I recently attended the first ever Mad City Vegan Fest in Madison, WI. I was pleasantly surprised to see such a huge turnout. The room with vendors and exhibitors was jam packed. Attendees enjoyed a variety of free samples from mock meats to vegan chocolates (chocolate cashew crunch had me at chocolate). I was even fond of a few alternative cheeses I sampled, which is rare. The thought of vegan cheeses leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
When I first became vegetarian in 2008, I experimented with a lot of vegan foods. I thought to myself, “if I can go vegetarian, why not vegan?” Then, I tried the fake cheeses. Soy, rice, almond…you name it, I ate it. I was absolutely repulsed by a majority of them. The brands that I did like ended up containing casein which is a protein derived from milk. After moving to Minneapolis I tried Daiya for my first time. I wasn’t too impressed. Although now I find it down right delicious. A part of me still longs for the days of cheese and crackers. One of the exhibitors at the Veg Fest was selling an assortment of vegan cheeses. I asked a little about it like does it melt? The woman said it didn’t melt very well but it did taste great paired with crackers. She said that some of her customers like to serve it at wine parties. I was almost sold. I asked if she had any samples for me to try and she said no, but she promised I wouldn’t regret the purchase. I put my $5 on the table and said I’d give it a whirl.
I must say, I am really loving this cheese! While the texture is quite different, the taste is outstanding. I bought the smoked gouda, but I wish I would have grabbed a few others to try out as well. According to the website, ingredients of the gouda consist of: purified water, agar, organic cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, tahini, Dijon mustard, roasted red peppers, liquid smoke, sea salt, and spices. So simple and yet so scrumptious!
If any of you are interested, I strongly suggest checking out their site, Ste Martaen.