I remember first reading about Kite Hill’s nut milk cheeses last summer and staring in awe at their soft-ripened White Alder. The rind looked exactly like brie, and based on people’s feedback thus far, it tasted similar too. Now, I’m far enough along in my vegan journey that cheese is usually not something I miss. Nutritional yeast fills that flavor void for me, but I also wasn’t cheese-obsessed pre-vegan. Frozen yogurt is more my kryptonite.
However, I was so impressed with the craftsmanship behind Kite Hill’s non-dairy cheeses, I knew I had to try them. If not for me, then for my cheese-loving husband, because cheese is most definitely his kryptonite (and coffee and baked goods, but at least the first is already vegan and I feel like I have the second one covered). Just one problem: Kite Hill was only available in California and hadn’t yet made it to the East Coast.
Until now. Or maybe, quite a while ago and I missed it. You see, it’s exclusive to Whole Foods but you won’t find it anywhere near the Daiya in the regular dairy aisle. Instead, Kite Hill’s products are appropriately located in the fancy cheese department. That’s awesome, but it also means a lot of people searching for non-dairy cheese may miss it. Good thing Whole Foods usually puts the gourmet chocolates next to the cheeses. At least the vegan chocolate lovers will be hovering nearby.
Kite Hill makes four varieties of almond and macadamia nut milk cheeses, including plain Cassucio, Truffle, Dill and Chive Cassucio, White Alder, and Costanoa. I was able to find all but the beautiful paprika and fennel-pollen-encrusted Costanoa at my Whole Foods, and despite the slight sticker shock (they ranged in price from $12-$14 each), I excitedly purchased all three. I mean, I had to for research purposes.
The verdict? Simply put, I think Kite Hill is a game-changer for the non-dairy cheese world. The appearance, the texture, the flavors…spot-on. And here’s why, via Kite Hill’s website:
“From the beginning, we were adamant that our process follow the time-honored techniques of traditional artisanal dairy cheese-making. This meant using only a short list of the best ingredients, superior French equipment in our aging rooms, and going through a lengthy and painstaking process of trial and error rather than taking shortcuts.
…we value craftsmanship, culinary creativity, delicious choices, and collaboration with farmers. And while our cheeses are made with only four ingredients: nut milk, cultures, enzymes, and salt, the magic of fermentation and aging yields many delicious possibilities…”
So awesome. The cheeses are not quite as rich and creamy as their dairy-based counterparts, but when served with crackers, fruit, and a little fig butter, I completely forgot I was eating nut milk cheese. I kept trying to choose a favorite variety, but they’re all so good. And the true test – did Aaron like them?
Yes, he loved them! Aaron immediately started talking about how thrilled it made him to be able to bring back our old tradition of enjoying a cheese plate at home, and giving me forewarning that our grocery bill was about to increase.
I would like to say that these cheeses are destined for a homemade, less expensive version, but after reading about the process and the art behind them, I’m happy to let the professionals at Kite Hill take charge on this one. And what a team they have.
Have you had the luxury of trying Kite Hill yet? If so, what did you think?