Could this be Bangkok’s cheesiest afternoon tea?
While many people naturally think of wine and cheese as the perfect pairing, there’s a less renowned combo that is just as time-tested and rewarding: tea and cheese! The dynamic duo François Robin and Kenneth Rimdahl will come under the spotlight when the “Europe, Home of Cheese” campaign returns to Bangkok for its second year this November.
Bangkok’s Cheesiest Afternoon Tea
On November 3, Robin joins local tea specialist Rimdahl to unlock incredible flavours with the pairing of French cheeses with tea varieties from Thailand. The showdown will be conducted by 1st runner-up Masterchef Thailand Season 1, Lisa Dawson, and will be live-streamed on Instagram via @homeofcheese_th for all to get a piece of the action.
Armed with years of expertise since childhood, French Cheesemonger expertRobin is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to cheese.Robin – who managed the cheese department at world-renown Parisian luxury grocer Fauchon with the title Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (Best French Craftsman) and the author of “Le Fromage pour les Nuls” (Cheese for Dummies) — will enrich the session with his tales of cheese history, cheesemaking and the many distinctive types of French cheese.
“More than a love affair, cheese is a backbone for me, a food I know since my childhood in the family cheesemaking farm,” saidRobin. “I love to think that each cheese is a landscape of French territory, an invitation to travel through senses, smells, textures, flavours. I also love the fact that it is really easy to connect with the cheese, as you don’t need to prepare or cook it – even if you can of course. I’m frequently asked which cheese is my favourite, well my answer is simple: it depends on my mood and time of year. Because cheese is so versatile that you can always find the one that suits you best.”
Robin will be joined for the session by Rimdahl, a tea aficionado who has been in the tea business since 1994 and is the owner of a Chiang Mai-based tea brand, whose handpicked single origin teas celebrate the diversity of northern Thailand’s forests.Robin andRimdahl will strive to find a balance of yin and yang between local tea and French cheeses. Whereas Lisa will be presenting the cheeses in the form of an afternoon tea. Together, they will highlight the variety and versatility of these incredible cheeses.
The pairing of tea and cheese is a dynamic marriage that promises unlimited possibilities. Thanks to concepts like terroir, tea pairing shares many of the same principles as wine pairing: balancing astringency with fat, contrasting salty and sweet, or matching like to like. The five cheeses bound for unsuspecting marriages including Bleu d’Auvergne, Camembert, Comté, Saint Paulin and Pont-l’Évêque.
What Makes French Cheese so Special?
Ask any Thai foodie to name their favourite cheese, and it is likely Comté, Camembert and Brie will pop up in the discussion. But that’s just the start. In fact, France boasts 1,200 varieties of cheese whose distinctive features are closely linked to their regions of origin and factors such as climate, soil and undersoil.
For generations, each region has developed its own know-how for dairy farming and processing. The result is a wealth of cheese, each with its own distinctive smell, flavour and texture — each a masterpiece waiting to be discovered.
Anytime, Anywhere and Anyhow
Who says cheese is limited to after-dinner or l’apero? By learning a thing or two about matching cheese and tea, you will note that cheese is not out of place at breakfast, lunch or, well, just about any time of day.
Back for a second year, “Europe, Home of Cheese” aims to promote France’s acclaimed expertise in cheese-making across a variety of events, ranging from chef talks and trade networking events to online contests, student masterclasses at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and supermarket tastings.
The campaign will highlight the rigorous agricultural production methods used in the European Union, particularly in regard to authenticity, respect for the environment and sustainability. These strong credentials ensure cheese is a fast-growing product category worldwide, including in markets like Thailand, where increasingly educated consumers are seeking more authentic and natural choices.
This campaign is part of the promotional program for CNIEL, with aid from the European Union. CNIEL is the French Dairy Interbranch Organization created by milk producers and dairy companies in France. CNIEL’s role is to promote a positive image of French milk and dairy products in France and abroad.
Emilie Martin, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, CNIEL says, “Cheese is getting more and more popular. The cheese trend in Asia started in Japan about 30 years ago and has made its way all around Asia, especially in open markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong or Thailand. French cheeses, with their diversity of textures, aromas and tastes, have naturally found their place in Asian cuisine and snacking habits.”
Adding to the fun is the “Europe, Home of Cheese” Instagram account (@homeofcheese_th), a page dedicated to all things cheesy, which provides live-streamed event, as well as heavily localised content like fun facts, inspiring recipes and pairing advices.
The Instagram page will also engage followers through contests and partnerships with key influencers in Bangkok’s cooking scene. These carefully selected ambassadors will share their diverse experiences with French cheese, from how it influences their cooking philosophy to the role it plays in their active lifestyle.
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