American Artisan Vegan Cheese Round-Up

Vegan MoFo Post #15!

I am actually almost caught up on my travels, so this post isn’t specifically location-dependent, but rather a summary of all my vegan artisan cheese sampling across America. Last time I was in the States was in November 2012 and MY GOODNESS has the scene changed with regards to vegan cheese!
Dr. Cow Vegan Cheese Shop | Vegan Nom NomsFirst of all, there is a VEGAN CHEESE SHOP in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A whole SHOP dedicated to vegan cheese and that is Dr. Cow. Now, I have been reading about Dr. Cow on the internet for ages, but before you had to order it online and hope for the best. Since it is not so cheap, I was always too scared for that. However, something about seeing all of it in front of me made a difference.

I’ll be honest, right after I bought some Dr. Cow and tried it I was disappointed. I had grand expectations and it didn’t immediately meet them. So I put it in the fridge, waited a few days, then tried it again and it was AMAZING. I have no idea what changed. It fermented to the perfect state in those few days or my taste buds adjusted, I’m not sure, but it became vegan cheese gold in my mouth. It’s still my favorite, after all the ones I’ve tried, but seems only available on the east coast unless you buy online. Worth it, my friends, I am sold.

Dr. Cow Vegan Cheese Plate | Vegan Nom NomsA vegan cheese plate I made out of Dr. Cow plain vegan cheese (left), the pimento sundried tomato version (right, my favorite) and some tofu veggie cream cheese I got from Bergen Bagels in Brooklyn (more in the NYC & Brooklyn post). A vegan cheese plate that states good at room temperature?! Yes, it’s possible. I am still dreaming about this moment in time during which I ate all this. Treeline Packaging Aged Nut Cheese | Vegan Nom NomsAlright, another vegan cheese I’ve heard a lot about is Treeline Aged Nut Cheese. here is the packaging. Treeline Plain Aged Tree Nut Cheese | Vegan Nom Noms It looks pretty fabulous, this is the Classic Hard Cheese flavor, but this one was a huge disappointment to me. I’ve heard some other bloggers rave about it so maybe mine sat on the shelf too long or I got a bad batch, but it tasted to fall-apart crumbly to me and had a strange aftertaste that I didn’t enjoy. It wasn’t really tangy at all. I really want to believe the best, but I’m hesitant to spend the money on it again now. Have any of you tried Treeline? What did you think? It seems so good on paper and the packaging is really nice and classy, but the taste didn’t do it for me. I hope it was a fluke!Cashew Cream Cheese Smoked | Vegan Nom Noms I headed to Berkeley, CA to the vegan shop Republic of V. I asked them to advise me in vegan cheese, between Vtopian and Punk Rawk Labs, but the shopkeeper and other person in the shop both told me I need to try the cream cheese above. It’s a fermented cashew cream cheese, smoked flavor and there are shitaki mushrooms involved. It was pretty rad, tasted like cheese, unique flavor. Not my utmost favorite as I like the tangy super fermented stuff more, but quite impressive regardless. Punk Rawk Labs Cheese Packaging | Vegan Nom Noms Last but not least, Punk Rawk Labs vegan cheeses. I first saw these at The Wedge Co-op in Minneapolis, but at $13 there, I was hesitant. However, every vegan grocery store I checked out told me this one was amazing, so eventually I caved and just bought it for $11 in Denver at Nooch Vegan Market. Holy crap, why did I not try it sooner?! It is definitely my favorite! Tangy and delicious, great on crackers. Even my two non-vegan friends with me tried it and told me if no one told them they would think it was cheese. Approved! Here is the packaging above, these come in cute little silver containers.Punk Rawk Labs Cheese Packaging | Vegan Nom Noms More packaging, super cute. Punk Rawk Labs Plain Cheese | Vegan Nom Noms Now the money shot. This is the plane flavor. It was delicious. Very solid, no slimy feeling, no coconut oil overload. It’s not quite as solid as a hard cheddar or something, but it’s not very soft either.Punk Rawk Labs Smoked Cheese | Vegan Nom NomsEveryone kept recommending the smoked flavor to me, but I was hesitant as I am more a tangy flavor person than smoked, but I caved and got this and it was amazing. It didn’t taste heavily smoked to me and was crusted in peppercorns. Freaking delicious. Go try some now. I want to try all the other flavors!

Not pictured are Vtopian Artisan Cheeses based in Oregon. I only tried the spicy cheddar flavor after it was recommended to me at Food Fight! in Portland, OR. I liked the flavor, but one of the main ingredients of all of their cheeses is coconut oil, so that texture prevails. I only tried that one flavor though, and their bries look freaking awesome, so I need to give it another go, but unfortunately I haven’t seen any in the shops since I left Denver. I’d say they rank solidly in the middle of all the vegan cheeses I’ve tried. I didn’t try melting it, but I imagine the coconut oil would be great for that and they have a ton of interesting flavors. The coconut oil just didn’t give it the exact texture I’m looking for. The pictures on their website are to die for, however.

There you have it, next post we’re headed to New Orleans! For more check out the Recipe Index, Posts by Location page or follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

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Vegan Nom Noms Does America: Roswell, New Mexico

Vegan MoFo Post #14!

Roswell City Limits | Vegan Nom NomsI’ve always had a bit of a nerd streak to me. If it has vampires or aliens in it, I’m probably in, let’s not lie. I watched the entire X-Files series as a kid and even read the books (yes, there were books), I maybe even consumed a fair amount of Mulder and Scully fan-fiction in middle school and any WB sci-fi/fantasy drama that appeared on TV. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to go to Roswell, even if it is filled with kitschy alien stuff. Thus, Roswell had to be included on my road trip!

That said, my friend and I studiously watched Roswell in preparation and got in the car. Actually I am watching Roswell reruns on Netflix as I type this! There won’t be any food in this post, as I was coming down with a cold and mostly ate packaged fancy ramen soup and cheap uneventful Mexican food, but there will be lots of aliens so I hope that makes up for it.

International UFO Museum Roswell | Vegan Nom NomsOur first stop was the International UFO Museum Research Center, which is actually a serious museum with a kitschy alien edge. It is very reading heavy, but I found it fascinating. It documents the history of UFO sightings and all of the written statements taken by anyone ever involved in the Roswell incident of 1947. It definitely had me convinced that something happened there in 1947, as many different people made written statements while under oath that all mentioned a lot of the same details and these were not New Agey hippies in the 40s, but ranchers and farmers in a small southwestern town who were probably rather conservative.

UFO Museum Statement | Vegan Nom NomsHere is one of the sworn statements. It’s quite small, but if you click on it, it should get bigger.

I also found it quite interesting that several people finally came out with their stories in the 90s, while they were laying on their death beds. Something must have left quite the impression if they felt the need to confess what they saw some 45-50 years later before they died. Will the mystery ever be solved?Roswell Alien Street Art | Vegan Nom NomsSerious thoughts aside, there was a lot of awesome alien-inspired street art all around the downtown. Including this human hand reaching for an alien had huge on the side of a building near the UFO Museum. Roswell Alien Storefront | Vegan Nom NomsAcross from the mural, this bakery had some happy alien bakers enticing customers to come in. Roswell UFO Parking OnlyThere was even one parking lot with UFO parking only! ;-) Roswell Alien Storefront | Vegan Nom Noms Lots of storefronts with nothing related to aliens or tourists at all even had little alien cutouts and such in their windows, like this alien woman in a dress.Roswell Alien Foot Prints | Vegan Nom NomsWe also found these green alien footprints on the pavement leading around the corner to another UFO memorabilia store. This shop had a “Blacklight Experience” for $2, which we passed on. Roswell Alien Zone | Vegan Nom Noms After the museum, lunch and some wandering, we decided to check out the Alien Zone, which I had read about online. It is basically a whole bunch of scenes set up with aliens you can take pictures with and it was so much fun! We had a blast! Above is me with a beer-drinking couch lounging alien.Roswell Alien Zone | Vegan Nom NomsAnd me surprised by an alien about to get an autopsy?! Roswell Alien Zone | Vegan Nom NomsGetting some drinks from an alien bartender, as you do. Roswell Alien Zone | Vegan Nom NomsThen it was my turn to get examined by an alien doctor and narrowly escape! Roswell Alien Lamp Post | Vegan Nom NomsThere were even some alien lamp posts downtown!UFO McDonalds Roswell | Vegan Nom NomsThis is probably the ONLY time you’ll see McDonalds on this blog, but there was evena UFO-shaped McDonalds in Roswell.

I highly recommend staying over in Roswell if you’re passing through the area. You really don’t need more than one full day to do everything, as there is not so much going on besides the alien stuff, but it’s totally worth it otherwise, at least for me. If you have more time, you can check out other stuff in the area, like the officially named Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada or you can go up to the signs for Area 51 (also in Nevada), just don’t pass the signs or the military will come at you with rifles and charge you $600, according to the internet. It seems like they do actually do research for military war technology that’s top secret. Eek. Yes, I did get stuck in a two hour internet black hole researching this, shhh.

For more background about the Roswell UFO incident head on over to the Wikipedia page here. There are also tons of books written about it. One the UFO Museum recommended and kept mentioning was The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell if you’re curious!

Food

Ah, and to write something about food here…I recommend shopping from the grocery store. They have Albertsons and IGA in town. Otherwise you can go for some accidentally vegan things at Taco Bell, or go to one of the many Mexican restaurants and get some chips and guacamole, etc., but yes, not especially vegan here, though totally possible to survive!

Where to Stay

Our first night we stayed at the cheapest motel I’ve stayed at yet, the Mayo Lodge booked through Booking.com for $41 total including all taxes, that’s only about $20 each! It was very, very, simple and sparsly decorated, but there was a fridge and microwave and they gave us free ginger ales and soap. The wifi barely reached the back where our room was, but I’m getting used to that by now. Point is, it was cheap and we didn’t get bed bugs.

The second night we stayed in a very nice AirBnB for about the same price with a host named Timothy and his son. There were only two or so AirBnBs in Roswell so should be easy to find! They even introduced us to Alien Amber Ale!

 

Next stop….Austin, Texas! More more check out the Recipe Index, Posts by Location page or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

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Vegan Nom Noms Does America: Denver and Boulder, Colorado

Vegan MoFo Post #13!

Finally made it to Denver and it was pretty awesome! Mountains and city and vegan food, oh my! First up, of course, was brunch!

City O' City Vegan Brunch Denver | Vegan Nom NomsWe went to a place called City O’ City that my friend took us to that had tons of vegan options. This was tofu scramble with tempeh hash with ridiculously amazing vegan gravy on top. I also got a half order of biscuits and gravy. I am really digging the biscuits and gravy I see all over the menus in the pacific northwest and the south. Germany needs to get on this train because it is delicious! Anyway, City O’ City was pretty great and they also have a bar and lunch and dinner options too, plus lots of seating and good coffee.
Riding Bull Denver | Vegan Nom Noms After eating ourselves happily full, we went for a walk before my other friend had to meet someone. We discovered this massive bull statue so of course I had to ride it. I also died climbing down though, slippery!Legal Weed Shop Denver | Vegan Nom Noms Also, it was totally weird and interesting to see actual coffee shops where people can buy weed in Colorado, as when I moved away from America that was not a thing! Here’s one called Mile High, hah. I like that it’s under a Kung Fu studio.

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Stumbled upon this mini little library on the street in a residential neighborhood we walked through, super cute!

Homemade Sweet Potato Peanut Noodles | Vegan Nom NomsThough there were many vegan places on my list for Denver, we had a serious hankering for some home-cooked food and to save some money so we made our own food. These are peanut noodles made with purple sweet potato noodles I bought in Koreatown in LA.  They are my new favorite since a friend and Couchsurfer introduced them to me in Berlin. I made a peanut sauce out of peanut butter, rice vinegar, brown sugar, Sriracha and hot water whisked together or try my peanut noodles recipe. It’s an old stand-by, the recipe changes based on what I have at home that moment.

Denver Groceries

Nooch Vegan Market Haul Denver | Vegan Nom Noms I made my friend take me to Nooch Vegan Market. I’m quite enjoying my tour of America’s vegan grocery stores. This was probably the biggest vegan grocery store I’ve ever been to, besides the Veganz chain in Europe. I got some plain Punk Rawk Labs vegan cheese, my favorite vegan cheese so far besides Dr. Cow (post on American vegan cheeses upcoming!), a chipotle caramel bar, vegan macarons, crackers for the cheese and a VegNews magazine. The macarons were good, but not as good as Sweet Maresa’s that I tried in NYC! The owners were super helpful consoling me on my “which vegan cheese to buy?!” dilemma. The Punk Rawk Labs was so good I went back to get the Smoked flavor later. I want to try them all!Nooch Vegan Market Black Bean Tofu Denver | Vegan Nom Noms I also spotted this black bean tofu at Nooch, seems totally interesting! Has anyone tried it?!

Denver Bars

Our Mutual Friend Malt and Brew – This was an awesome chill brewery with a little beer garden, yummy craft beer and a living room field a friend invited me to. Recommended!

The Meadowlark – We went here after, large awesome beer garden in the back. I’m sure they probably have good beer, but we got cheap Tecate beer here so I didn’t try it myself.

Charlie’s – We tried to go gay clubbing and ended up here, which turned out to be queer country line-dancing. I cannot country line dance, but it was super fun to watch and switched over to pop at around 10-11pm.

Boulder

Leaf Vegetarian Boulder Beet Pierogies | Vegan Nom NomsWe took a day trip to Boulder on Saturday, which is  smaller hippyish town about an hour from Denver. They had a MASSIVE farmer’s market there that we only caught the tail end of, but it was great. After wandering around downtown and the creek going through the park, we headed to Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant for happy hour, as they had appetizers and beers at a discounted price. I got these vegan beet pierogies (AMAZING) and the sweet potato and yukon mixes fries. So yum.Leaf Vegetarian Boulder Hominy | Vegan Nom NomsMy friend also got this hominy, which was sort of like individually fried kernels of corn, hah. I didn’t even know what hominy was before I started this trip, is that bad?

Leaf Vegetarian Boulder Chocolate Peanut Dessert | Vegan Nom NomsI HAD to try dessert here and I went for this chocolate and peanut butter torte with vanilla vegan ice cream. Chocolate and peanut butter always win! Boulder Colorado Vegan Hot Dog | Vegan Nom NomsAfter dinner I was still a bit hungry so I got this vegan hot dog from a hot dog stand. It said “Veggie Hot Dog”, but I checked with the owner who showed me the label and confirmed it was vegan.

After getting our hot dogs we noticed this born again Christian dude sitting on a pedestal fighting with some teenagers about god really loudly, so we parked ourselves on a bench to watch the action for at least 20 minutes. Pure entertainment right there and sort of seemed like the guy was fighting a loosing battle given that Boulder is a pretty hippy liberal town. At one point a group of hula hoopers in hippy skirts passed by talking to him while spinning their hula hoops. It was better than television.

And that was Colorado! I definitely need to go back as I loved the vibe of this place, city mixed with outdoorsy, craft beer galore. I only managed to scratch the surface!

Next stop…Roswell, New Mexico! Get ready to see ALL THE ALIENS! For more, check the Recipe Index, Posts by Location page or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

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