The GFCF Review Experience: Vegan Gourmet Cheeses by Follow Your Heart
Posted Sep 10 2009 10:31pm
As mentioned in the last post, one of the highlights of our Seattle trip was a visit to Romio's in the Greenwood area, where we had a fantastic GFCF pizza and breadsticks. The owner was kind enough to tell me that he used soy cheese from Follow Your Heart, and that he thought it was available in Missoula.
He was right! I was delighted to find this cheese in our local Good Food store.
For those unfamiliar with the company, Follow Your Heart began as a vegetarian soup and sandwich shop in California in 1970. Over the years the soup and sandwich shop evolved into a natural foods store and cafe, located in Canoga Park, CA. The Vegetarian Resource Group voted Follow Your Heart as one of the 8 best vegetarian restaurants in California. Another fascinating fact is that all of their food processing is done at the facility they founded - Earth Island. What is fascinating is that the plant is 100% solar powered - possibly the first food plant completely powered by alternate energy sources.
Follow Your Heart is best known for Vegenaise, a completely vegan (egg free) mayonnaise. They also have lines of dressings and sauces as well as vegetarian "meats."
The cheeses are sold under the Vegan Gourmet product name. There are four varieties - cheddar, mozzarella, monterey jack, and nacho, as well as sour cream and cream cheese alternatives. At Good Foods, only the cheddar and the mozzzarella were available, so those were our review products of choice.
The Mozzarella for us was a no brainer since we had it in Seattle, and we tested it out on a pizza at home. It is a creamy cheese that does not really have much of an aftertaste at all, at least compared to other cheeses we tried, including Tofutti. It was easy to grate, which makes for a great pizza. It melts, but it does take a while, and I ended up having to place the pizza under the broiler for a few minutes to get it to melt completely. But the resulting pizza was absolutely delicious, and the kids ordered me to make a bigger pizza next time!
The pizza left the kids anxious to try the cheddar, and we gave them the opportunity in the form of cheese omelets. Like the mozzarella, the cheddar would melt, but it took a while. Unfortunately, that was the only good thing about the cheese. There was a distinct aftertaste associated with the cheese, and the kids lasted one bite before demanding new omelets with the mozzarella.
So, from our household, we went 1 for 2. Which is not such a bad thing. The mozzarella quite honestly is the best cheese alternative we have ever used, and it really expands our kitchen recipe repertoire. While relatively flavorless itself, it will definitely add a creamy texture to dishes. We may even try it as a ricotta substitute in lasagna!
If you find it, definitely give the mozzarella a try. And if you have tried the monterey jack or the nacho varieties, please let me know what you thought of them.