This and That

Random bits of my life

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.

6 Responses to “Basher Fromagerie, the Best (Not Kosher) Cheese in Town”

  1. Devra Ariel said

    The shot with the cheese in the round plastic boxes is fabulous. It could be in Gourmet Magazine. Well-framed, and with the man with the knife the background. THAT’s a perfect shot!

  2. Pam said

    You really are doing such a great job with your photography! Another gorgeous post! And another great adventure! It is good I am forced to experience this shop on the internet! 700 cheeses – how in the world did you settle on just one? I am sure you will be returning!

  3. Shmuel Browns said

    I too love Basher’s and having moved back to Jerusalem from Cambridge, MA where our local grocery was a Whole Foods Market with their phenomenal cheese department, finding that artisan breads and cheeses are available has made living here a little easier. As a tour guide I get the opportunity to travel around Israel and I can report that there are quite a few Israeli cheeses that I think, like Israeli wines, are of world class quality. Check out the grandfather of goat’s cheeses, Shai Seltzer at Sataf or these farms, Kornmehl, Himmelfarb, Naot, Naot Smadar, Ein Camonim.

  4. julie said

    oh yes, we also discovered this amazing place a couple of weeks ago. heaven!!
    you got some lovely shots. i forgot about my camera while in the shop!!

  5. Miriyummy said

    Just seeing this now thanks to your FB push, but, my oh my, a pilgrimmage is in order. Maybe next week, are you up for a meet-up?

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