Some thoughts on Vegan Cheese:
How can it be cheese if it’s vegan? By definition cheese is a milk product… A lot of my friends (mostly non-vegans) have pointed out that although they enjoy vegan cheeses, they don’t like the fact that these products are “parading” as something they are not. I understand this sentiment, but I argue that we ultimately live in a “meat-centric” world and need to name food items after their animal based brother for people to really understand. For example soy milk is really a soy beverage but we understand it much better with the name milk. I just prefaced with this because vegan cheese is not real cheese and it really will never be. I’m not a strict vegan so I do eat cheese as well. This Zengarry vegan cheese is super delicious BUT if you are too hung up on wanting it to taste exactly like the REAL thing then you may be disappointed. Don’t get fixated on name, think of it more like a stand alone product – that’s my two cents on vegan cheese.
First-off, I love these products. I went to the Montreal Vegan Festival back in September and went around sampling the various exhibitors. I stopped at Zengarry and was practically salivating over their vegan nut cheeses. I picked up a cumin gruyere and my roommate grabbed the sun-dried tomato. I just want to mention that my roommate is from France which may seem irrelevant but you know how the French love their cheese, right? I’ll admit stereotyping is bad in most cases but my non-vegan French roomie buying the cheese was a auto seal of approval to me. It’s kind of like when you go to a Chinese restaurant and see Chinese people sitting inside, you know? You assume it’s good…no? C’mon everyone does that.
Anyways, the cheeses were about 8 – 10 $ each. It isn’t cheap but it’s hand made, organic and in most cases the main ingredient is cashews which are an expensive nut.
Coincidentally about a week after the Vegan Festival, I was contacted by Zengarry to try some samples for MTL VEG. Obviously I was over the moon for these free goodies that I already love!
They gave me three products and I had the fourth remaining from the festival. The products lasted for about 2 weeks and there were lots so I invited friends over to get their remarks, here is what I’ve concluded:
1 – Raw Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Cashew Cheese
This product is absolutely delicious and fairly addictive. Everyone loved this one and although I had tons of it from the week before, I did not get sick of it. Great with crackers, baguette, on a sandwich, added to a pasta dish and more. Yum, yum, yum!
2 – Gruyere with Cumin Seed
This cheese was probably my second or third favourite but it was not as much of a crowd pleaser. Cumin is not everyone’s cup of tea and the coconut oil in the cheese did not go down so well with everyone. Coconut and cumin are both distinct flavours which were quite subtle in the cheese but not subtle enough for everyone. If you like cumin, you’ll love it. If not, maybe steer clear.
3 – Raw Garlic and Fine Herb Cashew Cheese
In terms of crowd pleasers, this one take second place. It is reminiscent of a boursin with the garlic and herb aromas. It is quite good when added to pasta for a creamy texture, in a wrap, salad dressing or spread over a baguette.
4- Holiday Brie
This lavish nut cheese with pistachios and cranberry is a good for gatherings. It makes a lot of sense to grab one of these for the holidays but it would a little less practical for adding to day to day dishes. I could see it added to a salad but other than that, I see this more as a stand alone product to enjoy with cracker or bread. I enjoyed all the Zengarry cheeses but the brie was probably my least favourite over all.
In conclusion, try these cheeses. They really are quite good, I promise. Start with the Sun Dried Tomato and Basil or Garlic and Fine Herb and take it from there. You can find them at a number of health food stores in Montreal including one of my go-to shops: Bio-Terre.
Here are the places that sell them: http://www.zengarry.com/find-us.html
Well that’s all for now, have a lovely weekly y’all!