Wednesday, February 18, 2015
If I had to admit I missed anything about cow cheese, it might be the whole cheese and crackers thing. I used to love a good cheese curd or a smooth and rich spread over a Triscuit. I even enjoyed a stick of string cheese now and then.
I've made delicious cashew cheese spread here at home that has made me exceptionally happy and I even bought Miyoko's Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook, but I have to admit... I don't have the patience to do it. It takes planning and aging and that weird rejuvelac stuff. I don't have the desire or motivation to make rejuvelac so that is why I haven't tried making the cheeses.
I had first heard about Miyoko's plans to bring her cashew based 'cultured nut product' to retail a good year ago thru Miyoko's Kitchen. She isn't allowed to call it cheese in California but I'm going to call it cheese in this blog post because that is what it is to me.
I watched as she set up her manufacturing facility and warehouse, watched her tease the packaging and names for the products and I even watched her roll it out.. from debuting at various food conventions and even to her actual online sales launch. I sat and watched as bloggers were given freebies for review and I waited to see what everyone thought of it. I started hearing the rumblings from people that had been able to try it and I searched out actual blogger reviews.
From the moment it became available online I longed for it but the shipping costs were holding me back out of principal. I hate paying for shipping. The 2 day Fed Ex shipping runs from $9 to $30 depending on where you live and how many boxes you buy. I am, of couse, in the zone as far away as possible from California. I knew that the odds of this product every making it to stores in my midwest area, were slim to none. I might eventually see it come to Whole Foods but that is still a one hour drive (each way) away from me and you can't guarantee the product will be there when you decide to go.
However ... one day, Miyoko sent out an email with a code for $10 off and that is what finally spurred me on to place an order. (she's also done free shipping so watch out for those deals!)
I was able to justify paying $5 shipping vs $15 for the 4 pack I had chosen. We'd have to pay the gas prices to drive an hour and back if Whole Foods ever did get it around here so it seemed like it made sense to just order it.
When I placed my first order, Miyoko's Kitchen had packages of 3 or more of the cheeses pre-packed but now they have a mix & match procedure so you can try the flavors you want to rather than buy in a pre-packed grouping.
Right now, you can order a minimum of 3 boxes to a maximum of 10 boxes in an order. If they'd open it up to be as many boxes as you wanted, it might help those of us in Zone 3 because then we can order in bulk and share the shipping costs. We can do 10 boxes for ourselves but I often split the order with a friend. The cheese does freeze well according to the website but we don't keep it around along enough to do that!
Overall .. these are amazing. There is no one that would ever know these were made from cashews. If I didn't have the package in front of me and I knew for a fact it was vegan. I'd think someone was flat out lying to me. It's THAT good. There is no weird texture or aftertaste. These are so good that I won't even cook with them.. I want to eat them in their full, straight on glory .. simply on a cracker.
When I first saw the size of these, I was a little disappointed thinking they wouldn't last long but I was completely wrong... one wheel lasts a decent amount of time. I've been having cheese and crackers just about every day. I slice off about a half ounce wedge of three flavors at a time as a snack with Triscuits and it takes awhile to work thru a wheel and that is with my husband enjoying some a few times a week as well.
I've been able to try almost all of the flavors available right now so here are my opinions:
Double Creams Selections- These are a thick, rich cream cheese that you'd use on a bagel or a cracker. It's perfectly smooth and thick and amazing. They melt in your mouth.
Garlic Herb - This is probably my fave of the double creams. I love them all but if you forced me to choose one, I'd choose this. It has a nice balance of garlic and herbs. it's exactly like a fancy cream cheese. I like mine on Triscuits. I did try it on a bagel but I feel like you need to use too much in that capacity and it's too good for a bagel. The husband liked this one a lot. It was limited edition.
Sun Dried Tomato Garlic - this has a lovely tomato-y vibe to it.. almost like a pizza cream cheese.
Chive - this is a nice classic cream cheese flavor. Perfect.
French Style Winter Truffle - This one was a bit weird for me. I love truffle flavor but I didn't get that from this. It's a soft cheese with minced mushrooms. This didn't work for me on a cracker. I just didn't like the texture. The flavor was nice but it was not a cheese I'd use for crackers so I had to find a new use for it. I used half a wheel to make a delicious cheesy alfredo type sauce to use over linguine. I melted it with some soy milk and it was delicious and very fancy. I wouldn't buy this again simply because for me, it makes a pricey mac & cheese.
Spring Thyme - This was a special limited edition flavor that is similar to the Provence one. It has dried thyme on it. It's a very hard cheese so I wasn't a huge fan since I prefer to spread it on crackers. It has a stronger flavor.
High Sierra Rustic Alpine - this is a mild, creamy cheese. A little drier than the double cream type but very spreadable. I like this one but I tell people it's the least exciting of the flavors. It's delicious but doesn't have a flavor that I can really put a lot of adjectives to. I'd buy it again tho.
Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash - This is one that I was both hesitant to try and intrigued to try. It seemed really weird to me but also like it could be incredible so I figured I needed to at least try it and hope one of us liked it enough to make sure it didn't go to waste! It is coated with black vegetable ash. I don't know what that means but I hoped it wasn't going to taste like an ashtray... that was the thought my brain had as I was wrapping my thoughts around trying it. Well, it's delicious... the ash gives it a tangy sort of bite. I really liked it and I've re-ordered it.
Aged English Sharp Farmhouse - This is the only one I wouldn't eat again. It's too sharp for me. It reminds me of the sharpness of blue cheese and I don't like that. The Farmhouse cheeses are drier so it isn't as spreadable unless you let it sit a bit to warm up.
Aged English Smoked Farmhouse - This is probably my favorite. It's the driest of the cheeses. It isn't super smooth. It flakes but you can still use it on a cracker. Sometimes it's creamier than other times. Sometimes it just takes a little extra strength to work on a cracker. It does grate but it's soft so it doesn't come out like parmesan but I've successfully grated it onto chili. It has a delightful smoky edge to it.. melts in your mouth like the rest tho. My husband likes this one too.