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Exclusive Expert Opinions on Acing the Art of Cheese Tasting

Favoured by almost everyone that exists, cheese is delicious, and one enjoys it in several ways. One can have it as a fondue or grated over their food, always taking the meal to another level. With a wide range of cheese available from gouda, brie, cheddar, parmesan, and more, each style may have a way of eating it to enjoy the flavours the most. Cheese platters have also become a famous food option for many, best paired with wine to enjoy as an evening or picnic snack. On National Cheese Day, why not get into how you can thoroughly enjoy cheese the right way.

We asked a few expert chefs to give their take on tips to 'Ace the Art of Cheese Tasting', and this is what they had to say:

Tips by Chef Sahil Arora

Designation: Executive Chef at Hyatt Regency Dehradun

Chef Sahil Arora has experience working across brands like Marriot, Hyatt and Shangri-La hotels in India, starting his career as a chef in 1999. As a master chef, he has a talent for cooking and curating the perfect dining experience, ensuring smooth and safe kitchen operations. Cheese has always fascinated Chef Sahil Arora, even more after watching Ratatouille, where Remy, his favourite character, pairs hard cheese with citrus strawberry, a perfect example of sweet, mellow yet hard cheese paired with juicy citrus and fruity strawberry. He says:

"The best-case scenario for cheese pairing is when you pair it with another ingredient and the flavour combination exceeds the individual taste of cheese".

Tips on Acing the Art of Cheese Pairing
  • Cheddar with apple chutney or caramelised pears

  • Mouldy cheeses have very sharp notes and are salty and should be paired with wildflower honey to mellow down the saltiness while imparting the flowery notes, or else pair it with a fudgy chocolate brownie.

  • Brie with grilled vegetables as it has a buttery and creamy texture

  • Mozzarella goes well with crusty bread- pulled apart ciabatta with gooey mozzarella.

  • Parmesan marries well with Parma ham.

  • Creamy Mascarpone with citrus blueberry or on a wackier side sandwiched between dark chocolate chip cookies.

  • Feta cheese, which is salty and crumbly in nature, goes well with Kalamata or watermelon, drizzled with aged balsamic.

  • Camembert with figs cooked in red wine

Tips by Namita Sawhney Nagrath

Designation: Co-Founder of Amazin Graze

Namita Sawhney has been flying with international airlines for the past 15 years, travelling the world and experiencing exotic cuisines with her husband, a hotelier. They soon ventured into starting Amazin Graze more than two years ago, with the motive to bring a bespoke and highly customisable experience to customers, offering the best cheeses and charcuterie for a grazing experience.

Tips on Acing the Art of Cheese Pairing
  • A tasting is most fun with company, so you can see their reactions and discuss your experiences with the tasting. With taste being personal, everyone experiences the flavours differently, making sharing the journey more fun.

  • Start with a mild cheese and then move forward to the stronger ones, taking short breaks between every cheese you try. Use water as a palate cleanser.

  • Allow yourself to transcend into experiencing the taste, describing it based on the five universally accepted basic tastes: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter and Umami (Meaty/Savoury)

  • Smell each cheese before you taste it, allowing you to closely comprehend it before you taste it, as smelling and tasting are two different senses.

  • Make sure to lay out a selection of cheese with some nuts, olives, crackers, chocolates, and fruits so you can enjoy varied flavours.

  • Keep some wine handy to sip along with the cheese bites, where lighter cheese pairs best with a bubbly or chilled Sauvignon Blanc, and the heavier cheese pairs best with a Cabernet.

Tips by Chef Vivek Tamhane

Designation: Senior Executive Chef at BLVD Club, Bangalore

With over 30+ years of culinary experience setting up restaurants in Europe and pre-opening hotels and restaurants in India, alongside bakery and pastry shop operations, Chef Vivek Tamhane has authored two books. Along with writing two books, he has been on cookery shows on ZEE TV, Saam Marathi, and NDTV Good Times with Pralhad Kakkar. He has received praise and recognition with prestigious awards.

Tips on Acing the Art of Cheese Pairing
  • It is crucial to choose the right beverage with your cheeseboard. Pair your cheese with lighter drinks like lemonade, tea, or plain coffee (not like a cappuccino), and avoid thick ones like chocolate and fruit milkshakes. Beer is also an option to pair with cheese. The beverages must not include too much sugar.

  • A traditional red wine accompanies the cheese board best, following a French tradition of indulging in wine with cheese post-dinner.

  • The ideal platter will have a variety of mild and cream cheese, firm and aged cheeses like gouda, blue cheese, goat cheese, and salted cheese like halloumi. A few kinds of cheese like Bocconcini, Burrata, and Feta are best to avoid as they are great in salads.

  • Always cleanse your palate between different types of cheese to enjoy the taste of each kind. Palate cleansers you should have apart from crackers are cucumber sticks, olives, black grapes, raw carrot, raw celery sticks, sundried tomato, and pickled onion.

  • Eating more protein along with cheese is advisable, making non-vegetarian options like grilled chicken and fish or smoked salmon great palate cleansers.

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