We threw a party! A vegan cheese party, and it went over pretty damned well.
What led to this? Well quite simply, if you lined up all the vegetarians and some omnivores and asked them “why not vegan” most would likely respond, “cheese”. Cheese is the reason why many will not consider a dairy-free diet. So we wanted to illuminate the diverse, multifaceted and oh-so flavorful aspects within the current dairy-free plant-based cheese world, which has come a long way!
ecoRDN has years of catering experience but it had been a long while since we adorned ourselves in aprons and chef jackets. Since we were pretty sure a dairy-free plant-based cheese tasting never took place in Pittsburgh, we decided to go all-in and see what would happen.
The venue was set for Beauty Shoppe‘s lovely downstairs lounge. For those unaware, Beauty Shoppe is a co-working space located in the Liberty Bank Building on Penn Avenue in East Liberty.
With the location set we used eventbrite to sell our tickets and put the cap at 30 people due to the limitations of the space. (We Sold Out!!!)
Once the date, time, place, and tickets were set, we began contacting businesses local and nationwide for samples and donations and were throughly bowled over by the amount of love and amazing swag we received.
From the Pittsburgh end of things, one of our favorite restaurants, B52, kindly hooked us up with two giant containers of fermented cashew Labneh… (OMG all za’atar everything!), and Pittsburgh Winery donated 10 bottles of various wines! If you weren’t aware, Pittsburgh Winery is vegan friendly, they use old-school winemaking methods that include a simple, whole ingredient list of grapes, yeast, and sulfites. Awesome!
We also received an amazing donation from the lovely people at The Happy Vegan who sent three jars of their delicious Notcho Nocheez. Yum! If you are looking for a great dairy free dip (from mild to legit hot) please check them out!
Chef Johnny was excited to create a vegan cheese for the event so he got to work and came up with a super sharp smoky cheddar spread made from almonds! The super-easy recipe is located at the end of the blog! 💚
Further donations came from Zevia (who sent us an entire case of various sugar-free flavors, we knew they would be a perfect mixer or soft-drink option), and Treeline, who shipped us a cooler bag full of two wheels and four spreads (Cracked Pepper & Classic wheels – Chipotle Serrano Pepper and Scallion spreads, respectively). So Much Awesome 💚
Daiya Foods sent us a bundle of free vouchers which we used in exchange for their block cheeses: Medium Style Cheddar and Smoked Gouda, great accompaniments to our fruit platter!
To round out the donations, we set out to find a variety of dairy-free delights to give our guests plenty of options! Of those we were able to score one of the biggest hits of the night, Miyoko’s Kitchen Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash, a sharp umami wheel that uses an age-old cheese tradition using food grade ash (which minimize acidity). Along with the ash cheese we also procured another Miyoko product: buffalo-style Vegan Mozz!
Searches high and low around the city allowed us to obtain a relatively local brand of deliciousness from Cleveland, Ohio by the name of Red Lotus. Their Spirulina Bleu was a big hit! Also from Red Lotus was a lovely, piquant Spicy Chipotle spread.
Finishing off our dairy free list is Kite Hill, whose Truffle, Dill, & Chive went fast. In fact, they all went fast. It was hard to keep up, but we did. And everyone was fed, multiple times over!
Besides a few hiccups along the way, the event was a success. People seemed really happy. We were able to chat with our guests once things settled and were able to glean a lot of positivity from each of the interactions.
We learned A LOT from this event and will use that knowledge to make our next event even better! Thank you for your patience during this first venture!
A HUGE Thank You to EVERYONE who participated 💚💚💚
Much Love to B52, Pittsburgh Winery, Notcho Nocheez, Zevia, Daiya Foods, Treeline!
Thank You to ALL the companies who make the amazing vegan cheeses and contribute additional foodie-love and positivity into our ever-growing population; Miyoko’s Kitchen, Red Lotus, Kite Hill. 💚💚💚
Thank You to Vegan Pittsburgh for tabling our event, it was a pleasure to have you! 💚
Thank You Beauty Shoppe for having us! 💚
Thank you to our volunteer, Tawnee!
THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR GUESTS 💚💚💚
We hope to see your beautiful faces at our next event… More Soon! 💚
And now the recipe! 💚
ecoRDN’s Dairy-Free Smoky Cheddar Almond Spread
OMG! This is ecoRDN‘s first attempt with a dairy-free vegan cheese and it’s amazing! This recipe is oh so simple: no soaking and no tedious removal of almond skins. All you need for this recipe (besides the ingredients) is a high-powered blender (Vitamix, etc), that is a absolute must to get the smooth texture! If you already have the blender, get these ingredients and get to making all the bellies happy. All. The. Bellies.
What you will need:
3 Cups Raw Almonds
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1/4 Cup Shiro Miso Paste (White Miso)
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar (or Apple Cider Vinegar)
2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke (we use hickory for this recipe)
2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Corn Starch
Add all ingredients to your high-powered blender, turn variable slowly to the highest setting (if not using a Vitamix, follow the directions in your manual for best results) and use your tamper to push everything toward the blades. You will need to do this for up to 5 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape sides with a spatula. Blend evenly. Blend, blend blend. Consistency should be thick but smooth and spreadable.
Enjoy ecoRDN‘s sweet, tangy dairy-free smoky almond spread on your favorites: apples, crackers, roasted potatoes – how about veggies?. Add some to your vegan mac-n-cheese sauce for an extra powerful plant-based bacon hit, or go completely bonkers and spread this smoky delight on your toast. The possibilities are many (and bonkers!)
If you try your hand at this recipe let us know what you think in the comments below.
As always, thanks for reading and eat well!
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©2017 ecoRDN 💚