I did not get an opportunity to stay at Acres Wild while on my visit to Coonoor in April 2011 but I did make it a point to meet Manzoor Khan, the man behind Acres Wild. One thing I liked most about Manzoor, is his accessibility be it on e-mail or phone call. On reaching Coonoor I called him up at around 10am and he was more than happy to meet me and my family to show us around his vast property that includes a cheese making unit. We met him at around 10:30am while he was already in the midst of introducing the geese near a small lake, to some school children from nearby Coimbatore who had come for a tour of Acres Wild property. Unfortunately his better half Tina was missing in action that day but he did admit that she was the brain behind the cheese making unit at Acres Wild.
He met me as if we had known each other for ages. We had only interacted over e-mail and phone calls in the past. The children were scrambling around to get his autograph, for his earlier successful role as a leading Bollywood producer and director of well known hits with his cousin Aamir Khan. But now he has settled down for a quiet life in the hills surrounded by nature far away from the glamorous life he led at Bombay.
Manzoor was proud to admit that he learnt cheese making after coming down to Coonoor from his wife, Tina. He first showed us the natural biogas plant that he setup, which uses cattle manure as the only raw material to generate eco friendly energy. From here he took us to the cheese making unit and explained the entire cheese making process. Who says he is not an expert :) He took questions from everyone of us and meticulously explained each and every process. It was a great lesson on cheese making for me. I never imagined cheese making was an art before meeting Manzoor. Cheese and Wine manufacturing are so similar, where both are valued by its age and pedigree. There are so many varieties of cheese available and he explained most of them while taking us to the dark, cool cellar where cheese is stored to age. Later he invited us to taste the cheese prepared at the unit. It was given alongwith a biscuit and that was my first cheese tasting experience in my life.
Acres Wild also featured in HOMP hosted by my favorite foodies Rocky and Mayur (NDTV Good Times) and I did trail them here too.
I wished Manzoor good luck in his new venture and am sure he will be as successful here as he was in his previous Bollywood avatar. Maybe next time I will plan a stay at Acres Wild and learn cheese making in more detail......