There’s nothing better than spending a chilled winter evening in a warm world of cheese, enjoying the numerous flavors and getting to know the intricacies involved behind creating these sinfully delicious treats. And unlike Willy Wonka, I didn’t have to buy packs of cheese to get the golden ticket to this yummalicious affair. Instead, my golden ticket wirelessly traveled and finally stationed itself in my mail account.
Cheese and me are just made for each other, so the decision to attend it was a no brainer. The Cheese dripping event was of the Italian farmers’ cooperative, Agriform, who called it as PDO Cheese Appreciation. If you don’t already know, PDO means Protected Designation of Origin; it is one of the three European Union schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialities that promote and protect names of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs. Thus, as you may have already guessed, the purpose of this small but sparkling gathering was to give the handful of us a glimpse into the traditional PDO gourmet cheeses from Italy. The cheeses represent centuries of human endeavour and a host of positive environmental factors. Among the few of us, were the representative from the agricultural products marketing agency Sopexa, and Balbir Chhatwal and Andreas De Rosi from Eurobrands Consulting Asia, who were the guests of the evening.
Thus, it was all the more worthy of getting to know the beauty behind the scenes. The chilled weather was contrasted by the warm smile with which I was welcomed by Ujjala B Gupta, the very lady, who invited me to this vibrant yet cosy setting at the Diva Café in the Italian Cultural Centre in Embassy of Italy. The chefs led by celebrity TV show host, writer and restaurateur, Ritu Dalmia, served a selection of four Italian classic cheeses: Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, Asiago and Piave. I also came across Montasio PDO and Pecorino Toscano PDO. And a glass of wine with these cheese delights became the ultimate deal breaker. Mind you, it was nothing less than the Indo-Italian wines, Fratelli.
I got an opportunity to interact with Chiara Giussani,Export Manager, AGRIFORM S.c.a. Chiara spoke of the need to spread awareness among the Indian masses of the real Italian treat -the cheese. “The purpose of this event is to shed some light on the various taste of cheese. The texture, the make, the uniqueness of each that best complement certain dishes. It is to give a complete picture of our culture.” From the chat I could garner that currently the target market is the food service industry, especially the retail stores that offer cheese from various parts of the world, and, of course, the restaurants especially the ones that take pride in authentic Italian cuisines.
Commenting on the cheeses, event presenter and food blogger Sourish Bhattacharyya said, “One can savour the rich and distinctive flavours of PDO cheese as antipasti, in salads, pasta and flans. These cheeses are produced in conformity with precise EU regulations safeguarding their quality for the benefit of consumers.
Those were the words that I took into consideration as I began to prod the feel of this Italian cheese in my mouth. Well, everything was lost after that and all that remained were me and those delectable pasta and that melt-in-the-mouth pizzas loaded with the showcased cheese. Well Mr. Bhattacharya, after that delicious taste, your observations were right to the “T”. I definitely enjoyed this little piece of Italy in India.
While I enjoyed my evening with these delectable cheeses, I understood that it’s very important to know the traits of these cheese. As Vaibhav Bhargava, the Executive Sous Chef of Pan Asian, a fine-dining restaurant at Delhi’s ITC Sheraton, said, “These cheese are great and to get the best out of them, we need to pair them with the right condiments. Also, wine and cheese are great for any gathering.”
So, it’s an evening well spent, and I can only hope that we get to see some of them in the market soon. Hopefully the government of India will bring in more avenues for these foreign brands to sustain.
– EB / Anjali Sethi Joshi