Field Roast CHAO slices – Tomato Cayenne

When we last posted about CHAO slices, we had not yet tried the best one of all: Tomato Cayenne.

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This flavor is by far the best … it’s spicy and very flavorful, and it melts beautifully on veggie burgers. Thanks to its robust flavor, it also tastes far better than the other CHAO slices on cold sandwiches.

 

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The photo above is a little washed out — the cheese is actually a very bright orange — and it’s well worth a try, even if you aren’t yet sold on the other CHAO varieties. And it’s a fantastic vegan cheese option for anyone who likes a little spice.

Food Fight’s cheese selection…

A visit to Portland isn’t complete without a visit to Food Fight…and now I must also add the fact that a visit will not be complete unless I have a large cooler and a straight trip home. The abundance of vegan cheeses I wanted to try is amazing…

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I have yet to see a camembert -style cheese in another grocery store, so I can’t wait to try what Vtopian offers.

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For those not within reasonable distance of Food Fight, visit the Vtopian website, where you can order these magnificent cheeses online.

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The Vtopian site offers an even greater selection — including a maple seitan cheeseball and dark chocolate strawberry brie, for the adventurous and sweet-toothed — but to me, these basics look far more appealing.

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Vtopian is, not surprisingly, based in vegan-friendly Eugene, Oregon — all cheeses are hand-crafted from organic ingredients.

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Vtopian cheeses are mostly cashew-based, but I am looking forward to sampling this macadamia-nut cheese, in this camembert below.

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If you’re in Portland, visit and support Food Fight — and if not, look for these delicious cheeses here.

Daiya cream cheese

Most vegans are well aware of Daiya and its vast and yummy selection of vegan cheeses; this company provides many vegan staples…like cream cheese.

DaiyaI’ve sampled many vegan cream cheeses out there, and I’ve found Daiya to be the best so far (same goes for its shreds, which melt very well and are rich and cheesy).

Now, back to cream cheese.

Daiya bagelWhile many vegan cream cheeses are either dry, or weirdly textured, or flavorless, Daiya’s is smooth, creamy, and has that tangy cream-cheese flavor. The plain cream cheese version is a bit too sweet for me, but the chive-and-onion version is just right. (It also comes in strawberry, which I imagine is very good for those who like their  cream cheese on the sweet side.)

Teese – Vegan Mozzarella Style Vegan Cheese

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I  was quite excited to find this Teese mozzarella cheese at the Ashland Food Co-Op.  A review from a customer at Vegan Essentials gave it a 5-star review, so I was hoping I would love it. The packaging is a bit unusual, but it looks and cuts just like fresh mozzarella.

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Uncooked, Teese mozzarella doesn’t have much flavor, other than a lingering hint of  flour, possibly from the tapioca starch as a main ingredient. This cheese is gluten-free, soy-free, and vegan.

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As mentioned on the Teese website, the product melts beautifully and stretches like real mozzarella. However, even when cooked, it is a bit flavorless. I was disappointed that I preferred the pizza with no cheese over the pizza with Teese. Oscar, my dog who eats just about anything, seemed to agree. I tried to hide a pill in some leftover Teese, and he spit it out.

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My search for a great mozzarella vegan cheese continues.

 

Miyoko’s French Style Winter Truffle

I honestly didn’t think Miyoko’s could top its amazing Double Cream Chive, but this one comes pretty close.

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Winter Truffle is an exceptionally rich, creamy vegan cheese that is best described by Miyoko’s Kitchen: “An elegant, woodsy, and earthy wheel marbled with truffle-scented mushrooms. Explodes with deep umami flavors in a luxurious creamy base.” This description is spot-on.

wtWe enjoyed this on crackers and crusty bread, but it would also be delicious mixed into pasta or risotto.

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And, this cheese goes very well with this lovely Handley pinot noir — also vegan, of course.

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Miyoko’s Double Cream Chive

There’s a lot to love about Miyoko‘s cheeses. (A brief aside: As the Miyoko’s Kitchen website points out, “Because our product isn’t made from dairy, in the state of California, we can’t call it cheese … we’ve decided simply to go with the flow, call our creations cultured nut products, and have fun with it! After all, we’re a team of cultured nuts ourselves.” Check out their About Us page; they truly are having fun with it.)

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We’ve now sampled several of Miyoko’s “cultured nut products,” and they are all spectacular. The Double Cream Chive, however, wins our first-place vote.

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This amazing vegan cheese is soft, creamy, incredibly flavorful, and all around just about perfect. (For anyone who may be wondering, this cheese is not only vegan but GMO-, soy-, and gluten-free.) In a word, it’s perfect.

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While so far, we’ve enjoyed this on crusty bread and crackers, it’s a versatile cheese that you can use in many other ways, such as on baked potatoes. Check out Miyoko’s blog for delicious recipes.

And come back soon for more reviews of Miyoko’s cheeses, aka cultured nut products.

Field Roast CHAO slices

Finally, CHAO slices came to our small town. We’ve been hearing about them for a long time and were so excited to try them at last. (We love and adore almost every other Field Roast product out there, so we couldn’t be happier they’ve added cheeses, too.)

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CHAO slices come in three varieties — Creamy Original, Coconut Herb, and Tomato Cayenne. We found the first two at our local co-op and are still searching for Tomato Cayenne.

CHAO is a non-dairy coconut cheese; the Field Roast website reads, “Chao Cheese is a continuation of our fascination with combining traditional Asian and European foods to create new culinary fusions, which we’ve done by partnering with a Greek cheese maker and a family in Taiwan who makes the Chao.” Yum.

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Probably because of the coconut oil base, the slices feel a little waxy, and they are not especially flavorful if eaten straight from the package (yes, I do eat vegan cheese straight from the package). However, once melted on sandwiches or bagels, the flavors come alive, and both these varieties are delicious.

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For anyone wondering, the Coconut Herb variety doesn’t taste like coconut; it just has a lovely herb flavor, and we found it to be more savory than the Creamy Original. While we enjoy these best when melted, we did pack a sandwich one day with CHAO Creamy Original slices, and it tasted great even after half a winter’s day in the car.

These slices are the best I’ve had yet, so try them out for all the sandwichy things you’ll need. And it gets much better than sandwiches…check out the Field Roast website for their CHAO recipes.

Treeline Cracked Pepper

While many vegans are looking for cheese to melt on sandwiches or in recipes, one of the things I missed most (until now) was simply snacking on cheese and crackers…which wasn’t always easy to do. Treeline‘s cracked pepper cheese, however, is perfect for slicing and nibbling.

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This cheese comes in a small package (which doesn’t last long in my house), but which would be perfect for a small party…probably 2-4 people could enjoy this little round of delicious, creamy, peppery cheese.

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It slices beautifully, and the pepper that layers the top adds a wonderful kick to an otherwise smooth, nutty flavor. There is no way a non-vegan would not love this cheese (gluten-free and made of cashews) — so it’s a great item to bring to parties and gatherings.

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Visit Treeline to learn more about its delicious cheese (and we have more reviews of Treeline cheeses to come, so visit us again!). I especially love Treeline’s page Why We’re Dairy-Free, and don’t miss the company’s FAQ page, which will tell you all about Treeline’s cheeses and why nut cheeses are so much healthier than dairy.

Three cheeses from Miyoko’s Kitchen

Our samplings of vegan cheeses continues! The good news is that is a wonderful journey, and I’ve loved almost every cheese I’ve tried so far. (Check out our last vegan cheese tasting if you missed it.)

Alas, not one of the cheeses from our previous tasting is yet available here in Ashland (we’re working on this). Fortunately, the amazing Miyoko’s Kitchen delivers. In the online store, you can order a “collection” of plant-based cheeses or mix and match. We ordered one of the collections, which included Aged English Smoked Farmhouse, Aged English Sharp Farmhouse, and High Sierra Rustic Alpine.

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The cheeses arrived within two days via FedEx, in a large box packed with ice packs. (Note: Because Miyoko’s is based in the Bay Area, shipping is considerably cheaper if you live on the West Coast than across the country. Wherever you live, though, it’s worth it.)

Each cheese is beautifully packaged, and they traveled very well.

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We first sampled the High Sierra Rustic Alpine, described as a “semi-hard, nutty round with sweet overtones and a creamy buttery finish.” It’s all of these things, and delicious. It is supposed to melt well, too, as this cheese “can also be used for fondue or mixed in a risotto.” But it is also terrific on crackers or a nice baguette.

Next we sampled the Aged English Smoked Farmhouse, which closely resembles smoked gouda — not quite as firm, but every bit as yummy. And, finally, the Aged English Sharp Farmhouse, pictured below, is a bit firmer and sharper, and while it’s great spread on crackers and bread, this one would be wonderful sliced thin for sandwiches.

cheeseThe cheeses from Miyoko’s range in price from $10 to $12 for each 6-oz box, plus shipping, and they have a 60-day shelf life. (And some of the cheeses, like the sharp farmhouse, will continue to age and ripen in the fridge, deepening in flavor and texture.)

Check out Miyoko’s Kitchen for more info on these cheeses, and many more (next on our list: all of the double-cream cheeses, and the Country Style Herbes de Provence). Of course, all of these plant-based cheeses are vegan, organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO. If you see something you want to try, order it fast, before it sells out; featured cheeses will change periodically.

Also: check out the Miyoko’s Kitchen blog for recipes and news, and for the adventurous: make them yourself with Miyoko Schinner’s book, Artisan Vegan Cheese.

A sampling of artisan vegan cheeses

For a long time, I’ve been waiting to get my hands on a selection of artisan vegan cheeses, and I am happy to report that based on my recent sampling of four cheeses, vegans (and anyone who loves cheese but doesn’t care for animal cruelty and high cholesterol) have a lot to look forward to.

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I began with Kite Hill‘s truffle, dill, and chive soft cheese, which has wonderful flavors (especially if you love dill) and a great texture; if not precisely cheese-like, it comes extremely close.

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Next I sampled Treeline‘s herb and garlic French-style cheese, which is far “cheesier,” i.e.,  even omnivores would find it indistinguishable from dairy cheese. It is soft, spreadable, and incredibly flavorful — absolutely spectacular. It was with great restraint that I didn’t finish the entire package at once. (After all, I had two more cheeses to sample…)

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Next up was Parmela‘s creamy black pepper cheese, which I found a little plain compared to the others — but it nonetheless had a lovely flavor and a wonderful consistency. Parmela also has other nut cheeses that I can’t wait to try — and Parmela makes what I have found to be the very best vegan parmesan cheese out there.

Finally: the brie.

Many vegetarians are slow to become vegans due to a love of cheese (and, until recently, a lack of good cheese substitutes). Now, there’s absolutely no excuse — vegans can find cheese replacements for any type of cheese they may think they’ll miss, including brie.

Kite Hill’s soft ripened cheese is the brie every vegan has been looking for.

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This almond-based cheese is soft, creamy, buttery, and has the sharp, ripened flavor of real brie — as well as the texture. I admit that, as a former brie lover, I was skeptical…but I was not disappointed. On the contrary, I was quite ecstatic.

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I hope you’re able to try out these delicious products and help support the companies that make them; you’ll be glad you did!

And, if you’re adventurous, you can also make your own artisan cheese; check out Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese, which has recipes for myriad types of cheeses and cheese dishes, of varying complexity.

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