Hello There & Happy Weekend! Well, Thanksgiving happened, & now the official holiday frenzy begins! For all of you hitting the the mall this weekend, good luck! After 10 years in the retail business & no choice but to stand on the front lines of the madness, I avoid the mall at all costs most of the time, but especially THIS weekend. Deal Schmeal! If you do want to get some holiday shopping done, I encourage you to shop locally instead & support hardworking artisans! Speaking of artisan, I am so excited to be bringing you a review of two of the ” whole food, plant-based, handcrafted, artisanal, vegan cultured nut products ” from Miyoko’s Kitchen!
Miyoko’s Creamery Products were created by Miyoko Schinner, whose passion to recreate the range of flavors & textures she had once enjoyed from dairy cheeses before becoming vegan. Years of experimentation culminated in the release of her best-selling book, Artisan Vegan Cheese, which she hoped would inspire others to make their own. Despite the success of the book, people frequently requested that she simply make & sell them. With the help of her passionate business partner, Lisa Shanower, the two embarked on their cheese journey to create Miyoko’s Kitchen.
I was lucky enough to receive the “Harvest Collection” as generous gift from Miyoko to share & enjoy with family & friends this holiday season. I must admit that it was very hard not to sneak away quietly with armfuls of crackers, baguette, grapes, & wine to pair with this delicious mix of cultured nut “cheeses” & indulge my way into a food coma all by myself, because…well…come on…do I really need to explain? But sharing is caring, & it really is no fun to eat & drink alone. Besides, as a plant-based ambassador, it is my duty to bring this product to the masses & share with those who still believe that “Real California Cheese Comes from Happy Cows.” I beg to differ & stand solidly in saying that “real cheese” need not come from cows, goats, sheep or any other animal. I can also guarantee with absolute certainty that these animals are far from “happy.” But not so fast some might say! For years I’ve been throwing around the term “vegan cheese” like it was no big thing & having no idea that I was playing with fire, until I discovered a little something on Miyoko’s website ~
“All food products are required by law to have an identifier, a word that describes what the product is, such as tea, bread, crackers, or – well, cheese. Because our product isn’t made from dairy, in the state of California, we can’t call it cheese. Years ago, soy milk manufacturers faced a similar situation, but eventually won a legal battle to use the word milk. As a small company just hitting the ground, we aren’t quite prepared to take on the state or federal governments, so we’ve decided simply to go with the flow, call our creations cultured nut products, & have fun with it!”
Say What? This is nonsense! Just like we did with “milk, meat, & butter” it’s time to take back the term! Like it or not, California, vegan CHEESE is here to stay, so get used to it! Let’s move beyond labels my compassionate friends, & move over dairy-based cheese! Why contribute to the suffering of animals when a rich, savory & satisfying plant-based & cruelty-free cheese is just waiting to be devoured? Not to mention, dairy cheese really isn’t that great for our health either!
The Harvest Collection includes 5 seasonal & luxurious plant-based cheeses that are perfect for the holiday season ~ Fresh Loire Valley in a Fig Leaf , French Style Winter Truffle, High Sierra Rustic Alpine , Classic Double Cream Chive, Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic. The first flavor I sampled was the “Winter Truffle,” as it had the nearest expiration date. I had a few close girlfriends over for some wine & hors d’oeuvres & excitedly presented this cheese, but unfortunately it had already begun to “turn” ~ it was a bit sour & funky. I was bummed, but hopeful for the remaining cheeses that had much longer (refrigerated) shelf lives. So take note, if you order these cheeses & don’t plan to serve & devour all at once make sure you check the dates!
Since Thanksgiving was just around the bend, I was saved a few for my holiday vegan cheese plate & decided that the Rustic Alpine & Fresh Loire Valley would be a nice combination to serve with grapes, fruit & seed crackers, dried apricots, olives & marcona almonds. The “Fresh Loire Valley in a Fig Leaf” is a gorgeous soft, fresh, aromatic wheel enveloped in organic wine-soaked fig leaves, & is perfect with fruit & crackers. The “High Sierra Rustic Alpine” is a semi-hard wheel with nutty, sweet overtones & buttery finish, which also pairs beautifully with fruit, or can be used for fondue or risotto. I thought the combination of a soft, mild cheese & a sharp, smoky cheese would be a beautiful & festive for the holiday. Both are made with a mix of organic cashews, filtered water, organic chickpea miso, sea salt, nutritional yeast, & cultures. Simple ingredients, intense flavors!
I usually make my own cashew “goat” cheese log which has become a huge hit & annual request (even from the omnis in my family), but it was nice to to not have to labor over the 3 day processes & simply unwrap & serve!
The packaging & presentation is so beautiful! It really makes you feel like you are about to indulge in something very special ~ which it certainly is! These cheeses are outstanding! Uniquely flavorful, festive, delicious & indulgent….sans cruelty!
As soon as I unwrapped the cheeses & arranged them on the cheese plate, my mostly omnivore family began to hover, asking many questions, reading the ingredients on the box, & trying to sneak a nibble while I lovingly slapped their hands away so I could shoot a few photographs! Years ago when I became plant-based & began bringing vegan dishes & eschewing dairy products, I was met with sighs, eye rolls, & resistance. Yet over the years, my has come to expect that I will bring something new & interesting to try, & many of them look forward to making new discoveries. This year, I marveled in their curiosity & excitement over this vegan cheese plate! I suppose I’ve primed them all with my winning vegan “goat cheese” log, & the thought of “vegan” cheese is no longer a strange & alien notion. Proudly displayed next to the dairy-based cheese board, these plant-based beauties really held their own! The crowd favorite was the mild & creamy “Fresh Loire Valley” & it was wonderful spread over fig & rosemary crackers.
As for the rest of my Thanksgiving…not too shabby after all! As I said, over the years my family has become more & more accommodating & for that I am grateful! I enjoyed a deliciously full plate of vegan stuffing, sweet potatoes, caesar salad, shaved brussels sprout salad, & green beans with dried cherries & walnuts. And of course delicious wine, & CHEESE!
So, stay tuned for part II & maybe III of my Miyoko’s Kitchen enjoyment. I have some smoky & savory Rustic Alpine leftover & have been enjoying the leftovers on sliced apples with crackers.
Such a lovely combination! I am also in the process of dreaming up a fall risotto recipe with this cheese as the star, oooh, or maybe grilled cheese & apple panini? I also still have full wheels of the Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic (pasta anyone?) & Classic Double Cream Chive (mmmm, creamy, chive-y mashed potatoes?) still yet to enjoy. I can’t wait!
And if you haven’t yet, you must try these delicious handcrafted, artisanal, whole-food, plant based, vegan cheeses for yourselves! Head over to Miyoko’s Kitchen & get your cheese party on. I will be ordering more for Christmas for sure. If you live in Northern California, then you are really in luck! Here is a list of retailers that currently carry Miyoko’s Creamery Products! Let’s get that list growing!
Editor’s Note: The product(s) featured in this post were provided by a representative of the company named in this post for editorial consideration. All reviews are 100% honest.