Rich, buttery, piquant and oh so satisfyingly savoury, cheese is a well-loved food that people from every culture have enjoyed and experimented with since ancient times. You could be a cheese snob turning up your nose at mass-produced blocks of processed cheese heaped in supermarket coolers, a paneer addict whose day isn’t complete without a helping of squishy cubes dunked in spicy masala or a cheese aficionado who finds something to love in every bite of cheese that makes its way into your mouth. Whatever tastes and textures your taste-buds gravitate towards, there is a cheese somewhere that you’ll surely fancy.
If you were to peep into the Tadka fridges you’re likely to find us well-stocked with a fair number of cheese varieties for snacking and cooking with. Lately we’ve been trying out many Indian brands of cheese, which we find are really coming into their own. We’ve found that brands like Go Cheese have an extensive and inexpensive range of good quality firm cheeses, spreads, slices and shreds with some interesting flavours. What we also like is the fact that they are produced locally. Instead of spending a bundle on that block of imported Emmental that may or may not have been handled and stored properly, we’d much rather support our local cheese industry.
An invitation to a cheese appreciation session that promised wine-pairing and a tasting menu curated by Chef Ranveer Brar found its way into our inbox, and it sounded promising enough for us to head to The Biere Club on a Monday evening. The event was organised by Go Cheese and Femina, and started off with a hilarious standup comedy act by Sahil Shah. This was followed by an informative session with the marketing head of Go Cheese who talked about their products including the Gowardhan brand that includes milk, butter, ghee and dahi.
Chef Ranveer Brar then shared with us some facts about cheese in general, and some of his ideas on cheese pairings. We enjoyed the cheese platters featuring Gouda, mild Cheddar and Colby from the Go Cheese range. These were served with complementing foods like grapes, crackers, fresh figs and dried apricots. The cheeses were mild with a subtle creamy sweetness and paired well with the other foods on the platter.
The five appetizers that were served were the highlight of the evening. These included a lovely Beetroot carpaccio with herb Almette and mini greens (centre above). This was surely the dish of the day and the rich, creamy herbed cheese tasted heavenly with the wafer thin blanched beet slices. The mini calzone (top) was adequately flaky and gooey, and the crumb-fried nugget (right) had the chilly grape chutney to offset the heaviness of deep-fried cheese. The Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese flour nacho with avocado salsa (bottom) had our favourite fresh Mexican flavours and the bruschetta (left) with the sliced cheese on top was lifted with the addition of olives and mustard.
Chef Ranveer Brar also shared some tips on pairing cheese with wine and delighted the audience with the interesting flavour combinations that he shared of cheese with typical Indian ingredients like green tomato chunda, starfruit, khakhras, panch phoran etc.
For those with an insatiable sweet tooth there is now a range of desserts that make good use of the tang and creamy lusciousness of cheeses like ricotta, mascarpone and cream cheese. We were served a Saffron cream syllabub with fresh fruits and biscotti crumbles and a slice of Hummingbird cake frosted with Amlette cheese.
Thanks Go Cheese and Femina for inviting us and for the hamper with delicious samples. We’re definitely looking forward to trying the Almette cheese in all kinds of applications, and the Monday-Friday cheese slices in flavours like Green Chutney, Achari and Kacha Aam are sure to pep up our lunchbox sandwiches.