Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I think I'm the only person not in love with the Field Roast Chao cheese and that's....okay

I love vegan cheese.
I particularly love Dr. Cow and Treeline.
I love vegan cheese so much that I even love vegan cheese that I have to enjoy begrudgingly because it's produced by a cheese company who makes vegan cheese but is consistently disrespectful to their vegan clientele.


As you probably already know, Field Roast- purveyors of my favorite franks and my annual Thanksgiving roast, makes a new sliced cheese called chao. Sliced vegan cheese is a game changer!! I wanted to love it and was thrilled when I found it.


Because I wanted to present the illusion of self-control, I purchased only two of the three available cheeses: coconut herb with black pepper and tomato cayenne with spicy peppers, leaving the comparatively boring sounding creamy original on the shelf.


The slices were thicker than what I remember of the old, non-vegan, American cheese slices of my childhood. They also weren't individually wrapped- probably because they needn't be. Unlike said American cheese, chao slices aren't sweaty and damp. And remember how non-vegan cheese used to mysteriously adhere to surfaces...like plates? Obviously, I still have unresolved issues on the subject; it's because I find non-vegan cheese repulsive for a multitude of reasons: cruelty and grossness highest on the scale. But, in direct contrast, the chao slices are very appealing!


89 agrees.


We figured it was our duty to taste it plain; 89 went first and she was all about the tomato cayenne! Contrarily, she was not a fan of the coconut herb. She kind of rolled it around in her mouth and then spit it out, so I decided to forgo that portion of my taste-test.


I evenly prepared the simple components in anticipation of grilled cheese perfection- the ultimate cheese test.


I heated it in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes: my usual grilled cheese m.o.


I let it sit for a minute or two, then assembled the sandwiches and let them sit for another minute or two so that the two sides would synthesize appropriately. The smell was extremely appetizing and I couldn't wait to dig in. I left my arugula and sliced tomato off to the side because I wanted my first taste to be all cheese.


When I took my first bite, a good ten minutes since removing the grilled cheese from the oven, the cheese squirted into my mouth like liquid in a most unpleasant way. No matter how long I let the sandwich sit, the cheese remained less viscous than I would have preferred- a consistency that prevented me from noticing anything else.


Undeterred, the next day I decided to get back to basics and try the slices plain. I had the same reaction as 89; the tomato cayenne had an amazing enough taste for me to look past the texture that wasn't authentic for me. I was less impressed with the coconut herb flavor, however, and found it to be a little on the rubbery side- something I hadn't noticed with the tomato cayenne.


When I made a second sammie I knew I wanted to cook the cheese less in the hopes of keeping it in solid form. I pre-toasted the bread a little (I like it toasty) and then melted the cheese on it for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. That did the trick. Melted this way it remained sufficiently solid and, served with the obligatory arugula and tomato as well as tomato soup, this was a major improvement over the previous attempt. The tomato cayenne flavor is totally spicy and delicious, but there's still something un-cheesy about the texture that I can't quite put my finger on. I want to love it but there is definitely a roadblock.


Next I decided to have an un-melted sammie with the coconut herb, arugula, and veganaise. It still just didn't do it for me. I might even go so far as to say it was a little pasty.


Ultimately, I finished up my preferred flavor, tomato cayenne, with another grilled cheese. I accidentally left it in a minute too long and wound up with another liquidy sandwich. I take full responsibility for this- particularly because I was aware of the issue and I should have been more careful, but frankly I can't deal with such finicky cheese!


In the time it's taken me to formulate this review, I've heard most people raving about the flavor that I neglected to buy: creamy original. Perhaps that's the missing link in all this? I'll give it a go next time I find it and will report back.

I do want to stress, though, that this is not a bad review. And that? Not a disclaimer. This just happens to be a product I didn't love, but I'm weighing in anyway because I'm an unfiltered blogger; it's what I do. I am 100% a fan of Field Roast as a company- both because I really enjoy many of their products and because I respect them as an ethical company.

Every once in a while there's some blogger backlash over "bad" reviews not being helpful to the vegan community and I just wanted to chime in that this type of admonition is misguided, in my opinion- particularly in the vegan community. Who says vegans have to love everything vegan? We don't. It's not giving your opinion that's bad for veganism; it's the actual bad vegan food, bad vegan service, and bad vegan products that are bad for veganism.

In this case, it's not that I think the chao cheese is bad; it's just not for me. And this is not to say that I wouldn't tell you if something was bad (duh) or suggest that you must believe something is bad because I deem it so. But I'm guessing you already knew that.

That being said, feel free to let me know if you love chao, because judging by my social media feeds I'm definitely in the minority!

31 comments:

  1. Ya know, you write the best reviews. I know I've said it before, but it's true!! A perfect, all around examination and now I have rendered my decision: I will stick with Daiya. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ingrid! I don't know what it is about Daiya, but I love it too. And I really don't want to. I hope to try my hand at making my own some time soon...

      Delete
    2. I LOVE the creamy original, it tastes like muenster cheese (which I adore)!! I prefer this over Daiya any day.

      Delete
  2. "it's the actual bad vegan food, bad vegan service, and bad vegan products that are bad for veganism."

    Hahaha I totally agree with you on that one! Ok so you just happened to try the 2 not so awesome flavors, but please go get that creamy original and report back! I was thinking the same thing about boring plain so I bought the tomato cayenne and my non-vegan sister went for the creamy original. Well I begged a slice from her out of curiosity and it was so yummy I could eat the whole package in one sitting! She loved it so much she wouldn't even give me another slice! Unfortunately I'm an hour from Whole Foods so I've been deprived since then : (

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad to hear that! I think I'll be near the source some time next week... Creamy Original is in my immediate future.

      Delete
  3. Sad. I love the original and the tomato is pretty good too for something spicy. I make grilled cheese the old school way. Throw it in a pan with a lid. When I see it's beginning to melt I stop and flip it on a plate. Were you making sandwiches for the entire neighborhood?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that bread big? It didn't occur to me, at the time, to one half one flavor and one half the other. THINK BIG!

      Delete
    2. Also, I grew up with toaster oven grilled cheeses so that's all I know!

      Delete
  4. I got the tomato cayenne and the coconut herb too, they didnt have the original, so I'll try that next. I tried the tomato cayenne on a beet burger, and I just put a slice on the burger while it was still in the pan and covered it with a bowl for about 30 seconds to get it to soften. It didn't turn liquidy, so it was great. The idea of liquidy cheese on a sandwich sounds gross so I understand your feelings on it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're right, though; I was thinking to small. I needed to put that tomato cayenne on a chickpea salad sammie...

      Delete
  5. Me again. Please keep your reviews honest. I am so tired of the bloggers who receive a box of product everyday and love them all.

    ReplyDelete
  6. And 89 matched her bow to the Cheese! (echoing the others: keep it real/try the original flavor)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hmmmm, well first of all, I've got to say, coconut herb does not sound like an appealing flavor to me! I'm not big on vegan cheeses (or meats) but I have eaten a fair amount. I'm interested in trying Chao, at least.
    Thanks for mentioning that they come pre-sliced; I was under the impression they were blocks you cut pieces off of. And, as always, thank you for yr honesty! We definitely shouldn't lie, or hold off posting bad reviews of a food - that does a service to no one. And it doesn't even necessarily mean anything bad for the company; a little controversy never hurt anyone. Sometimes it makes me want to try a product more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no; I'd never be able to slice a block of cheese without losing a finger. So many people have had a similar reaction to the coconut herb; I don't know why I thought it would be good? The flavor of the tomato cayenne is on point, but I think I owe it to myself to try the creamy original.

      Delete
  8. Yep, better to call bad food where you see it. And you're only human, you can't love everything, especially when it does that weird liquidy thing.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I can't say I had any plans to try any of these but enjoyed the review non-the-less.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I haven't heard anything amazing about the coconut herb but I definitely still intend to try the original flavour. Good tip about not over melting it though! I usually do three minutes each side in a cast iron pan for VioLife or FYH grilled cheeses but I'm not sure my Air B&B will have one of those so I may be hitting you up for toaster oven grilled cheese tips!

    ReplyDelete
  11. haha i have the vision of the cheese squirting into your mouth in my head, it's an amusing though

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great review! I'm so curious about these cheeses - where did you buy them? I haven't seen them in any of the stores I go to yet :(

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think my first comment was lost when I logged in?

    I am dairy free due to allergies, and I am also allergic to at least one ingredient in almost every cheese sub I've seen in the store - but not this one! I bought only the herb flavor. I rather liked the texture cold. I tried it melted both in the oven and in the microwave. and found it a bit sticky and slidy (liquidy?) It seemed like there was too much sticking to my face and not enough getting in my mouth. But overall, a decent melt.

    but the flavor - uh . . it tasted like lemon cookies to me. Warm, cold, on two different day. Now, I like lemon cookies (ok, honestly I havent had one in ages - allergies). But thats not what I expect from a cheese.

    I'll find a way to finish up this package, but i really prefer my home made vegan cashew-based cheese ball!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hah, I'd forgotten about this! i've been using the plain flavor for 6 months now - I LOVE it on sandwiches, hot and cold! Yesterday it was on sale at whole foods, so I decided to pick up a tomato/chile or whatever. I threw it in some grits and eggs w spinach, towards the end, so it was melty chunks. I loved it! havent tried it on a sandwich yet. but I dont do plain cheese sandwiches in general? Tho i am tempted to try slices on crackers (or corn chips) some times

      Delete
  14. I am NOT vegan or even vegetarian (filthy meat eater) but I have been very curious about Vegan Cheeses. I will give the original and Tomato Cayenne a go. These will be my first non-dairy cheeses ... well next time i'm near a Whole Foods.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My fave vegan american cheese is Daiya. Best vegan and soy free cream cheese is Kite Hill IMHO.

    ReplyDelete
  16. My bad...maybe kite hill aint vegan but if loving kite hill cream cheese is wrong, then i don't wanna be right!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I enjoy the PLAIN chao! I've melted it on a tortilla and crumbled it cold over a salad. Really like the suggestion above about melting it in grits.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have been buying the Tomato Cayenne for a while now. My carnivore bf thought it was pretty good and he hates everything vegan. I haven't tried the Creamy Original but I have heard great things!

    I like to make a vegan sandwich with pickles, lettuce, Chao Tomato Cayenne, and Just Mayo vegan mayo and I am obsessed. I really didn't like Daiya but I have only bought it once.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have been buying the Tomato Cayenne for a while now. My carnivore bf thought it was pretty good and he hates everything vegan. I haven't tried the Creamy Original but I have heard great things!

    I like to make a vegan sandwich with pickles, lettuce, Chao Tomato Cayenne, and Just Mayo vegan mayo and I am obsessed. I really didn't like Daiya but I have only bought it once.

    ReplyDelete

Have you got something to say? It would be so nice to hear from you!
(I know captchas suck, but not as much as spam.)