Vegan cheese has come a long way in just the past few years. The tastes, textures, and high quality of this new generation of vegan cheeses make it really easy to give up dairy cheeses. But there is one brand in particular that has us truly dazzled...Miyoko's Kitchen.
We first tried artisan vegan cheese made from Miyoko's recipes at Choice Cafe in Kyoto, Japan in the summer of 2014. Ryan and I were both stunned at how good the cheeses were. It states right in the menu that the chefs there received intensive training from Miyoko Schinner herself. So we were thrilled to learn that she would soon be opening a vegan cheese company in the US! Soon after they were available online, we ordered the Harvest Collection (collections vary by season), which contained 5 wheels of cheese. It was hard to choose a favorite.
The Double Cream Chive is very rich, and is a very classic soft spreadable cheese. The chive flavor is subtle, but adds wonderful flavor. The Sundried Tomato Garlic is beautiful color, and has the distinctive tang of sundried tomatoes. The Fresh Loire Valley in a Fig Leaf probably has the most impressive presentation, as it is wrapped in red wine-cured fig leaves (which are totally edible...well, I guess we didn't really know for sure if the leaves were merely decorative, but we decided to eat them with the cheese and they were delicious!). The French Style Winter Truffle was the softest of the group, and had a very prominent earthy truffle flavor...truffle lovers will go crazy over this one. The High Sierra Rustic Alpine was the only semi-hard slice-able wheel (still had very pleasant creamy texture though), and it had a wonderfully gentle smoked aroma and slightly nutty flavor.
Miyoko Schinner actually published a cookbook entitled Artisan Vegan Cheese in 2012. I bought it of course, but have never made anything from it because some of the recipes seemed rather involved (a few taking not just hours, but days to properly prepare!). But now that I have a hint as to the possible return on my investment, I am inspired to set aside a weekend to try some of her recipes. The cookbook includes vegan recipes for various styles of cheese including mozzarella, cheddar, gruyère, brie, chèvre, ricotta, provolone, parmesan, gouda, emmentaler, and monterey jack. There are also vegan recipes for traditionally dairy-heavy dishes including Fettucine Alfredo, Spanakopita, Cauliflower Gratin, Tiramisu, Chocolate Cheesecake, Cheese Danishes, and much more.
If you're inclined to turn your nose up at vegan cheese but the last time you tried vegan cheese was before say, 2010, please give it another try. And if you want to be really impressed, start with Miyoko's Kitchen cheeses. All varieties are vegan, and many are soy-free and gluten-free. They are currently available online, and in select Whole Foods and other stores in northern Californina, USA, but hopefully will be available in stores nationwide.
Thanks for reading. Peace and love to all who live.