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Random bits of my life

Archive for July 12th, 2009

Basher Fromagerie, the Best (Not Kosher) Cheese in Town

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 12, 2009

It seems presumptuous for me to blog about a place that I only visited for a few minutes, last Thursday, but I don’t think I will ever forget it. And it will not be my only visit.

If there’s a kosher cheese heaven, it must be Basher’s Fromagerie in Mahane Yehuda (53 Etz Hayim Street, the covered shuk, midway between Yaffo and Agrippas, 02-625-7969).

Basher's Fromagerie

Eli Basher and his brother Dudi are Mahane Yehuda veterans (or vatikim, as we call them). Their grandfather and father ran a successful restaurant in the shuk for many years. Now Eli Basher has a shop that carries over 700 kinds of kosher cheeses. Actually, I read one article that claims 850 cheeses, but I’ve never counted. Maybe I’ll ask next time I’m there.

Basher's Fromagerie

The staff know their cheeses and will press upon you any number of free samples.

Basher's Fromagerie

My moment of capitulation arrived with the Gruyere. I like Gruyere and always thought of it as a nice, mild, nutty cheese for making fondue, among other things. Goes well with dry wines. Remember that scene in “Confessions of a Shopaholic” where the heroine, deeply in debt, sees the perfect green scarf and decides that she MUST have that scarf? That’s what happened to me when I tasted the Gruyere. The flavour was so deep and penetrating, the texture so smooth and melting, that I knew I had to purchase that cheese. I hadn’t planned to buy anything, just take pictures. A tiny wedge cost more than a whole chicken. I had to have that cheese.

Basher's Fromagerie

I used only 50 gms of that wedge of cheese to make a tomato and gruyere quiche. The other 50 gms are carefully wrapped and stored for my next inspiration.

I found an article on the Web that describes Eli and Dudi’s wine and cheese shop, Wine & More (New Industrial Zone – Rishon LeZion, G-compound, Yaldei Teheran 3 Street), in Rishon LeZion. No idea whether it’s kosher. It probably isn’t.

A co-worker told me that the kosher cheese industry received a boost, indirectly, from the outbreak of mad cow disease. Many European cheese-makers switched to microbial rennet, which made it much easier to receive kosher certification. (Kosher cheeses can be made with animal rennet, but most are made with synthetic rennet. The OU site has a clearly written, somewhat technical, article that explains kosher dairy products.)


Update (July 2011): I’ve heard reports that not all of Basher’s cheeses are kosher, so check the wrapper first! If you’re buying off the block, as to see a wrapper or certification. It’s still fabulous cheese but you can’t assume that it’s all kosher or chalav yisroel, etc.

Update (January 2012): Basher’s has no kosher supervision. Sorry! What a pity….
See Jerusalem Kosher News for details.

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