October 14, 2011 by Living Girl Living Foods
Lately I’ve been thinking more about hosting a raw dinner party at my house, especially a cheese/appetizer party or a dinner where the main ingredient is a vegetable that is in season. A few days back I e-mailed Punk Rawk Labs via my work e-mail address and asked for a sample of their raw cheeses. They responded right away and a day after I received an e-mail stating that my samples were on their way!
I was interested in this company not only because they make raw vegan cheese but their cheese is soy free, organic, & live cultures are used! How they make raw vegan cheese is just like milk cheese except nut milk is used instead. The nut milk is fermented, moisture is removed & seasonings are then added. On their website they say that this is their winter line, so hopefully there are more products to come.
The four flavors sent to me where (left to right in the photo below); Smoked Cashew, Plain Cashew & Macadamia, Herb Macadamia and Smoked Macadamia.
The cheeses come in tins with a seal from the top all the way to the bottom. They seem to have a pretty good shelf life, my cheeses do not expire until November 15th. The packaging is beautiful, it’s wrapped in something similar to wax paper and unfolds like an origami gift.
For the most part these cheeses are; oily, but they are moist and some even feel like they are whipped. They are all truly different though so here is a breakdown of their texture, flavor, and what I found them to taste best with.
The Smoked Cashew Cheese is moist, slightly oily and easy to take out of the wrapper but holy smokes it is loaded with big pieces of black pepper. With both of the smoked cheeses I had chunks of black pepper stuck in my teeth for a quiet sometime. This cheese looks beautiful and would be perfect for a raw vegan cheese party. It cuts well, and looks like “real” cheese inside. I used in for a filling in raw beet ravioli and it tasted fantastic and complimented the sweetness of the beets making the dish savory. I also spread some on slices on pears and apples and the flavors went well together. I’m just going to throw this out there, I tried it on celery and it was terrible…terrible idea. I am going to guess it would be terrible with figs as well.
If you want to host a cheese party, I recommend placing cards next to each cheese suggesting fruits, vegetables, and so on to pair them with.
The Plain Cashew & Macadamia Cheese was so oily I had difficulties getting it out of both the wrapper and tin. In the photograph even the oil is visible & all of the lines from the wrapper. This cheese is extremely moist; it was difficult to cut because it melts. It had bits of nuts in it still; they were shredded-like & not too big or crunchy.
I could see this one being a great sour cream or cream cheese substitute. I’m hoping to test this one out for a pesto sauce ASAP. Since this cheese is plain and flexible in taste it was wonderful on apples and pears. But it was far too plain on beets.
This cheese would probably work best when making a sauce by making it rich and thick.
The Herb Macadamia Cheese is another one that is more on the bland side. This cheese is insanely fluffy and reminds me of mashed potatoes both in texture and taste. The herbs in this are not too strong, very light, and out of all of the cheeses this one is the least oily. I’m not sure if it’s because of the use of so much macadamia to make this product into a cheese but this flavor made me insanely thirsty. I found my tongue doing a bit of a horse smacking tongue action, not very attractive to say the least. This flavor was just okay on beets and only good on pear & apple. The herbs do not go well at with celery, it was very overwhelming. When cut the cheese looks appealing, may be I haven’t found the right paring for this one yet.
When all else fails these cheeses would all be tasty on a lovely flax cracker. There is a raw company that is fairly new to me at least called Havit Raw. The Smoked Cashew and Cashew Macadamia Cheeses taste rawmazing on Havit Raw’s Sweet Potato Crackers.
Like the other smoked flavors, the Smoked Cashew Cheese is heavy on the black pepper & the pieces of herbs are huge. It’s just slightly oily and it is easy to cut & display. It tasted wonderful on apples, pears, celery & beets.
I tried all of these cheeses on baby carrots and it was delicious! 😀 It was the perfect treat after an awesome snack after working out.
Another idea on how to use nut cheese is to garnish a soup, or make a lovely drizzle. Or even crumble up the cheese and sprinkle it over a salad, raw pasta and so on!
According to taste and appearance here is how I rank this line of Punk Rawk Labs Cheese:
#1 Smoked Cashew. I already knew what my two least favorites were right away, but choosing #1 and #2 was not easy. My top two are pretty much tied but what makes this one slightly better than the smoked macadamia is based on creaminess and appearance. I found this flavor to have more chunks of black pepper when I ate it and it honestly does looks like a dairy cheese. I’m not too familiar with cheeses but I feel safe in saying that this one is similar to a brie.
#2 Smoked Macadamia. Both macadamia cheeses have a mashed potato texture and it’s the most solid. I love the taste and the look of the smoked cheeses. They are unique, they look stunning, and could completely surprise someone who was expecting raw vegan cheese to be bland and ugly.
#3 Herb Macadamia Cheese. The herbs in this are lovely and I love how they compliment the fluffiness of the cheese. Plus, this one reminds me of mashed potatoes and that’s one sweet memory to me. But on the negative side it was just too plain and dry. I’d be nervous about making a dish with this one as the main attraction, especially with friends who are not raw or vegan. Both of the macadamia cheeses are more solid than the cashew or the cashew & macadamia.
#4 Cashew Macadamia Cheese. Even though this flavor is the most versatile it looks hideous. It’s very difficult to cut, I imagined myself with a pizza face after eating it, and when it comes down to it it’s nothing special. I honestly feel like this is something I could easily make at home.
Perfect for the holidays and as a special treat 🙂
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