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The crazy cheese lady is I : Part 1

One of the first memories I ever have of cooking is grilling cheese on a flat pan, letting it melt and scooping it off with my fingers and putting it in my mouth. I must have burnt my finger and my tongue a million times, but I don’t think that ever deterred me. Instead I would make it as a post lunch snack for me and my three-year-younger sister, giving her the burnt-roof-of-the-mouth experience.

Hey, come on, I was only 10 then. Twenty-odd years on, I hope all is forgiven.

But I have to credit my aunt VB for my first ‘real’ cheese experience was in my late teens. She’d just been back from Holland and handed me a piece of Dutch Gouda, I spat it out. It was like nothing I’d tasted before. And by before, I mean the processed taste of Amul and if I was lucky, Kraft. VB wasn’t particularly pleased.

Nonetheless, I didn’t give up. And when I grilled it on a piece of toast, it melted and the flavours changed completely. And I was a convert. At least, I was willing to try the stronger cheeses that VB would bring back. Then she’d sneak me a bit of wine, making me more ‘worldly-wise.’

But I think I’ve grown up a bit since then, perhaps even gone a bit beyond the melty cheese experience. Don’t get me wrong I do love my fondues and soufflés, but more about that later. I’ve started appreciating the real flavours of cheese. And now am ashamed to say it, but I am a borderline cheese snob. (Except for chilli cheese toast. Nobody, but nobody can take that away from me.)

Cheese is my go-to food. Cheese is my breakfast. Cheese is my lonely-night companion. Cheese is my friendly-face in a big crowd. Cheese is my party food. And I really believe that a party is incomplete without a good cheese platter.

Sometimes I put out so many cheeses, that I fill my mini-centre table with just them. Other times, I pretend they are carelessly chosen and strewn, whereas I’d have saved them up for months just to put them out for special guests. The picture above is from Xmas party last year. I think there were a lot more cheeses, but for some reason my friend Agent Provocateur only took these.

Getting back to the point, here’s my list of a good cheese platter. Ideally it should have at least five cheeses
One blue - Gorgonzola, Danish Blue, Stilton, Roquefort
One hard (and mild) - Gouda, Edam, Emmental, Parmesan, Pecorino (The Schnittkase in the pictures, I think means hard cheese in German, so am not too sure what cheese that is)
One soft - Brie, Camembert, Boursin
One smoked - A processed smoked it good too, otherwise a mean smoked Gouda works very well
One sweet / dessert -Cinnamon cheese, Stilton with Mango and Ginger, Cranberry cheese

But for some added drama, I like to throw in fresh goat’s cheese or a chévre which I normally roll in some herb or paprika, a sharp cheese like an extra mature cheddar and maybe an artisan cheese which I have stumbled in the market.

Oh and don't forget the accompaniments - Crackers, baguette, walnuts, grapes olive and some jam or chutney. My favourite is my home-made caramelised onion jam. 

Nine times out of ten, the smoked, soft and the sweet are the first ones to go. And I'm always left with the blue and hard cheese. And honestly those two are the easiest to use up in food.

A fondue if you please. A souffle. Blue cheese pasta. A tart. Or just plain old toast.

There’s so much I want to write about cheese, I know one blog post isn’t enough. One of these days, I’ll write it an ode. All that for later. Right now, all I want to do is pour myself a glass of wine and nibble on my old friend. Nom.

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  1. you are wrong.. u were 7 yrs old not 10.. amazing amazing blog! so so proud of you

  2. Absolutely LOVE this post! Invite me home for cheese please!

    1. @Pama Oh ho! Fine I'll edit the post and put it in.

      @Sanjeev Thanks ya. Come to Delhi, I'll feed you a whole platter :)

  3. Nice Blog-and brilliant writing! Just found it!Look forward to more!