How can I transport some tofu cream cheese across the Atlantic?
September 15, 2008 1:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some advice about transporting tofu cream cheese for long distances. Specifically, on a flight across the Atlantic.

I'm going to visit a couple of friends in Germany tomorrow. To thank them for their hospitality, I wanted to bring along some NYC bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. After reading about the EU's customs regulations and seeing that they don't allow milk-based imports from non-Schengen countries, I decided to bring tofu cream cheese (which I like better anyway, although it's not quite as classic) from one of the bagel stores in Williamsburg.

Basically, I want to know:
- what, if anything, needs to be done for this tofu cream cheese so that it doesn't spoil during the flight (which has a long layover in Dulles, so I can't count on it staying cool in the hold)?
- does this need to be declared?
- bonus points for advice on how to keep bagels fresh for 24 hours.

No, I'm not saying where I'm buying the bagels, because I don't want to get into a holy war.
posted by kdar to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
Most airlines will let you pack dry ice in a cooler. The limit is usually 5 lbs of dry ice.

I think your biggest problem, though, is going to be convincing customs that the cream cheese isn't dairy-based. Make sure it's sealed and that the packaging lists the ingredients.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:16 PM on September 15, 2008

I would get all the air sucked out of the bagel bag. Also, can't you buy cream cheese there? Aren't the bagels the more important part of the equation?
posted by piedmont at 1:25 PM on September 15, 2008

I was surprised to see Philly cream cheese in Spain, so it's entirely possible you can get it in Germany.
posted by O9scar at 1:46 PM on September 15, 2008

Here in Brussels there are about 10 different brands of cream cheese on the shelves -- including the old American standby, Philadelphia, and, in the right store, veggie alternatives. On the other hand, bagels, especially good ones, are very hard to come by. It's the fresh bagels that are going to be the important part of the gift -- cream cheese is comparatively easy to find. So I'd recommend bringing just the bagels and worrying about what to put on them when you get to Europe.

That said, I don't have a better recommendation for how to bring them over except to seal them up tight in plastic bags and hope for the best.
posted by dseaton at 1:49 PM on September 15, 2008

I've transported bagels overnight although not as far. Seal them up in a plastic bag, remove the air and you'll be good. Bagels travel very well. If they're in your hand luggage and totally under your control then even a sturdy paper bag will be fine. The main thing is to make sure the bagels aren't still warm when you seal them up (condensation in the bag) and that the bag is water tight or kept dry, you don't want the bread getting soggy.

I second the idea of getting toppings when you get there. If nothing else make sure you keep the cream cheese totally separate from the bagels so if it gets confiscated you still have the bagels.
posted by shelleycat at 1:59 PM on September 15, 2008

Nthing the advice not to bring cream cheese or any facsimile thereof to Germany. You have surely heard the expression "coals to Newcastle," yes? Cream cheese is not a rare delicacy in Germany.

Bagels, on the other hand--yes.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:25 PM on September 15, 2008

yeah, i can't imagine you can't get decent cream cheese in germany. i wouldn't bother.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:36 PM on September 15, 2008

When I lived in the Czech Republic, I had to go to Hungary to get proper NY-style bagels... and when I lived in Munich, they were nowhere to be found. Cream cheese -- to echo what everyone else has said -- is not exactly tough to come by, or find a substitute for (I like quark even better, personally). But if you can figure out how to smuggle the bagels, that'd be awesome.
posted by at 7:04 PM on September 15, 2008

Thanks for the responses, all!

Turns out that there was one thing I didn't consider when transporting the bagels: I put them in a plastic bag in my luggage; unfortunately, that bag wasn't air-tight, so my shirts all ended smelling like everything bagels. Next time I do this I'm going to double bag the bagels, or perhaps bag both the bagels and my clothes.

As to the cream cheese, it turned out that there was a quite nice local brand.
posted by kdar at 12:52 AM on September 18, 2008

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