Out in the Pacific Northwest Inlander, Leah Sottile surveyed a range of non-dairy cheeses available in local stores.Since most of those sounded like they'd be available elsewhere as well, I thought I'd convey her report to you.
Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve sampled all kinds of faux cheeses to see how they measure up to the real thing. And maybe it’s because I don’t have a physical ailment that prevents me from eating them — but most of them aren’t very good at all.
There are exceptions, however. At Yoke’s on Argonne and at Huckleberry’s (at the Y and on the South Hill), you can get your hands on a sizable bag of Daiya cheese in either cheddar or mozzarella. Vegans are going nuts for Daiya, a fairly new brand, because unlike so many faux cheeses it melts and stretches and gets all goopy for nachos and things like that. We used the mozzarella in a veggie lasagna, and the Daiya acted just like the real stuff — adding body and a creaminess when intermingled with our homemade marinara, whole-wheat pasta, mushrooms, spinach and spices.
And a week later, a friend threw Daiya in a bread and-mushroom panade — again, I was impressed. The cheddar was a little more over the top in the flavor department, delivering a surprising punch that tasted like Velveeta. We made a Mexican pizza with it and it was a little much — but would have been great in a mac ’n’ cheese.
In searching for good cheese alternatives, creamy, spreadable “cheeses” seemed to be a safe bet. I was shocked by how addictive all of the We Can’t Say It’s Cheese spreadable cheeses were. I picked up their Cheddar-style Spread and Hickory-Smoked Cheddar-Style Spread at Rosauers on 29th and was totally shocked at how tasty they were on everything. Crackers. Sandwiches. Tortillas. Chips. And, oddly, all of spreads are made from oats. And they taste like cheese. Weird. If for some reason I couldn’t eat cheese any more, this stuff would definitely become a cornerstone of my diet. Tofutti cream cheese and sour cream were both spot-on with the flavor of the real stuff — I’m sure I could sneak either of them to an unwilling vegan cheese consumer and they’d have no idea.
Though not vegan (it contains a milk product called casein), the Lisanatti Almond Garlic & Herb style cheese alternative surprised me with its peppery flavor and toothsome texture. You’ll see it as often as the Tofutti brand in stores, and it’s definitely superior. I ate a few pictures by it self — and wasn’t blown away, but didn’t throw it in the garbage like the Follow Your Heart stuff. However, on the way back to the fridge, I dropped it and was slightly grossed out by how high off the ground the block bounced. Ew.
The brands don’t end at the grocery store: Online, you can find Dr. Cow Aged Cheeses made from cashews, the Daiya-like Teese Cheese, and the Edam, Gouda and Cheshire-style Sheese.
She really didn't like the products from Follow Your Heart at all. Bad odor.
She's still on the trail of the perfect cheesy substitute. She just hasn't found it.