A perfect pairing

On a winding lane off Mehrauli you’ll find a modern kitchen that is nothing less than a temple to gastronomy. This is where parties are catered, chefs are trained, and locally-sourced and organic produce is pimped and packaged: CAARA is introducing new ways to eat and consider food in the capital. There’s a white wall leading into their steel-and-tile kitchen that spells out the acronym in plain sans serif lettering: the Culinary Arts and Research Academy. We met with Alice Helme and Ambika Seth, the luminous minds at work behind these chopping boards to talk wine and cheese.
Our new season slate and marble cheese boards featured CAARA’s gruyere, fenugreek gouda, chilli garlic gouda, six month-aged parmesan, spiced soft brie, some imported English mild cheddar, and gorgonzola. Freshly prepared fig chutney, spiced apple compote, caramelised onion and thyme crackers, rosemary & sea salt crackers, and an assortment of fruit and nut like walnuts, almonds, prunes, apricots, and grapes. From large batches of canapés, a couple each of Parmigiano-Reggiano pannacotta and porcini tuile on black pepper sablé, caramelised onion, goat’s cheese, and plums on sourdough crostini, and Parma ham, figs, aged Modena balsamico sat pretty on our Indochine quarter plate. On the perfect cheese board

A cheese board is a multi-faceted dream world. The basic element to follow is variation, a hard cheese, and a soft cheese. It’s great to keep one cow-based, one goat- and one sheep-based cheese in the mix. Look at the taste profiling—keep a strong cheese and a mild one. Lots of great cheese is still imported, however, you can get some delicious Indian cheese—we work with fantastic artisans and a master cheese maker in Uttarakhand in the Himalayas. At 7000 feet, the weather is beautiful and the cows enjoy natural hill-grazing. The diet of the cow of course is integral to the quality of the milk and in turn the quality of the cheese. Here the grazing of flowers, herbs, and organic feed produces wholesome milk and happy cows. We are working on expanding our range of fresh cheese at the moment, but offer five varieties for the taking in the interim.

It’s always a great way to start an evening with drinks. We often serve it for easy dining at home along with CAARA selection of dips and marinated olives. It’s fast, delicious, stylish and most importantly little fuss, so you're free to enjoy stress-free drinks with your friends.
Everything is down to personal taste but we recommend:

Soft creamy cheese like a brie to be eaten with a slightly sweeter cracker like a digestive. To elevate the cheese you can also go for a charcoal cheese cracker and a berry compote. Here we’d suggest a full-bodied red—keeping it Indian we'd say Grover Vineyards La Reserve Cabernet Shiraz.2.
CAARA's spiced soft cheese on a CAARA thyme cracker and onion marmalade paired with a light crisp white works wonders—a Pinot Grigio Chardonnay, although not Indian-made, is easily available in stores and just right.
CAARA Gouda Fenugreek is great with our rosemary crackers. Classically paired with full-bodied red’s like a French Bordeaux, pick one up at the nearest liquor shop and you’re good to go. Pick from a selection of CAARA’s paired Cheese platers, from in-house cheeses farmed in Uttarakhand to Swiss truffled brie. You’ll find a range from Gruyere, Gouda Fenugreek, Gouda Chili Garlic, 6 month-aged Parmesan, Spiced Soft Brie. To order their cheese platers email easydining@caara or see their website, or enjoy them on Instagram here.