There’s been a dearth of fake cheese here at the TTH lately, on account of it’s inconvenient to come by. We do most of our shopping at the world’s only good Trader Joe’s store. Its location is a closely guarded secret for Josh and I to enjoy, while the rest of you suffer through cramped, suffocating Trader Joes, where the cheery, surf’s-up decor functions as an attempt to make you forget that you’re slogging through shopping hell in order to get your hands on an overpriced store brand and at least thirty items you want but will never find. While Trader Joe’s does sell non-dairy cheeses, I’ve been warned away from them by vegans who know everything, so I haven’t bothered to try. Whole Foods is obviously where you go if your local Trader Joe’s experience wasn’t hellish enough, and other than that, nowhere around here sold fake cheese. So no faux dairy for me lately, just a lot of crying about the unfairness and social permeation of milk products to friends and family members who are resignedly tired of hearing about it.
Until last night. Last night, we went to Vons.
Vons never used to sell non-dairy cheese. The best they could offer was the treacherous Go Veggie brand, which as pointed out in a previous review, tried to poison me with casein. So I never bothered to spend much time searching through their offerings, and instead I just resignedly wandered through the Yogurt And Butter Aisle (henceforth known as the YoButt) behind Josh, looking forlornly at all the delicious food I can’t eat while he told me for the 534th time that Greek yogurt is so good, and so good for you, and it’s bomb with fresh fruit on it, and it sucks that you can’t eat it… it just has so much protein though.
This time, however, the trip through the YoButt was different. This time, something phenomenal caught my eye.
I stopped dead in my tracks, and gasped.
Now, to Josh, gasping is a big deal. A gasp indicates serious surprise indicative of certain peril, and is appropriate for situations such as:
- I’ve been stabbed.
- I just discovered Fly interacting with the chickens.
- Somewhere, a baby is being attacked by demons.
As such, he was instantly on alert right there in the YoButt, ready to do battle with whatever misguided border collies and/or stabby villains should appear. Even though the only weapons readily at hand were a shopping cart and a lot of string cheese marketed to dieting women via skinny cows on the package, Josh was ready. “WHAT?” he asked, white-knuckled gripping the cart, ready to fight.
“They have so many different kinds of Daiya!” I beamed.
Josh frowned, and slowly made an effort to bring his adrenaline and cortisol down from the levels necessary to fight demons. “Oh.”
“SO MANY KINDS OF DAIYA,” I repeated, and proceeded to clutch at them with my greedy, grabby, milk-allergic hands. Daiya mozzarella shreds, the ok friend of pizza! Cheddar shreds! Slices in Swiss, Cheddar, and Provolone! Jalapeño Havarti Style Block! I gibbered excitedly about all of them while Josh kept a wary eye out for danger, and ultimately ended up choosing the Swiss Slices because I’d just been thinking recently that I miss a good old fashioned ham and swiss sandwich.
Daiya Swiss Style Slices
I wanted to love this fake cheese, I truly did. I bought ham for the express purpose of pairing with the Daiya Swiss Style Slices, and when I got home, I tore into the package immediately so I could roll it up with that ham like a lackluster 1960s dinner party appetizer. The first problem with this plan made itself evident very quickly: the cheese can’t roll. Flexibility and melty-ness are two attributes of cheese the non-dairy world continues to struggle with, and I’m sure food scientists at Daiya gnash their teeth together every day in confrontation of that very problem. I couldn’t roll the fake cheese, so I had to settle for folding it in half around the ham. I noticed while doing this that there was something else wrong with this Swiss: the holes. Or rather, the lack of holes. There were maybe three holes total in the whole slice, two of which looked like pin pricks and one which was slightly larger, feeble, the size of a pin head and present as though to say, look, there is a hole, it’s Swiss, we tried, stop complaining. Undeterred by the obvious warnings in both appearance and behavior, I gathered up my appetizer and took a big bite.
“How is it?” Josh asked, from where he stood by the stove making actual food with ingredients that don’t include witchcraft. I couldn’t answer him because my mouth was full of ham and Daiya Swiss Style Slice, but what I wanted to say was I’ve made a terrible mistake and Please send help.
The cold not-cheese was just awful. Still lacking any semblance of stretchiness, the slice broke apart in my mouth, and both the texture and the taste are what I imagine Play Doh would be like if you left it too long out of the tub and then tried to roll it up with ham. “Maybe it will be better when it’s warm,” I said, resealing the package to prevent the cheese from continuing to release its plasticky scent into our tiny home. “Maybe,” Josh agreed, charitably.
Because he’s a good man who is unafraid of demons and my dubious purchases, Josh made me a grilled ham and cheese sandwich today in order to continue the experiment. Unlike me, Josh is actually capable of making grilled fake cheese sandwiches wherein all the cheese is the same temperature and none of it is falling into the pan in oily blobs of woe, so the Daiya Swiss Style Slice fared much better than it would have under my preparation. Just like the Shreds, the slices are infinitely better hot than they are cold, and I will give Daiya some props for the fact that the Slice is pretty much just the amount of fake cheese you’d want for a sandwich – this being an important consideration because as as I found with the Shreds, too much of it makes your whole meal taste like regret. Hot, the Slice approximates cheese decently, and overall it wasn’t a bad sandwich.
However, it was not a Swiss sandwich, and at no point did the Slices remind me of the type of cheese I wanted to be reminded of. Once melted, it really wasn’t that different from the taste of the Mozzarella Shreds, which is disappointing since variety is one of the great pleasures of real cheese. I’ll finish off the package, but I won’t be doing so with a great deal of eagerness, and for this reason, the Slices merit only two out of five Tiny Houses. This cheese, like Facebook stalking that hottie who turned you down for Prom, only serves to remind you of what you can’t have.