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Cheese is one of life's little pleasures. We enjoy it melted on pizza, washed down with wine on a Friday night antipasto, and we know all too well how it can totally change the game in a simple burger.
Here at Trial and Error, we've seen different types of dairy-free cheese popping up on menus and in supermarkets, so we thought it was high time we trialled them to see how they compare to traditional dairy options.
We enlisted Claudia, a vegan, and Megan, a self-proclaimed cheese expert and non-vegan. Together they tasted four dairy-free cheese alternatives: cheddar, feta, a cashew cheese and cream cheese.
Here's what they thought.
• Angel Food Dairy-Free Cheddar Alternative: $11.50 for 300g
This was the only one our resident vegan, Claudia, had tried before. She recommends it melted on pizza and pasta.
Made mainly from modified pea and maize starch, non-vegan Megan was initially put off by its very strong smell.
But a taste revealed it wasn't as strong as it was whiffy and the texture was pleasingly cheesy.
"It does taste like a cheddar, as close to a cheddar as I think you could get without actually being a cheddar," explained Megan.
• Delishu Cultured Cashew Vegan Cheese: $13 for 100g
This one has four ingredients: cashew nuts, vegan probiotic starter culture, organic coconut butter and salt. This fascinated Megan who pointed out it's actually fermented with bacteria the same way real cheese is made.
Claudia was interested to see whether it just tasted like cashews or if it did actually resemble cheese.
The verdict? Soft and "delightful", it had a tartness and a lot of flavour - not just a lot of nuttiness.
• Green Vie Crumbly Greek Vegan Feta: $10 for 200g
On first inspection, this one certainly looked like feta. And it claimed to have the same salty, tangy and authentic crumbly texture, just like dairy feta. But Claudia and Megan didn't agree. "It's just a little lack-lustre," Claudia said.
Both decided it definitely wasn't salty enough and didn't crumble the same way real feta does. It's redeeming feature was a nice after taste.
• Angel Food Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Alternative: $8.50 for 240g
At first, our testers were a bit taken aback by the unusual colour of the cheese: slightly yellow, rather than the expected white shade of cream cheese.
It was also firm and hard to stir which Megan found "alarming".
After trying it, both were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the texture and taste.
Our vegan and non-vegan agreed: although it didn't look like cream cheese, didn't "act" like cream cheese, it did taste like cream cheese.
Two of the dairy-free alternatives received a very enthusiastic thumbs up, and the other two were deemed edible but not mind-blowing.
The clear winner in this taste test was Delishu, both Megan and Claudia's top pick.
They loved the creaminess and the overall taste. Megan even went so far as to admit she liked all of them and that this taste test might just have won her over.