On a cheese trip
by Nikitha Bastain
New Indian Express
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?
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 .’’
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.
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 email@example.com or log onto www.acres-wild.com.
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