Last Friday afternoon, my lovely and esteemed coworker, Kassandra, invited me to meet her at Gourmet Shop for a wine and cheese tasting date. (Each Friday, the shop owner, Michael, offers complimentary wine tasting, so we took the opportunity!) I left my apartment at approximately 11:30, and on my walk, I feasted my eyes upon the extraordinarily busy streets of Tel Aviv. For some reason, I thoroughly enjoy the chaos that precedes Shabbat every week. People young and old scurry about the city, carrying beautifully braided challah, lugging pomegranates and other produce, eating street shwarma dripping with tehina, and shopping for whatever they may need for the night. This distinctive storm before the calm of Shabbat reminds me that I am indeed in Israel…
Upon reaching my destination at 148 Ibn Gvirol, Florence, the young lady at the cheese counter welcomed me with a warm smile slathered in the signature Israeli red lipstick. She kindly offered me a glass of ruby-colored Bordeaux to enjoy while Kassandra came from around the corner.
Once Kassandra arrived, we tasted a plethora of delicious cheeses imported from France and crafted in northern Israel on the farms near Tzfat. Florence kindly gave us a generous sampling of various cheeses, including perfectly salty parmesan, buttery brie, smoky gouda, and others.
I mentioned to Florence that I loved anything and everything with truffles, so she kindly cut off creamy slice of Brillat-Savarin infused with black truffles. With a brie-like consistency and the magical earthy flavor of highly coveted mushrooms, this cheese was remarkable! We also tasted the “Butter De Poetry” cheese that had a buttery yellow color, a soft and delicate texture, and a hazelnutty taste. Under the regulations of the AOC, this cheese comes to Israel in wooden barrels, relics of Old World European style. In this small Tel Aviv food shop, Kassandra and I tasted world-class cheese.
After our cheese tasting, we explored the quaint shop a bit, noticing the artisanal goods lining the walls.
We feasted our eyes upon packages of beautiful spaghetti, handcrafted pesto, truffle oil, raspberry-infused Dijon mustard, aged balsamic vinegar, and other specialty items imported from France. My eyes naturally drifted to the bars of dark chocolate with honey and chili, almonds and sea salt, and other unique combinations. YUM.
Florence also offered us a panini to enjoy for my first visit to the shop. Israeli hospitality with French products—we were lucky ladies! She made us a panini on artisan bread with creamy Brillat-Savarin cheese, oil-soaked artichokes and sundried tomatoes.
I cannot wait to go back to the Gourmet Shop for their grand opening soiree on November 14th! RSVP with me!! http://tinyurl.com/6xzsv57
Wishing you a week of pesto, proscuitto, and parmesan,