Product review: medium-spicy Nacheez! »
Great news, vegan cheese-lovers—Nacheez innovator Ilsa Hess has added a new flavor to her line of nacho cheese sauce! What was once only available in spicy or mild is now accessible in a medium spice level. I was generously sent a couple of jars to sample, one of which was simply heated up and poured atop tortilla chips immediately after I ripped the package open—delicious!
For the second jar I wanted to be a little more creative, as my first impulse was to eat it with a spoon over the sink. I’d been meaning to make the Nacheez banana empanadas for about a year, but to be real, it has sounded a little too eccentric for my taste.
I did make the empanadas, and though it is a funky combination of flavors, they’re actually really tasty! The sweetness of the bananas combined with the tang of the Nacheez is an eclectic harmony! Next time I think I’m gonna skip the work of shaping empanadas (okay fine, I really made calzones) and just make a pizza. That way the bananas, uncovered in the oven, will caramelize to their fullest potential (or at least until the pizza dough is nicely browned on the bottom).
Even if banana-Nacheez pizza isn’t your thing, you can enjoy medium Nacheez in a variety of different ways, like my personal fave—a chili cheese dog!
Kite Hill Cheese Is Here »
Meave reported on Kite Hill cheese rumors last month, and we’re back with an update. The rumors are a reality, and the fabled cheese has arrived OTS at Northern California Whole Foods.
We took to the streets to report on the new vegan product that has all the vegans (and omni food-lovers!) dropping their edible panties (and checkbooks!) for. Here’s our HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM:
I learned the following from the Whole Foods in Los Gatos cheese people:
1. Kite Hill has an exclusive contract with WFs and will only be available at Whole Food stores for a year — after that, the rest of the world can have at it.
2. It’s currently only at Los Altos, Palo Alto, and Oakland Whole Foods, but it’ll expand to either 9 or 11 more Northern California WFs “very soon”. They weren’t sure which stores, but they THINK Redwood City and Berkeley are in. Los Angeles folks can try the cheeses at Crossroads, Tal Ronnen’s new vegan restaurant on Melrose, and I think there’s a cheese shop opening up next door or inside the restaurant or something CONFIRM OR DENY PLZ.
3. As of last Friday, all No Cal WF stores were sold out, but the’re supposed to get shipments this week. If you call in advance, make sure the employees look in the dairy case, and not with the vegan cheese!
OK, so what I tried… descriptions from Kite Hill’s FB page:
Costanoa, a semi soft dusted with a piquant blend of paprika and fennel pollen; and White Alder, a soft ripened cheese with a delicate white rind, pungent aroma and velvety texture.
There’s one more flavor — Casuccio, a soft fresh with a supple, silky texture — but they didn’t have it at Whole Foods.
The people working the cheese section at Whole Foods were crazy about both cheeses, but particularly loved the White Alder. They were all genuinely excited about it, and impressed by it.
I sampled it with a professional food critic (an omnivore!) and she thought it was good, if a bit salty. My vegetarian sister liked it a lot, but said it didn’t “trick her” into thinking it was cheese. She mentioned that it was crumbly like tofu, and not creamy like cheese — which was also my experience eating it. However, if the critic or my sister didn’t know it was vegan to begin with, who knows if they would’ve been able to tell.
For my part, I thought it was good. Very good, especially when I ate it as instructed on the Kite Hill FB “info” page.
Costanoa is a semi-soft cheese encrusted with a piquant crust of paprika and fennel pollen. Its texture is smooth and compact, making this cheese excellent for slicing and serving on crackers or fresh baguette rounds. We love to offset Costanoa’s buttery, earthy, peppery flavors with a pairing of fresh or caramelized figs.
Suggested wine pairing: A crisp, zesty dry white wine with citrus or floral notes.
White Alder is a soft ripened velvety cheese with a white, fluffy rind. It has a tangy mushroomy flavor profile with a rich, silky texture and pungent aromatics. This cheese is best served straight from the refrigerator and pairs well with white grapes.
Suggested wine pairing: A dry white wine such as a Chardonnay with fruit or citrus notes or even Champagne.
I did think both flavors were a little salty, but mainly delicious. I preferred the White Alder because the rind was extra fun and reminded me of brie; I would be excited to eat this as part of a cheese plate at a fancy restaurant.
That said, I’m not sure if it’s as revolutionary as all that, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing — the more good vegan cheeses on the market, the better. Plus, the fact that the Whole Foods cheese people were SO excited about it, got me excited, too. Because if they say it tastes like cheese, it must taste (at least kinda) like cheese, right? And if the rich people are willing to switch from their cow cheese to this vegan cheese, that’s a good thing. And, uh, it’s gonna have to be rich people because this shiz is NOT cheap: White Alder is $14.99, Costonoa was $13.99 for six ounces.
So, what’s up? Have any of you tried it? What did you think??
From San Francisco Magazine, here’s the list of Whole Foods the cheeses will be available at (and when!):
The brand will debut today (March 25) in Whole Foods Los Altos and Palo Alto; Tuesday in Oakland, Berkeley, Noe Valley, Franklin, and Potrero Hill; Wednesday in Mill Valley, San Rafael, and Sebastopol; and Thursday in San Jose, Cupertino, and Capitola. The cheeses are all exclusive to the Bay Area until they go national later this summer.
Super Vegan tweets that Crossroads is out of Kite HIll and won’t have it back for “awhile”. DEMAND IS HIGH, MY FRIENDS.
Chambers Lane pâté review! (amazing new vegan cheese alert!) »
Since Laura and I moved to the East Bay, we’ve been unable to get to Rainbow Grocery as often as we used to. Last time we were there, we um, went a little overboard. We came away with four new cheeses and cheese spreads that we had never seen before. Of these, the Chambers Lane Truffled Cashew pâté was far and away the favorite, even above the much pricier Punk Rawk Labs cheese.
So when the people of Chambers Lane contacted us to see if we were interested in trying their other flavors, of course we said yes.
All together, there are three flavors. The first we had tried was Truffled Cashew. They also have Fig Balsamic Walnut Cashew and Rosemary Thyme Almond. These are also quite good.
The Fig Balsamic is sweet, tart, and rich-tasting, with hints of spice, it definitely has a wonderful complex flavor.
The Rosemary Thyme, on the other hand, is savory, but with a milder herbed taste. It’s almond-based, so it’s not quite as creamy as the other two, but is still pleasantly nutty.
But the first one we had tried probably still remains the favorite. With its rich, decadent truffle oil and creamy cashew texture, it really is something special. We started out by eating it on crackers like fancy folks, but then polite affectations went out the window, and we finished by sticking our fingers directly into the jar to get every last bit.
In addition to being available at Rainbow Grocery, you can also find Chambers Lane pâtés at Country Cheese Coffee Market and Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, Woodlands Market in Kentfield, and Draeger’s in Menlo Park, Danville, and San Mateo.
Let’s hope they get into even more stores soon, because this stuff is the GREATEST. Insanely delicious vegan cheese for all!
S.F. Bay Area: VEGAN AND WINE CHEESE PARTY! »
Chef Miyoko Schinner, the madwoman behind the genius new Artisan Vegan Cheese cook book, is throwing a delicious party to celebrate her own awesomeness! If I were her, I’d be doing the same damn thing because SHE IS AWESOME. She’s revolutionized vegan cheese, teaching us how to make mozzarella and a million other ridiculously tasty vegan cheeses. OH HOLY MOTHER! We’re all about vegan cheese, we’re all about Miyoko Schinner, and so, uh, yeah, we are gonna be at this party EATING ERRYTHING. ALL OF IT.
So uh, fight you for it? Like, with knives. Cheese knives, but still. Seriously, dairy cheese can suck my dong, this is where it is AT.
Saturday, Oct. 20, 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets cost $10, go get ‘em at Brown Paper Tickets.
You’ll enjoy a speech from Miyoko, sample her gourmet cheeses (sexy?), and sip on tasty organic wines. GIRL. It’s a vegan wine and cheese party! Let’s get at it and get into it and put our stuff all up in its stuff, it’s gonna be HOT.
Product Review: Regal Vegan’s Basilcotta! »
As I announced on Twitter last night, look what I came upon at Union Market last night! Basilcotta: Regal Vegan’s basil cashew ricotta-style spread. You know I’m obsessed with their Faux Gras so I had to buy this immediately.
My official verdict: very yummy! It’s not as amazing and addictive as the Faux Gras, but really, what is? “Basilcotta” is pretty much the perfect name—that’s what it tastes like: ricotta mixed with basil. I just ate it on bread and it was creamy and good. I would love to have it in some pasta shells! I will try to get it together to do that and let you know how it turns out. Maybe I can mail some to Jenny and make her do it for us!
It’s not on their site yet but hopefully it will be soon and then hopefully you’ll be able to order it like you can the Faux Gras. Does anyone on the west coast carry Regal Vegan? They need to!
I think I will actually have to get it together to try this one. I do love a cheese board! Then again, I could just use Punk Rawk Lab cheese. But then I wouldn’t have the satisfaction one gets from making fake cheese! I imagine it’s grand. And not unlike the satisfaction that comes from getting to the bus stop JUST as your bus pulls up. When I was little, my friend told me that means you did everything right all day.
It’s at-home tofu misozuke from Recipe Renovator! Laura found this and flipped, naturally, as she is all about tofu misozuke. She says, “If you can’t buy this delicious stuff, try making it yourself and feel like the artisanal kitchen wizard that you are! Because that that stuff is so tasty, it definitely involves the dark arts BURN WITCH BURN!”
Here’s my promise to you Vegansaurs: I’m totally gonna make this! And report back! Because I have no particular kitchen skills (just the worst at following recipes) except my TOTAL FEARLESSNESS. Let’s do this! We’ll be rolling in tofu misozuke by October. Guess my trick-or-treaters will be getting vegan cheese in their pillowcases this year!
Jeez louise! Olives for Dinner is killing it lately. And these vegan mozzarella, basil, and cherry tomato skewers certainly do not disappoint. How cute are they? Like, not even cute, more like “elegant.” These make me want to have a classy party! And be like, “la di da! I’m fancy!” Because, if you haven’t noticed, I’m hella fancy.
Product Review: Nutty Cow Vegan Ricotta! »
Now, I don’t know what’s on the market these days in terms of vegan ricotta, but it doesn’t matter. I just tried Nutty Cow’s ricotta, and it’s all that exists to me.
I hate to admit this, but I really wasn’t sure what to expect when Carla of Nutty Cow approached us to sample this product. Vegan cheeses are sometimes great, but most of the time, kind of weird. However, I could tell I was going to like their cheese when it arrived in the mail just by the packaging—the logo is so well done!
Being hungry and impatient, I opened one of the three containers immediately and ate it with crackers.
I realized then that this wasn’t just any vegan cheese product. It was special. And though it’s made with nuts, the texture is so soft and creamy! I knew I’d have to hold back on the remaining two packages and make something incredible.
Carla suggested I make lasagna, which is a dish I haven’t made in 10 years! I was like, “all right,” but really I was just going to lazily spread it over Whole Foods spinach Florentine raviolis. Then I got inspired to fill large pasta shells with the cheese and bake it with my winning combo of spinach, mushrooms, garlic and caramelized onions. Fate was on Carla’s side, as I couldn’t find the shells I wanted at the store. Lasagna it was gonna be.
Boy, am I glad I made lasagna.
Nutty Cow Ricotta made this lasagna. I should not have indulged in cheese and crackers earlier in the week so that I could have topped my dinner with the ricotta—or at least added another layer to the lasagna! Oh, well. The ricotta was so creamy and delicious! My roommates and I loved it, one of my roommates being a new vegetarian and the other an omnivore. It’s awesome when my omni friends and family like vegan products as much as I do.
“Where can I get this Nutty Cheese?” you ask? Carla says, “We are so excited to be launching next month (fingers crossed), September at the latest. It will be available at Veganessentials.com [a Vegansaurus supporter!] and several stores in the Midwest (so far). We will be announcing stores as it becomes ‘official’ in the next few weeks on our FB page and have been encouraging everyone to ‘like’ us or at least check in on the page to see where we will be available. Also, we will be at Expo East in September in Baltimore and hope to have wider distribution after the show.” So there you have it!
*I find that the attention to detail in the artwork usually means a superior (albeit sometimes more expensive) product. This is not always true, and graphic designers DO NOT COME CHEAP.
Product Review: Nutty Cow Nut Cheese »
Hey guys! There’s a new nut cheese on the market! Nutty Cow sent me samples of their nut cheeses and now I will tell you about them. My verdict: pretty good. It’s not Punk Rawk Labs but what is? Just Punk Rawk Labs. But this is more of a shmear than a cheese-cheese.
OK, I tried the garlic and herb on some wheat-thin-like crackers, it was very good. But I think it’s more of a bagel spread. Definitely a good cream cheese alternative! It’s nice and tangy like cream cheese should be. And the herbs are yum. And the herbs are plentiful, which I like.
I tried the maple pecan on an english muffin and it wasn’t sweet like I was expecting. Tangy, but maple-y and pecan-y. I recommend it on a bagel again. What kind of bagel would you put it on? I’m thinking cinnamon raisin!
Now, I haven’t had the chance to try the ricotta yet but they have some awesome looking recipes on their site. I’ve heard the Tofutti ricotta is not so good so I’m pretty curious about this one. If anyone gets a chance to try it, let me know what you think.
I couldn’t find the ingredients on their site so here they are because I know you guys like that kind of thing:
Non-GMO Soybeans, Filtered Water, Raw Cashews, Lemon Juice, Expeller-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grade A Maple Syrup, Fresh Basil, Salt, Natural Nigari (seawater extract), Cultured Dextrose (vegan)
Non-GMO Soybeans, Filtered Water, Onions, Raw Cashews, Sulfite-Free Balsamic Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Expeller-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grade A Maple Syrup, Salt, Garlic, Fresh Basil, Natural Nigari (seawater extract), Cultured Dextrose (vegan), Spices
Non-GMO Soybeans, Filtered Water, Raw Cashews, Grade A Maple Syrup, Raw Pecans, Lemon Juice, Expeller-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fresh Basil, Salt, Natural Nigari (seawater extract), Cultured Dextrose (vegan), Spices
Nutty Cow informs me that they will be making their way to stores in a month or so. You can follow them on Facebook to find out where!