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    From farmstead Ricotta and Labneh to a young Cheddar and Halloumi, artisanal cheese is the new trending culture.

    Whether you are entertaining your guests with a cheese platter along with wine, looking to entice your sandwich snack or simply feeling peckish, fermented curd is all set to hold its own in our thriving food culture. Prominent cheesemaker and consultant Aditya Raghavan credits Pondicherry and Auroville for Chennaiites’ long-term love affair with cheese. “What has perhaps changed amongst the foodies in the city is the trend in shopping for more locally made products and hence the pop up of small units producing better quality and variety.” Raghavan adds that while the growth of the artisanal cheese industry will double in the next five years, breaking stereotypes in usage and care in storage, it will enhance cheese appreciation and experience. Sample your way into the world of cheese with our top picks for handcrafted cheese, the artisanal way.

    Bouchons @ Mango Hill
    One of the pioneers in artisan cheese production in the state, Mango Hill has consistently delighted their clientele with new and exciting varieties being added to their repertoire of international cheese that have a local twist. Handmade only since a couple of months is their Olive & Thyme Provence, a hard cheese aged delicately for 3-5 months. Another top hard table cheese is their Curry Leaf Le Pondicheri that has been aged only for ten days, yet is dry, buttery and best paired with crackers. On the cards for the upcoming festive season are Bouchons, a finger cheese in appetising small portions that have a warm addition of paprika and cumin. Yet another feature to look forward to is there farmstead production with their impending move to a farm. Priced@Rs 1600/kg onwards. Details: 0413-2655491

    the-farm1Mozzarella di Bufala @ The Farm
    A dairy farm since 1974, this trendsetting outfit at Semmencherry has been doling out high-quality farmstead cheese for the past three years now. Milk from their own herd of cattle is used to make chemical-free handmade cheese that is intensely fresh. Their signature Tomme de Semmencherry variety is a flavourful natural yogurt culture cheese. Our vote also goes for the fresh Middle Eastern Labneh speckled with herbs and dunked in sunflower oil, ideal on toast. Do try their low fat and high-protein ricotta cheese produced from the whey of mozzarella, made fresh every week. Connoisseurs will also appreciate their manchego cheese from thick buffalo milk and aged for two months. Rs 168 onwards. Details: 9176050562

    Halloumi @ Käse
    Barely four months old, this local enterprise that employs people with disabilities is already making its mark by hand-making around ten varieties of cheese–all of which only need sea salt as a preservative. Made in batches fresh every week, Käse procures farm fresh milk from Kancheepuram every day. Their cottage, cream, mozzarella and feta cheese are rich and fine for tasting. Speciality cheeses are equally exciting with their range of halloumi dotted with mint, Labneh and a German yoghurt cheese, quark, which can double up as a star ingredient in indulgent desserts. If you are looking for healthy options, try their pickled feta or cottage cheese stacks flavoured with chimichurri that can be instantly grilled alongside some garden vegetables for a no-fuss weeknight dinner. Rs 325 onwards. Details: 9176221898

    cinnabar-kodai1Blue Cheese @ Cinnabar Kodai
    This popular farm-stay facility has not only been making farmstead artisanal cheese since 2003, but also offers courses on cheesemaking. Perfecting the art of cheesemaking, the B&B outfit located in the Kodaikanal hills is known for high-quality cheese ranging from soft to hard and includes cream cheese, aged cheddar and blue cheese, apart from their signature Cinnamano—a beautiful hard Italian table cheese aged for 60 days. Rs 1,000 per kilo onwards. Details: 9842145220

    acres-wildHavarti @Coonoor’s Acres Wild
    This Danish gourmet hard cheese is creamy and moist and tastes wonderful as a simple table cheese. The home enterprise cum farmstay boasts of handmaking all their cheese using milk from their own grass-fed cows while following organic principles leading to an unparalleled taste of cheese. Also new is a curry leaf gouda and a cocoa, honey flavoured hard cheese that is similar to the flavour of a cheddar—the Acres Cocoa. Rs 950 per kilo onwards. Details: 9443232621

    Feta @ Kodai Cheesekodaidairy
    The latest offering from this 46-year-old, third generation enterprise is their feta cheese made from cow milk while using a commercial system that yields a soft, white and a crumbly textured feta that is also high in nutritive value. Using milk of their farm-bred cows, their French-style cambrie is exceptional. Drawing characteristics from a traditional camembert and brie, the cambrie has carved its own unique identity and taste. Rs 150 per 200 grams onwards. Details: 04542 240293

    Cottage Cheese @ Trader Koshy
    Making farmstead artisanal cheeses since 2013, what separates Trader Koshy’s cottage cheese from the rest of the pack is the practice of employing traditional methods of farming and processing. Hand-held granite press, that dates back over 20 years, is used to drain the cheese off whey water. Made from wholesome cow milk reared in their farm in Kelambakkam, the cheese has a natural flavour with a smoky yet sweet taste reminiscent of the wood-fire method of boiling milk. Rs 100 onwards. Details: 9789050551

    la-ferme1Gorgonzola @Le Ferme
    This artisanal social enterprise within the Auroville community has been producing about 100kgs of handmade cheeses in over ten varieties since 1988. Consistently adding to their repertoire of products, the newest addition to La Ferme’s cheese family is their Gorgonzola—a young cheese that is mildly creamy with its characteristic blue veined taste. Also new is their Gruyère and Parmesan both aged and matured as per the highest technical standards, natural tasting and possessing great character for their use of whole rich milk. While there, try their Cream Cheese spiked with curry leaves and pepper or even their French-Mediterranean Goat Cheese that is available fresh, dry or medium dry. Rs 850 per kilo onwards. Details: 0413 2622212

    Text:  Preeti GT

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