There are certain foods that “speak” of Israel. Middle-eastern cuisine is known for its spice, its ta’am, and its lack of concern for calories. One such decadent treat is the boureka, a baked phyllo dough delight made with various fillings, and eaten hot and crispy. A good boureka melts in your mouth; an inferior one droops with oil and tastes heavy, even soggy. At Gaton’s Food, a food distributor located in Concord, Ontario, president Joseph Bitton decided there was room in the Canadian market for a high-quality frozen boureka, and the hunt was on.
Mr. Bitton first turned to Israel, thinking to import straight from the source. While the price was competitive, he found that there was nothing “special” in the products he sampled; they didn’t have the quality he was looking for. So Mr. Bitton decided to go into production for himself, and Mehoudar Bourekas was born.
Mr. Bitton wanted a boureka that was flaky, not oily, and searched for just the right shortening to get the proper texture. The product debuted at a free tasting at IGA Cavendish in Montreal. Gaton Foods provided enough bourekas for 700 people, thinking it would be adequate for the day; the store ran out after an hour, as people came back two or three times for additional samples!
The company’s goal is to grow beyond the kosher market, which seems more than possible given public response to the product. The bourekas are sold in 600-gram boxes (ten bourekas to a box), and come in potato, mushroom/potato, pizza, and tuna. The tuna bourekas are Bishul Yisroel; all varieties are trans-fat free, and boxes marked with a special sticker are Yoshon as well. The company is also developing cheese bourekas that will be Cholov Yisroel. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to try making your own, Gaton Foods also sells the phyllo dough separately in one-pound blocks. Look for the bourekas in Loblaws stores in both Ontario and Quebec, at IGA and Metro-Queen Mary in Montreal, Sobey’s, or in one of the three Metro stores in Toronto that serve the kosher market. Mehoudar Bourekas will shortly be available in Walmart in both cities as well.