Move your cheese
Why settle for store-bought maal when the goodness of India-made, homegrown cheese is available on your plate?
The status of cheese has quickly climbed the health ladder thanks to the popularity of the ketogenic diet that recommends one eats ample amount of good fats and protein. However, store-bought processed cheese is usually high in saturated fats and sodium, making it a poor health choice. Traditionally, cheese was known to be sourced from European countries, but the trend is now shifting and homegrown artisans are trying their hands at creating fresh ricotta, goat cheese, mozzarella, camembert and more, using local produce. Considering they are made using fresh ingredients, their flavour profiles are delicate. With the increased demand for these artisanal cheese, the products are becoming easily accessible and an obvious choice for restaurants in the city. Here's a where-you-should-head-for-what guide."
Mature Cheddar from Himalayan Cheese, Kashmir at Boston Butt
Cheddar is known to be relatively hard, off white and sometimes has a sharp taste. But what makes this simple cheese interesting is that is tastes different as it matures. A young cheddar is aged for 3-8 weeks and the taste is sour whereas a mild cheddar, aged for 3-4 months, has a subtle, buttery flavour. The medium cheddar is aged 5-6 months and is creamy and mellow and slightly savoury. But it is only with the mature cheddar (aged for 7-9 months) that the sharpness starts to come in.
Bandra's The Boston Butt sources its mature cheddar from Kashmir from Himalayan Cheese. Siddharth Kashyap, head chef and co-owner, elaborates, "Matured Himalayan cheddar is a handmade, naturally ripened fully aged cheese made using full-fat milk from free grazing cows in Pahalgam. It is creamy, mellow, yet noticeable funk from ageing and sharp savoury flavour. It is firm, mildly crumbly yet smooth and silky in texture." He shares that the cheese-makers source fresh Himalayan milk from the pastoral nomadic communities of Gujjars and Bakarwals keeping in mind Dutch and local traditions and fair trade values to promote social and economic development.
"The flavour is dependent on what the cows eat and the seasons of the year. After making the cheese, they let it ripe naturally to the desired age in their cheese room."
The mature cheddar can be used in recipes as a substitute to a semi ripened Parmesan. "There are few things in life that look quite as satisfying as molten cheese. Which is when I decided to create the 'Bloom Bread'—a warm pull-apart bread oozing with melted mixed cheddars, finished with sprinkles of freshly chopped chives and a drizzle of confit garlic oil."
Price: Rs 395+ for 200gm @ Foodhall
Gorgonzola by La Ferme at The Pantry
A strong full-flavoured white and blue-veined creamy cheese is how one could describe a perfect gorgonzola. The one that The Pantry uses is sourced from the Auroville Pondicherry's La Ferme Cheese. Vijay Mohit, restaurant manager, explains, "This is a handmade, small-batch cheese made with no preservatives and emulsifiers."
The products at La Ferme Cheese are made by citizens of Auroville. The milk is used from their dairy. Since it has no preservatives, artificial flavours or colours and emulsifiers—used in industrially produced cheese to retain moisture and fat—this cheese comes with an authentic texture and taste of traditional farm cheese and guarantees the balance of vitamins, proteins and fat which gives it its unique characteristics."
Mohit suggests you pair the gorgonzola with breakfast items and serve it with salads and eggs. He says, "One of our consultant chefs, Marguerite, wanted to include an arugula salad with a strong punch and creamy texture from the cheese. The gorgonzola fit the profile and became part of the menu.
The salad Marguerite's Mix is dedicated to her and has been part of our menu since."
Price: Rs 555 for 250gm @ To buy: https://www.auroville.org/contents/112
Tomme De Bombai by Spotted Cow Fromagerie at Woodside Inn
When we speak about homegrown cheesemakers, Mumbai's Spotted Cow Fromagerie needs a mention as it was one to start the craft cheese revolution back in 2014. Their newest addition to the selection is the Tomme De Bombai which is the classic Tomme De Savoie —a French style of cheese. This artisanal small-batch cheese is made, not manufactured, fresh and without any preservatives, unlike the ones available in the market. Hence, its shelf life is no more than 60 days.
Woodside Inn is coming up with a special menu called the Cultured Cousins menu, which will be their take on classic and comfort with chees-ey items, made from produce sourced from five of the finest local artisanal cheesemakers from all over the country paired with Mead. Dolphy Sequiera, Area GM, Woodside Inn, says, "Tomme De Bombai plays a prominent part in our Cultured Cousins — Cheese and Mead menu. Similar to mozzarella, this cheese has a creamy and airy texture, aromas of ripe pear and mango and an unmistakable scent of apricot. It works beautifully as a table cheese or can be melted on the pizza or sandwich. With its almost racletteish melt, this one adds a great texture to any dish."
One can use it in ham and cheese sandwiches or a five-cheese pizza. It can also be used as a layer on top of the Chicken Mousse Meatball Soup. The stretch, says Sequeira, adds a beautiful texture to these dishes along with bringing in a smooth creamy texture. "We've created multiple dishes with the Tomme De Bombai as part of our Cultured Cousins menu. There was a lot of experimentation in finding the right cheese and bread for this one. While we have created a take on the classic Ham and Cheese, the idea behind the menu was to have local cheese shine. That's when we came across Tomme De Bombai. The sour texture of the Sourdough bread with the smokiness of ham complements the creamy texture and fruity notes of the Tomme cheese."
Price: Rs 360 per 150gm @www.instamojo.com/spottedcowfromagerie
Brie by Begum Victoria at Toast And Tonic
Bengaluru-based fromagers Shruti Golchha and Pooja Reddy and Chef Manu Chandra started Begum Victoria this year. One of the fromagers Manu Chandra is also the man behind the fanciest gin bars in the city, Toast And Tonic. So, it was obvious that he would introduce his fine products at his uber-chic restaurant, making it the first restaurant brand in the country to serve a truly exclusive, hand-made artisanal cheese offering.
Pooja Reddy, Fromager, Begum Victoria says, "Begum Victoria's artisanal double cream brie is very different from the mass-produced imported bries we get in the market, which lack the freshness and bespoke quality that our brie's imbibe. Our bries are aged in a temperature-controlled cave and are painstakingly and meticulously maintained for 3-4 weeks before they are ready for consumption. The local and indigenous flavours of the milk come through the terroir of the land the cows graze on, and this adds to the uniqueness and distinct flavour profile of the Begum Victoria Brie. We also make a decadent version of our Brie infused with fresh truffles and this is hugely popular with our clients."
Begum Victoria Brie has a soft, creamy, runny texture with a slight mushroom flavour. The flavour of brie is fruity, mild and nutty, while the aroma is fairly pronounced and strong. It is best eaten by itself or with a drizzle of honey, or fruits such as oranges, prunes and even beetroot. A great accompaniment to cured meats and charcuterie as well as one of the excellent dessert cheese, brie must be served at room temperature. The quickest and the most delicious way of getting all the goodness of the brie is by baking it in an oven for approximately 15-20 mins and topping it with maple/honey syrup and pecans with a dash of cinnamon, and serving it with an assortment of crackers.
At Toast And Tonic, you can try it with mushroom on sourdough toast or have it the good ol' fashion way on a cheese platter.
Price: Begum Victoria Cheese Platter is priced at Rs 750 + taxes and includes portions of Brie, Havarti, Bel-Paese, Brie and Gruyere paired accompaniments
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