Food Reviews: Fake Cheese 2

Did the last series of fake cheese reviews leave you with an insatiable hunger for more non-dairy options which don’t suck too bad? Are you a dairy-eater who feels that your cheese is too delicious, varied, and melty, and you’d like to discover some options which are worse in all three respects? Do you feel like you’re just not spending enough money on groceries, and would like ways to ensure your shopping trips are more frustrating and expensive? Read on, because it’s fake cheese review time again here at TTH.

Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds

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4
The chief problem with Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds, other than (like all fake cheese) they have a stupid name, is that they’re difficult to come by. So far I’ve only been able to find them at Whole Foods, which is a little out of the way. But if I pause and reflect that I’m incredibly lucky to live somewhere that offers enough non-dairy food choices to blog about on the regular, life can’t be that bad.

We sought out these Daiya Shreds specifically because we wanted to make that most enchanting of dairy-corrupted foods: Pizza. Josh has been great about making me cheeseless pizzas when we prepare them at home, but wouldn’t the world be that much nicer if we could pretend I’m not a casein-crippled social outcast eating deviant pizzas? Yes, yes it would. Thus, Daiya Shreds, which sounds like the first metal album released by an unvaccinated child after she drops out of a Beverly Hills high school.

The texture of the Daiya Shreds is not very similar to real cheese. They’re less flexible, and break rather than bend. In my opinion, they don’t taste very good if you eat them “raw” out of the bag. However, I lack the sophisticated palate of an 8 year old, and Josh’s daughter thought the shreds were just fine as is (then again, she also said that orange sherbet with peppermint patty bits mixed in was “pretty good,” so we’ll take her opinion with a grain of salt).

Josh and I were both amazed at how well the Daiya melted. Melting seems to be a troublesome texture for fake cheese, but our mini English muffin pizzas looked reassuringly cheesy when we took them out of the oven. Just like real cheesy pizza, melty Daiya Shreds will burn your face off if you try to eat them while your pizza is still the temperature of the Earth’s molten core. It doesn’t string and stretch like real mozzarella cheese does, but you can’t have everything. I was pleased and surprised to discover that the Daiya Shreds had an acceptably cheeselike taste, played nice with our pizza toppings, and both the kids ate it without complaint.

Sounds pretty good, right? It is, and as far as fake cheese goes, I’m more impressed with the Daiya Shreds than I have been with any products since the Tofutti fake cream cheese. The only problem is that I feel you need to use a smaller amount of Daiya than you would if you were using actual shredded cheese. A couple bites into tiny English muffin pizza #2, I started feeling the ‘cheese’ was cloying and overwhelming, and I wished there was less of it. Eventually the molten fake cheese goo was overpowering, sticky and liquid like nacho cheese from a pump, and my mini pizza mission had to be aborted.

Despite being too much of a good thing when used generously, Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds were a nice treat in an otherwise cheeseless dish. I would definitely buy them again next time I wander into Whole Foods, and I’d like to try them out in other Italian food that I won’t be the one cooking. Well deserving of 4 out of 5 Tiny Houses.

 

Tofutti American Cheese Flavored Slices

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3

 

 

This cheese is plasticky and tasteless, with an eerily smooth texture clearly derived from petroleum products. Its flavor is the oily whisper of something which may once have been cheddar, and the best thing about it is peeling the rubbery slices out of their little plastic wrapping sleeves.

Which is to say, it’s exactly like normal American cheese.

I don’t particularly like American cheese, so it speaks to my non-dairy desperation that I bought this regardless. This is what they had at the Ralph’s in Oxnard, and because my options are limited when it comes to fake cheese, I threw Tofutti American Cheese Flavored Slices into the cart Josh was patiently pushing around the store for me. I was also inspired by the success of Tofutti’s Better Than Cream Cheese spread, and decided to give the brand another shot.

Like the Daiya shreds, this stuff actually melts reasonably well, to a point. I’ve noticed that the cheeselike illusion of a Tofutti Slice starts to fall apart if you get it too hot, at which point the stuff bubbles, liquifies, and turns clear, returning to its base elements of vegetable oil and witchcraft. On a breakfast sandwich, while the Tofutti cheese does warm up and cling to the rest of the sandwich components reasonably well, I found the taste distracting. It’s just not real cheese, but again, if you’re a fan of that Velveeta, nacho-cheese, American cheese taste, maybe this product will hit the spot. On a delicious bison burger, the slice of Tofutti cheese added a creamy cheesiness to the burger just like American cheese would. But again, like the real stuff made of milkier fake ingredients, burgers are already rich enough most of the time, and how much is the cheese really adding to the overall burger experience to begin with?

Up until writing this entry, I was not brave enough to try making a grilled cheese sandwich with this stuff, but never let it be said that I am unwilling to suffer for my craft. And also, I’ve got to use this cheese up somehow, because the package came with 12 slices. I can’t rely on Josh to help me, as he’s still trudging through using up the treacherous Go Veggie casein cheese, enlisting his functional, dairy-proof metabolism in the effort not to waste food. What a champ.

So my Tofutti American Cheese Flavored Slices Grilled Cheese Sandwich came out okay. I think I had the heat too high, which is the way I cook everything and why Josh does not allow me to approach the stove without the supervision of a responsible adult. The rate at which the cheese melted was out of sync with the rate at which the bread toasted, so chunks of fake cheese fell off the edge of the sandwich (rather than dripping down) and hit the pan. After hitting the pan, the cheese bits began to hiss and sputter and jump around like they were possessed by the souls of the damned, and I was splattered with demon cheese oil while the Tofutti angrily reverted to, like I said earlier, vegetable oil and witchcraft. I tried to flip the sandwich over in a hurry, but even though the edges of the cheese had gone nuclear, the middle was still cold and had failed to adhere to the bread. Lacking structural integrity, the whole grilled cheese fell apart in the pan, spitting and sputtering all the more furiously, while I panicked and tried to stick it back together by burning my fingers and upsetting the dogs. Jet hovered around anxiously, watching me with pricked ears and an uncertain tail wag, while Indy scurried back and forth and barked. Indy firmly believes that barking as loudly and spastically as possible is the correct remedy for all forms of chaos.

Ultimately the sandwich was mostly toasty on the outside but not melted well in the fake cheese department. Some parts were too hot and oily, other parts were not melted enough, suffering an ambivalent, greasy, soft-but-not-melted limbo texture. If you’re trying this at home, be patient with the temperature and bring it up from low heat, and it will probably come out better. That’s basically my advice for all recipes and cooking tips: Don’t be me.

So anyway, 3 out of 5 Tiny Houses for the Tofutti American Cheese, because it kind of sucks, but so does the food it’s trying to duplicate. They get points for effort and accuracy.

 

Next time: Can Meg and Josh find some Artisanal Nut Milk Based Cheese? Can they say “nut milk” without snickering?

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