The Duo Making Artisanal Cheese In Their Bombay Basement

The Duo Making Artisanal Cheese In Their Bombay Basement
The Spotted Cow Fromagerie

“Well, many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese–toasted, mostly...”

“You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese.”

Cheese is a unifying factor in this strange world - as an American apple pie topping, subject material for Danish fairy tales and even praise for Kerala’s mouse worshiping religion, Dinkoism (“May cheese be upon him”) - except for you poor lactose intolerants, may god or Dinko the Mouse come to your aid.

But seriously, at this moment, a Sherpa in Nepal is sucking on hard Yak cheese, a sheik in the UAE is munching on some Camel cheese, and a bloke from Sweden is slicing up a wheel of Moose cheese. With almost 2,000 varieties and a history exceeding 4,000 (maybe even 6000) years, a love of cheese is practically the only thing this damn world can agree upon. And on the fringes of the bustling city of Mumbai, down in a Dahisar basement, two brothers are taking fresh cows’ milk and churning it into heavenly, cheesy creations that are so dang scrumptious they help us living in this hectic city get along a bit better.

Operating under the name Spotted Cow Fromagerie the Mehra brothers, Prateeksh and Agnay, have demonstrated that if you make cheese with love and hard work, people will come knocking on your door, even if you live in the middle of nowhere, and beg for some cheese. Lucky for you Spotted Cow cheese is available at many outlets across the city, such as, Nature’s Basket and Food Hall.

The Spotted Cow Fromagerie Cheese platter

This dairy duo slashes any stereotype of pretentious cheese makers, and are best described as two relaxed dudes, who happen to make miraculously delicious cheese. In fact, their foray into cheese-making only occurred due to another great creation - beer, glorious beer. Prateeksh, the older of the Mehra brothers, was micro-brewing around the same time that pairing craft beer and artisanal cheese was a trend taking over the States. For all you wine lovers scoffing right now, I’ll have you know some beers pair with various cheeses just as well or even better than wine. Aged Gouda and Amber Ales, London Pride and English Cheddar, Shropshire Blue cheese and an Imperial Stout - the sky’s the limit.

Prateeksh figured he’d take a shot at cheesemaking for pairing purposes and reached out to his extended family in Jersey for some equipment. A few months later, he took his Brie to a food expo just for kicks, and got the shock of his lifetime. People went crazy for the Brie, and so the Mehra brothers decided to share their gift and give the people what they wanted. Little did they know that giving the people what they wanted would result in one of India’s foremost Fromageries.

Spotted Cow Fromagerie now serves up an arsenal of great cheeses. Many of you living in Mumbai have already tried their Camembert (or Camembay) on Woodside Inn’s drool-worthy Truffle Kale Pizza. The Camembert ties the flavours of the whole pie together resulting in pizza that is a real treat for foodies and picky eaters alike. The author of this article has even seen a Guju friend of his attack this unconventional pizza with the vigor and vehemence of a starved prisoner, even though his sole conception of food has been paneer and mangoes for the better part of two decades. Such is the power of great cheese that it can bring joy to even the most hopeless of eaters.

Baked Brie with Cherries ,Walnuts and fresh Thyme; courtesy of The Spotted Cow Fromagerie

Although the Camembert (Camembay) and Brie (Bombrie) are the founding pillars of Spotted Cow Fromagerie, the Mehra brothers are not about laying back and being complacent. They now have an entire suite of cream cheeses that cater to both lazy and creative eaters, just as long as they have functioning taste buds. The shameful and unscrupulous author of this article has no qualms about shoving a spoon into a Spotted Cow container of Roasted Garlic and Herb or Paprika cream cheese and shoveling it into his mouth; however, the cream cheese is best on fresh bread or bagels for breakfast. They are also a surefire way to spice up a wine and cheese party as Spotted Cow offers six varieties of cream cheese, each priced under INR 300.

More experienced foodies should try their cream cheeses as savoury crepe or dosa filling. The cheeses are also lovely as Panini fillings, Frittata ingredients, as well as a great binding agent for Pâté. You get the gist of it, they offer a bevy of delicious and versatile cheeses that belong in your belly.

The Mehra brothers, also, like to play around with cheese-centric dishes and were good enough to post a few recipes on their website, like, Baked Brie with Walnuts, Cherries, and Thyme or Crumb Fried Camembert. You can check out their recipes here.

Crumb Fried Camembay; courtesy of The Spotted Cow Fromagerie

The author obviously rather likes Spotted Cow’s entire selection of cheeses, but the one that stole his heart is a bit of a bastard. Robiola is an old Italian soft style cheese from the Stracchino family, and this heartthrob, or heart-clog, from the Langhe region is typically made with proportions of goat and sheep’s milk in addition to cow’s milk. The Mehra brothers find the prospect of a consistent source of fresh, high-quality goat and sheep’s milk an unlikely possibility in Mumbai, and thus make the cheese with only cow’s milk, hence the bastard was born. Foul language and varied style aside, the Robiola (Rombay) is somehow a bloody, badass cheese. Cutting through the thin rind gives way to a white cakey texture. The cheese isn’t runny per se, but very smooth and malleable, and the taste is out of this world with hints of lemon. The author left the Fromagerie with a entire brie-sized wheel of Robiola, which did not make it through the night.

So if you haven’t tried it before, the bastard Robiola beckons.

You can pick up these locally-made cheese all across the city. The cheese, made with lots of love, is better than cheap imports, many of which have a miserable, plastic-like rind and cost the same as a sky rocket. Even if you like wasting money, local cheeses are far more fresh and they don’t leave behind huge environmental footprints.

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