does not, although it hails from that general part of the country. It's very good though - not too sharp, and with a crystalline, crumbly texture. You can kind of tell this sample came from Murray's, where they cave age it - not, thank goodness, to the point where blue veins appear. Cheddar is not a veiny cheese, no matter how many past-it samples you see on New York's cheese counters.