Monday, December 28, 2009
Another Casein Free, Soy Free, Gluten Free Cheese (Daiya!)
I didn't think it would ever happen! There is a mozzarella style cheese that we can eat! I was resigned to a lifetime of no cheese on our pizza (which tastes just fine, but looks a little funny). There is now another vegan cheese out there besides Galaxy's Vegan Rice Cheese that is safe for those of us who need to avoid casein, soy, gluten, and corn (and it happens to be rice free too). I am over the moon about this!
So what started my search for another cheese was this: in October, our local Whole Foods had only 4 packages of the Galaxy Rice Vegan cheese left in stock. I snapped up all four packages because my kids love this stuff and I was afraid there was some snafu in the ordering process. In effect, there was, but I had to find that out by myself - even after asking the Customer Service Desk people and leaving my phone number and a plea for mercy to have them tell me where the cheese had gone, nobody ever got back to me and the cheese was never re-stocked. I'm still miffed about this. Some customer service, eh?
So after two months of pestering Whole Foods to give up the information I was seeking (with no luck!), I went looking for Galaxy retailers online. All the cheese was out of stock...some sort of re-packaging/production issue. Panicked, I started searching for an alternative. I found some Edward and Son's Chreese at another local store. I bought it because The Bon Bon Gazette had given it a good review. It had a very interesting "this tastes strangely yeasty with a cheesy afterthought", which wasn't bad. But Anna hated it and it gave me heartburn, so that was not an option for us.
Back to the drawing board, I ran across other bloggers raving about Daiya Vegan Cheese, which can be found in some pizza joints. Daiya only sells to food service for now (although they will retail their cheese to us little people in the spring!). But I had to have some. I was so desperate that I ended up ordering the Italian style flavor from Vegan Essentials, a whole 5 pound block that cost me $50 after shipping! Although I have to say, Vegan Essentials rocks, they were helpful and polite and gave me the best price on 2-day shipping - I would order from them again in a heartbeat. I was a little nervous ordering that much cheese we've never tried. A friend had tried the Daiya on a pizza at a restaurant and said it tasted terrible. But I took a chance because 1) she can still eat cheese and we can't so there's a taste preferential there and 2) the restaurant likely served pre-shredded cheese and what I was reading online was the pre-shredded stuff didn't melt as well as the block you shred yourself.
The cheese came in the mail (with a newly-redone package of Galaxy Vegan Rice cheese which Vegan Essentials had but Whole Foods did not!). I ripped open the Daiya and...guess what?! It tastes like cheese! It's so great! It has the right saltiness, the right color, the right taste, which is mild with a hint of parmesan. Better yet, it melts beautifully, just like real cheese, and it stays melted! Galaxy's Rice Vegan cheese melts but then firms up immediately, which is fine for sandwiches. But Daiya's cheese stays melted which is fabulous for quesadillas and pizza and cheese sauce! Even DH and casein-chugging friends thought it tasted good. It even freezes and thaws with no problems. I'm so happy!
Here's the kicker - Megan likes the cheese on sandwiches and pizza. I love it any way I can have it. Anna can't stand it, and it's not a taste thing, it's a texture thing. She is so far removed from the memory of real cheese that she just can't handle the difference between Galaxy and Daiya. I hope that over time she'll get used to the awesome meltiness that is Daiya, but for now Megan and I have it all to ourselves.
And oh yeah, that Galaxy Vegan Rice cheese? I finally found it at our local Whole Foods yesterday. There were only 8 packages on the shelf. I snapped them all up, for Anna's sake. And I don't feel bad about that one bit.