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The pairing of wine and cheese is passé, now it is the pairing of gourmet teas with International and National cheese which has caught the imagination of foodies in Ahmedabad where prohibition is in force and where religious sentiments mean that the majority are teetotalers. But, the much-travelled Gujarati is always game for new food experiences and gourmet teas and international cheese pairing is just the thing to liven up the food scene here.
Keeping the trend towards gourmet teas and special green tea blends and the love for cheese among astute Gujaratis, Food Entrepreneurs of Ahmedabad (FEA), an informal WhatsApp group put together a swanky event to pair exotic teas with international cheeses on Tuesday at the newly opened Soho il Forno in the city.
Wine and cheese have long been popular companions for a long time due to the complexities of flavours. But what is little known is that teas and wine share the same complex flavours. Also, finer teas are becoming available in restaurants, cafes and lounges so a new culinary experience awaits people to savour in Gujarat.
The cheese tasting event paired gourmet teas from 'Karma Kettle Teas' like Smoky Lapsang Souchong Tea with a sharp cheese like buttery and strong Blue Cheese. Cheddar Cheese, both soft and sharp were paired with Oolong Tea with orange peel and spices.
The various teas on offer were Santorini, a blend of 'Rosemary', 'Thyme', 'Oregano', 'Sweet Basil' and 'Peppermint' which paired nicely with salty and flavourful Parmigiano while the fresh cheeses like 'Paneer' and 'Bocconcini' were paired with our very own Masala Tea.
There were gourmet pieces of bread from Healthy Browns available including Sourdough Baguette, Buns, French Pieces Of Bread and Ciabatta to go along with the Cold Meat Cut and cheeses.
High-Tea Cheese parties have become popular in Gujarat and other states too. There is a growing market for alcohol-free dining options due to issues related to getting bar licenses, heavy penalties for drunk driving and religious beliefs.
Also, Oolong And Green Teas appeal to health-conscious diners who want to resist sugary and fizzy drinks. These teas go well with multiple gourmet foods too so FEA, a group of restaurateurs, café and tea lounge owners, hoteliers, caterers, bakers, food bloggers and chocolate makers held this unique event to explore the possibilities of the pairing of cheese with gourmet teas to take the food experience here to the next level.
The event was supported by 'Parag Vyas' of 'Zero One Sales Corporation', 'Rajesh Francis' of 'Magson Fresh and Frozen', 'Saurin Sheth' of 'Manna Agencies' and 'Cheese Solutions' & more and 'Hemant Singh' of 'Sahib Fine Foods'. 'Preeti Singh Rajawat' of '27 Art Street' curated the event.
'Karma Kettle', a Kolkata-based company, sponsored teas in the presence of owner 'Dhiraj Arora' who gave the attendees helpful tips to improve their tasting experience.
“New age consumers are much more aware of cheeses and other food products. In my opinion, the number of consumers who are buying imported or artisan cheeses has grown 35—40% in the last couple of years,” said 'Saurin Sheth'.
Deciphering an understanding of different types of cheeses and how they pair with teas, was fascinating for those who attended. The eclectic mix had a variety of textures, the intensity of flavours ranging from strong, gentle to sharp made of cow milk, buffalo milk, goat milk and vegan methods too.
“It is through such tête-à-tête for the love of food that we understand changing landscapes in the culinary zone better. This is the first of such meetings to focus on knowledge- sharing about food and beverage,” said 'Darshan Rawal' owner of Soho Il Forno.
Around 90 plus FEA group members, and their families attended the event which resulted in many restaurateurs deciding to add the teas and cheeses to their menus.
A published author working on her second book, Sonal worked for many years as a journalist in The Indian Express, The Asian Age and DNA Newspaper where she regularly reviewed restaurants and wrote about food. She worked in Nairobi as a general manager of a group of restaurants in another era. She loves experimenting with food but is also known for her Biryanis and Kababs and even her baking skills. She likes travelling to little known places and if she finds quaint eateries it just makes the trip more fun. Currently based in Ahmedabad, she is happy with the growing awareness of gourmet food in the city.