I have a confession to make..... I never liked cheese. I know, I know... this might be sacrilege to some of you as most people would consider themselves borderline addicted to cheese either in their current diets or in their non-vegan past diets. Perhaps you grew up on cheesey broccoli, or in college you looked forward to "Grilled Cheese Thursday." (Go Dukes!) But, I never did. I am not a hater, but cheese did not give me the that foodgasmic experience that so many people describe. I mean, in my former non-vegan days, I liked brie and goat cheese, but that was about it.
So, when the day came that I decided to go vegan, I straight up quit cheese cold cheddar. I mean what was there to leave behind? I was not married to cheese or in lust with cheese. I simply knew cheese as an acquaintance.
However, I respect all of you cheese addicts out there. I get it! We all have foods that, if left alone and to our own devises, we would bathe in. So, if you are vegan or veganish and are thinking to yourself, "Man, this whole vegan thing is perfect, except for the no cheese problem. " OR If you are vegan with family and friends that say, "I would go vegan, but I just couldn't give up cheese," then I bring you a miracle!
Miyoko"s Kitchen Cheeses or Cultured Nut Products are nothing short of incredible! I have tried three other flavors in the past, but the two I have shown here are the Double Cream Sun Dried Tomato Garlic and the Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash.
Before you run out to your local grocery store and search the refrigerator section for theses cheeses, know that they are not in stores nationwide. However, you can get the online through their website. These cheeses are not "Grilled Cheese Thursday" material though. This is for two reasons... One, they are not like Teeze or Daiya, because they are not super melty, and two, they are fine share-them-at-a-dinner-party cheeses.
To match the "dinner-party" status, they do not come cheap. Each wheel is about 10 dollars, which is not too pricey for a nice evening, but the shipping, while very speedy, is costly. However, if you have yet to try this brand, do not let the price tag, or in my case, the shipping tag, stop you. Save up around 45 dollars and invite a few friends over to try a few fancy cheeses.
In regards to ingredients, each cheese varies based on flavor, but they do start with a cashew base. Here are the two cheeses' ingredients below:
Double Cream Sun Dried Tomato Garlic- organic cashews, filtered water, organic coconut oil, organic dried tomatoes, organic chickpea miso (organic chickpeas, organic rice koji, sea salt, water, koji spores) sea salt, nutritional yeast, organic garlic powder, cultures
Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash- organic cashews, filtered water, organic chickpea miso (organic chickpeas, organic rice koji, sea salt, water, koji spores) sea salt, nutritional yeast, vegetable ash, cultures
So, all my cheese lovers, in case you just glanced over the ingredients, please take note of the cultures. Yes people, this is like real live cheese. Cultured bacteria and all! It goes through the same process your beloved brie, cheddar, and Camembert goes through.
If you are SUPER interested in how they take nuts and make cheese, the video below with Miyoko Schinner and Cobi Kim from Veggietorials, does an awesome job showing how Miyoko's Kitchen creates delicious vegan cheeses.
So, besides being an organic dairy alternative, I really appreciate Miyoko's efforts in providing "cheeses" that are similar to those that so many people crave and love. Now, you won't find their direct counterparts' names on the website, but by the pictures, names, and descriptions you will easily find one that fits your non-vegan tastes.
You are probably thinking, "Okay, I get it. They are wonderful, but what do they really taste like?"
This cheese is not an exact replica of the real thing. I would not say to eat a slice of gouda and then immediately a slice of Miyoko's cheese, because you will find differences. But, just because something is different (and really not very different at all) does not make it bad. In fact, in this case, I think it makes it better.
The Double Cream Sun Dried Tomato Garlic is super creamy, from the cashews and coconut oil, and super sun dried tomatoey. However, the garlic is not very prominent. The texture is like a firm cream cheese, which makes it easy to slice or spread on crackers. However, I could imagine this being amazing over pasta! Even though the color is reminiscent of cheddar, it does not taste like cheddar, it has it's own unique flavor. In fact, my brother-in-law aptly described it as "like a sun dried tomato foam." Not like foam from a wave, but more like molecular gastronomy (fancy food science).
Finally, the Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash. This cheese has the exotic appeal and is my husband's favorite. It comes completely covered in ash, so it looks odd when you out take it out of the paper, but it looks so beautiful when it is cut. The contrast of the creamy white against the black is stunning. This cheese has a much milder taste, which suits my goat cheese lovin' side. The cheese is salty, very creamy, and the ash gives it a very subtle burnt flavor. Miyoko's Kitchen recommends this with fruit, and I think cherries or pears would be amazing. However, I just had mine with a light and slightly fruity wine, which paired nicely as well.
If I am being perfectly honest, of all her cheeses I have tried so far, these two are not my favorite. I AM obsessed with the French Style Winter Truffle and the Classic Double Cream Chive. Granted, I haven't tried them all, but I can't wait to.
I love everything about this company. Their products, their mission, and the people behind it seem pretty dang awesome. However, the thing that I love most about Miyoko's Kitchen is what they make possible. They give the cheese addict a way to align their diet with their values and still scratch that real cultured cheese itch. Their cheeses allow vegans to host wine and cheese parties where no one would know the cheeses were vegan. Miyoko provides the opportunity for vegans to show their friends and families that there are delicious alternatives out there.
Miyoko's Kitchen cheese is not a sacrifice. In fact, a friend, who was a cheese enthusiast said, "You know, I think I like these cheeses better than real cheese, and I don't say that lightly, because I used to love cheese." That, my friends, is a success for all involved. So, if you haven't given Miyoko's cheese a try: do it. You just might want to switch from secretly wanting to bathe in cheese to bathing in cultured nut products!