I’ve been hearing a buzz about a new brand of nut-based cheeses, Kite Hill. It is a collaboration of Tal Ronnen, Monte Casino, Jean Prevot, and Dr. Pat Brown. I was excited to try it, as it is difficult for companies to emulate the flavors & textures of cheese, and that is the excuse that I hear most often for why people cannot give up animal products. There are 4 flavors available currently: Casuccio (Soft Fresh and Truffle, Dill & Chive), Costanoa, and White Alder. Unlike any other vegan cheese brand, Kite Hill is being sold from the artisanal cheese case in Whole Foods… not the vegan cheese case. This is both good and bad, I think, as it shows that these nut-based cheeses are of the same quality as the other artisanal cheeses that Whole Foods carries. It will also possibly result in dairy cheese lovers buying the product, however if someone is specifically looking for vegan cheeses, they could miss it.
After reading the descriptions on the website, I was really hoping to try the Costanoa. The Whole Foods I live near is a small one though, and they only have the Soft Fresh Casuccio and White Alder right now, so I bought both of them. They were each about $13.99. More than I would normally spend for a wheel of cheese, but I had to try them out. I bought some Milton’s crackers to go with them, and set off for home.
My opinion on these new cheeses, honestly, is that they are fairly bland. Maybe that is how they are supposed to be. The Casuccio has the consistency of a block of tofu with a texture on top, and a hint of some kind of potentially (ever so light) cheesy flavor. It’s not awful, but I think I would get just as far smearing lightly marinated tofu on a cracker (which would be cheaper.) The White Alder on the other hand, was a more worthwhile pick. It is a Brie clone, down to the wooden wheel/box that it comes in. I was never a Brie connoisseur, so I can’t speak to the subtleties of the flavor, but I think I remember it being a bit more pungent and flavorful. It does have a nice spreadable consistency though, and I think with a milder cracker or maybe some fruit it would be better able to show its strengths. I am going to try it in a recipe tonight, and I may put the remaining Casuccio on a salad, as the Kite Hill website suggests.
I will continue to be on the lookout for the Costanoa, and will update this once I find it. Happy Cheesing!