The prompt for today was about my favorite late night snack. I’m not a big late night snacker lately…if only for the fact that I’m usually passed the eff out by 11:30pm. So, I’m going rogue and writing about my quest to try all the new Sainsbury’s “Free From” range of vegan cheeses. Sainsbury’s is one of the major supermarket chains in the UK. If you recall, these are the ones that were the catalyst for vegan cheese being renamed “Gary”.
It all started in Edinburgh. Now, the university I graduated from is kind of like a cult, and because of that the alumnae are generally super active. All the alumnae who moved to Europe started a tradition in the 80s of organizing a reunion for all the alumnae living here once every two years in a different city. Last year’s was Berlin, this year Edinburgh! I have some friends in and around the city, so I booked a couple extra days off and made a trip of it!
That included tracking down these new vegan cheeses, all the way out to a Sainsbury’s superstore out in a somewhat questionable suburb. Turns out there are only Sainsbury Local’s (a.k.a. smaller stores with no vegan cheese) in the center! I called the store to make sure they were in stock and then headed off!
I got the Carmelised Onion Cheddar, the Wensleydale, the Greek-style feta, the Garlic and Herb Spread and the Cheddar Shreds. Each of the block cheeses was 2 pounds 25, which seems a normal price for vegan cheese (especially when Brexit is weakening the pound – har har)!
I had the Carmelised Onion Cheddar style on crackers with friends and I personally liked it. It definitely does not taste like real cheese, and non-vegans would certainly make fun of you for feeding it to them. Some people complain it has a chemical taste, and I guess I can see it, but I like it. If you don’t expect it to be an exact replica though, I find it quite nice. This one seemed to have pretty controversial views on the internet, people either loved it or hated it and said it tasted like chemicals. I can kind of see where the hate-it people are coming from, but the taste translated to something pleasant for me, haha. Maybe I’ve just been vegan too long. Anyway, thumbs up!
Wensleydale. I never had a non-vegan version of this. Cranberries in cheese, sure why not! I asked my friend Gulliver what he thought before buying and he said, “unusual, but I might buy it again” so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I quite liked it, it’s crumbly and I ate it on top of homemade cinnamon raisin bread.
Garlic Herb Spread. No photo. This tasted like garlic and like spread, so overall a win. Not too weird, it tasted like a garlic herb cheesy spread should taste. Spread-like. I brought it over to my friend Colleen’s in Edinburgh and we ate it on pita bread with some delicious beet burgers she made. Thumbs up!
I’m not usually bothered by shreds, but they do serve their utilitarian purpose. The shreds were nice and solid, not wobbly and clumpy like lots of other vegan cheese shreds. I wasn’t sure if it would melt, but lo and behold, it did so beautifully. I was 100% more interested in the shreds after melting them. Thumbs up!
Greek-style feta. I’m not especially excited about feta, but I figured I might as well give it a go. This actually ended up being my favorite!!! It gets crumbly so it looks like feta, and has a nice tart taste. I never would have guessed I’d like this one!
I was tempted by the premade lasagna, but it seemed a bit over the top to smuggle in my suitcase. I also didn’t try the regular cheddar block (they didn’t have it and the carmelised onion one seemed more interested anyway), nor the plain cream cheese (carry-on only means no liquids or pastes).
Overall, I like them! Will certainly be smuggling more home next time I’m in the UK!