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Dairy of Distinction

Shira Yehudit Djalilmand

Gourmet cheeses are rapidly growing in popularity and are now being produced even in Israel, a country not renowned for its selection of cheeses. Family First explores the world of specialty cheeses with the Brakin family’s Barkanit Dairy in northern Israel.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

cheeseFor decades, the chalav Yisrael consumer was satisfied with simple cheeses — basics such as cheddar, and of course the ubiquitous slabs of processed cheese. Yet as the kosher world began exploding with gourmet food, and palates became more sophisticated, a hankering for quality cheese developed too. But there were very few options to satisfy the discerning tastes of a true turophile — a cheese aficionado.

Into this vacuum entered the Brakin family, founders of Barkanit Dairy in northern Israel, which specializes in producing Israeli cheese with a taste of Europe, and boasting a chalav Yisrael OU hechsher to boot.

The Barkanit dairy is less than an hour’s drive from Tzfas, in the beautiful Gilboa region. A lush green valley, it stands bordered by rolling hills, lorded over by the familiar shape of Mount Tabor. Here, in over 500 acres of land, the Brakins pasture their herd of close to 800 goats and sheep whose milk is used to produce their cheeses. Founded in 1978 by husband and wife team Avinoam and Michal Brakin, the dairy produces a variety of sheep’s and goats’ milk cheeses, both semi-soft and hard, which mimic European cheeses in quality and taste.

Avinoam Brakin grew up in the village Kfar Yechezkel, where the dairy is situated, while his wife and partner Michal grew up in nearby Moshav Tel Adashim. The couple, who married soon after high school, have four children aged 26 to 37, all of whom are involved in the family business.



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