I, Vasco de CS – your intrepid kosher Conquistador – in an effort to bring all that’s kosher and great to The Kosher Scene, set about on an journey to find the variety of kosher cheeses available in New York City. Accompanied by Elizabeth Bland a world class cheese expert whom I interviewed last week, (you can hear the recording here) we toured the kosher cheese sections (on Monday afternoon) sections at Zabar’s on Broadway and 80th – in Manhattan – and at Fairway on Broadway and 74th.
Ms. Bland’s encyclopedic knowledge of all things cheese was immediately evident as she explained the various types of kosher cheese and hechsherim from around the world.
There were selections from Israel, France, Spain, Italy, UK, New York State, Wisconsin, etc, etc….. She had tasted every one and had much to say about each. The rich selection was comprised of both cholov Yisroel and non cholov Yisroel types. Made from cow’s milk, goat milk, raw milk, some were very pungent, some were very sharp, some were mild in taste and smell.Elizabeth clarified some major differences amoungst the manufacturers, their aging processes along with those individual aged cheeses that require the halachic six hours waiting time before eating meat. It was great to find certain cheese companies listed how long the individual cheese had been aged, unfortunately, this is not a universal practice, but it certainly should be! It would make it faaaar easier to determine whether one is required to wait six hours or not.
We then trekked six blocks south to Fairway. It was my first visit to Fairway (we don’t have one in Brooklyn) and while more crowded and with narrower isles than Zabar’s, I found the variety of foods abundant and the clientele diverse. They too had a great selection of kosher cheeses from around the world, and we discovered some that we hadn’t seen at Zabar’s and some were not present here.
There’s nothing like traveling with a seasoned navigator; my outing with Elizabeth was educational and informative; we plan a follow up with a trip to Brooklyn’s Pomegranate to compare their cheese section with those we visited in the city.