Egypt Independent

Fromagerie: A better bread and cheese

Fromagerie is a new entrant in the high-end delicatessen market in Cairo. The Maadi-based retail store serves cheese imported from Europe and home-made bread. Well, the bread is not exactly home-made. It’s imported as frozen dough, then rises and cooks in Fromagerie’s ovens–supposedly due to the lack of sufficiently interesting flour in Egypt. The basic flour available in Egypt is fine for basic white breads and baladi

bread, but to bake exceptional versions of the more tasty, hearty, robust European-style bread, you need different flour.

The result is very satisfactory. But perhaps the frozen dough, or merely the thought of frozen dough, makes it not quite as tasty as French bread baked in France directly from the oven. It’s comes pretty close though. The plain or olive baguettes have a crunchy crust and delicate fluffy inside. Something called the batard–in France made from the leftovers of a baguette batch–is like a grown-up, over-ripened baguette, and is great for sandwiches. The ardennais is flatter and denser. The cereal and grain loaves are weighty and hearty; and there are even mini raisin and walnut scones on offer.

Cheese comes in two varieties: pre-packed for quick takeout in one fridge, and massive cheese rounds behind another counter. Many types of cheese are available, including those made from cow, goat and sheep milk.

The store also stocks delicious butter, although this isn’t a spectacular improvement on what’s available locally. The cow’s milk cheese available at Fromagerie includes beaufort, comte, emmantal, tomme, and even raclette. Years ago, on a stay in southern France, I came across a zesty version of tomme from the mountains. When the knowledgeable saleslady behind the counter at Fromagerie pulled out this same delicious Tomme de Savoie, I knew that I was hooked. The cheese, when taken home and served on freshly cut batard bread, is a delight to the senses.

Fromagerie has positioned itself between upscale grocery stores like Seoudi or Metro, where some of the same cheeses are available, and the super-upscale boutiques and delivery services that have opened up in recent years, including Gourmet, Delicatesse du Monde, and Voila. Fromagerie’s layout certainly makes it easier for local clients to pop in and browse, and in Degla there are certainly enough well-heeled clients to afford some of Fromagerie’s rather expensive prices.

It will be interesting to see how this positioning pays off, as there’s little else to woo customers into Fromagerie’s store, unless they are in any case on their way to the wonderful Italitian delicatessen across the street. You can’t hang out there, or have a coffee. But the bread is indeed delicious, and this could be all the edge the place needs to succeed.

Details: 9, 231 St., Degla, Maadi, across from the Italian delicatessen.

Tel: 19796. Delivery in Maadi only.

Open daily from 9 AM to 10 PM. Bread is priced similar to other European style bakeries (baguettes for LE11); for European cheeses expect to pay European prices.