Archive for the ‘Newspapers Articles’ Category

7
Jan

Indian Express Article on Acres Wild

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On a cheese trip

by Nikitha Bastain

New Indian Express

coonoor-train-station

SO YOU are heading to the Nilgiris for a bit of R&R. Your ‘take back’ list would no doubt include tea, some homemade chocolate and honey, perhaps a soft woolen blanket or two.  How about adding gourmet cheese as well?

The farm

A good chunk of the cheese comes from Acres Wild, an organic cheesemaking farm run by Mansoor Khan and his wife Tina.  Yes, this is the same Mansoor Khan who directed flicks like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar and Josh, and who more recently co-produced ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’ with Aamir Khan.  But Mansoor seems to have a completely different side to him, one which yearns to be a part of the great outdoors.  The Khan family moved to Coonoor from Mumbai in 2004, and Mansoor says, ‘‘It was my obsession to live outside the city, close to nature.  My family used to visit Coonoor annually on holiday and then I was luckily able to convince them to move here permanently .’’

tina-and-cheese-cupboard1

Lots of flavours:

All the cheese on the farm is made from the milk from Jersey and Holstein cows they raise. The cheeses of Acres Wild are handmade natural rind cheeses — much like wine, the cheeses are allowed to age and mature and as a result develop their rind naturally . Each has a distinct flavour and you can choose from hard cheeses like Gouda — with sub varieties like pepper and caraway seed — Cheddar, Romano, Colby and Monterey Jack, and soft cheeses like Acres-Fetta, Ricotta, Mozzarella and Camembert among others.

On holiday:

The farm is not open to the public but if you get in touch with Mansoor via email, he is more than willing to show you around and take you through the cheesemaking process. Also look out for the purebred cattle and ponds teeming with carp.  The farm also has donkeys, goats, hens, guinea fowls, turkeys, ducks and geese. If you are lucky, you can observe honey being harvested from the farm’s hives! The farm also has pear trees, plums, avocado, passion fruit, orange, fennel, rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage and a whole range of veggies, all grown organically. To get in touch with the Khans, email them a t acreswild@gmail.com  or  log onto www.acres-wild.com.

Tasty souvenirs

If you would like to gift people back home some cheese but don’t have the time to visit the above farms, head to these stores:

Bakers Junction, Bedford, Upper Coonoor. Details: 0423 2222223

Tulsi Mall, 31, Mount Pleasant Road, Coonoor. Details: 0423 2207277

Tranquilitea Tea Lounge, 136 B, Strathearn, Kothagiri Road. Details: www. tranquilitea.in

5
Jan

The Hindu Metroplus Feature on Acres Wild

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hindu-metroplus-photo-mansoor-tina-and-geese

An article in The Hindu Metroplus, Coimbatore by Pankaja Srinivasan that featured Acres Wild Cheese and bits about our farm and general plan in life.

Wild about Cheese by Pankaja Srinivasan.

It is a tad difficult to reconcile the two. One, a successful Bollywood film producer/director, and the other a farmhand at home with his cows and geese. But, reconcile we must, as Mansoor Khan says he has traded in his megaphone for manure, and, his wife Tina, the Mumbai life for mucking around in the farmyard and making cheese.

Fed up with the filmi life, they sought refuge in the Nilgiris. “But, beautiful as this place is, we needed to do something. We couldn’t just do nothing,” says Tina. “Mansoor suggested I make cheese, and I was taken aback,” says Tina. But, once she did some research online and asked around, she realised cheese making was not such a daunting task, and could actually be fun. “For one, it didn’t require this huge infrastructure and machines and stuff,” she says, “And, it was the perfect excuse to keep cows!”

They are inordinately proud of their cows. Pointing them out, Mansoor, dead ernest, says, “We want them to roam freely, graze to their heart’s content, and realise that they are cows, and not some milk-producing machines”. Funny as that sounds, we soon realise that that starting a farm is not just a whim for the Khans. They are committed to it. “Our aim is to have a sustainable lifestyle, not have too much of one thing,” says Mansoor. “ ‘Can Tina and I grow our own food?’ is the question.”

Mansoor hugely admires the messiah of organic farming, Masanobu Fukuoka, who wrote One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming. Like Fukuoka did, Mansoor too dreams of working in tandem with nature rather than controlling or interfering with Her. “We want to get to know the land, the animals that live off it and share our lifestyle with like minded people,” he says. And, that is why they are planning a ‘farm stay’ called Acres Wild (inspired by Jethro Tull).

Tina and Mansoor are chaffing at the bit as they wait for their ‘farm stay’ to reach completion. There will be a homestead where guests can stay and participate in the farm activity. There is a separate building exclusively for the cheese-making process, and, the cow shed is to be seen to be believed — straight out of Heidi! A sunny patch of the farm is reserved for the herbs Tina will need to flavour her cheese. A lake with plopping fish, and geese and ducks waddling around complete the bucolic charm.

Acres Wild cheese is already doing the rounds of the Nilgiris and Coimbatore. And, enquiries have been coming in from as far away as Kolkata. “It is gratifying, but that is not the scale at which we are looking to produce the cheese,” says Mansoor.

They reiterate that they want to make just enough to keep afloat and supply their immediate neighbourhood. “I find the task of making cheese enjoyable. I experiment with the flavours, spices, and so on. And, if the whole thing turns too big and ‘factory like’, the fun would be totally lost,” says Tina.

The milk comes from their cows and the cheese is made pretty much the old fashioned way. Tina is nicely philosophical. She admits, “Sometimes the cheese doesn’t turn out the way it is meant to, but that is okay, we finish it at home, and try again”. At the moment it is about adding chilli flakes to her cheese that she is debating. Smoked cheese is another favourite topic of conversation as Mansoor has fashioned a ‘smoker’ that gives the cheese its wonderful, woody taste. Right from its making to the vacuum packing,

Tina is in attendance. She is, of course, a great cook. And, every time he enjoys something she has made, Mansoor uploads the recipes on their website.

Gruyere, Gouda, Caerphilly, Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Parmesan and Camembert are some of the lip smacking success stories. Tina also makes a mean ricotta cheese, from the leftover whey. Low cal, full of proteins and delicious, it has been a great hit. “The only drawback is that it has a short shelf life, and should be eaten fresh,” she says.

The Acres Wild farm stay will throw open its doors to the ‘farmhands-at-heart’ soon. It is not a resort, say the Khans firmly. “It is for only those who enjoy the same things as we do. The cheese is a great by-product of this lifestyle.”

In Coimbatore, Acres Wild cheese is available at the Oxford Bookstore. For details call 0422-4204804. It is also available at the R.S Puram outlet of Nilgiris. To get to know the Khans some more, visit their Acres Wild website at http://www.acres-wild.com.

Photos: Cover and Centrespread K. Ananthan

– A favourite quote of the Khans from Masanobu Fukuoka’s book, One-Straw Revolution

1
Sep

Outlook Traveller on Acres Wild Cheese

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Check out the Sept Issue of Outlook Traveller for an article on Acres Wild Cheese by Brinda.  Printing the excerpt relating to Acres Wild Cheese here below……………….

THE BIG CHEESE
Brinda Suri on Coonoor’s quiet cheese revolution
Move over Niligiri tea, Niligiri cheese is the current flavour of the quiet, blue hills. After Ooty and Kodaikanal cheese, the latest hill station to make cheese news is Coonoor.The tucked-away town unexpectedly held new meaning when a department store salesperson in Bedford, Upper Coonoor, asked whether I needed ‘hard or soft cheese’. Standard grocery shops don’t usually offer such options. A little probing revealed…………………………………… quite a variety in Colby, Gouda, Gruyère, Camembert, Havarti, Monterey Jack, etc.

hard-cheese-paper-packed

I’m always sniffing around for fresh and natural-rind cheese, a subject of many a discussion courtesy my grandfather, a dairy specialist. I’ve relishedhis numerous cheese tales, the most delicious being those about his official bungalows with cellars full of cheese and I’ve always rued the fact that I wasn’t around then.

Acres Wild cheese, shares its name with the farm where it’s prepared. It’s also widely known as ‘Tina’s cheese’, a compliment to someone who started on a modest scale. It all began in 2006 when Tina Fonseca and her husband Mansoor Khan decided to move from the bustle of Bombay to the quiet of Coonoor. “The farm is largely our effort to shape a self-sustaining, organic lifestyle—to whatever degree that’s possible. So initially we kept cows for fertiliser, so came the milk and now the cheese,” says Mansoor, reflecting on a way of life far removed from his days under the arc lights. Yes, you do know him, as a film director who’s tasted success with blockbusters like QSQT, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander and as co-producer of the latest hit Jaane Tu…

cutting-the-curd

But today he would rather be associated with the Acres Wild concept of farming and its cheese which has built up a reputation with connoisseurs. The couple zealously logs in all experiences on their website which has become an interactive platform for those with similar interests.

Only select stores in Coonoor, Ooty and Coimbatore retail………….  The result is cheese that’s a must-buy on your next trip to the Nilgiris.

Contact
Tina & Mansoor Khan: No 1 Tiger Hill, Coonoor, Farm Address: 571, Upper Meanjee Estate, Kannimariamman Kovil Street, Coonoor; www.acres-wild.com