Okay, okay, today I had the Great Cheeze Off, but I'm only going to post my initial thoughts. What gives?! Well, it's more or less that my brain is totally fried from school and I'm also too lazy to find my card reader and take the pictures off, and it can't be a Cheeze Off proper without photographs. But I promise that tomorrow, I will really make the Cheeze Off happen.
Today I'll introduce the subject. Someone on the PPK posted about cheddar Teese, and this caused me (for some reason still unknown) to go on some sort of VEGAN CHEEZE BENDER. I ordered two flavors each of Teese (cheddar and mozzarella), Sheese (strong cheddar and smoked cheddar), and Cheezly (mature white cheddar and cheddar with vegan bacon bits, I am so not joking).
Since there's no clear way to compare mozzarella with smoked cheddar or smoked cheddar with cheddar with bacon bits, etcetera, I decided to stick to just comparing the three cheddars on hand. My methodology was very simple: first I examined each cheeze visually and um... what's the word for smellingly? with my nose, in any case... and I looked at the texture of each cheeze. Then I sampled a small piece of each cheeze plain and uncooked, along with a bite of pretzel. (I don't have any crackers on hand.) Finally, I cooked a bit of each cheeze into cheeze muffins, where they got a chance to spend about 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven and get their melt on.
It's a well known fact that most vegan cheezes are geared towards the melted stage. I don't know why this is. Back when I ate dairy cheese, I rarely ate it melted. You know what cheese I used for melting? American cheese. Or, horseradish cheddar. Good cheeses don't NEED to be melted, they're good on their own. But for some reason, vegan cheeze producers have this intense focus on melted cheeze, as if I didn't know how to make a delicious vegan pizza without some sort of cheeze substance on it.
Anyway, I went into the initial phase of my cheeze testing prepared for disappointment. I'm actually fairly surprised and pleased with the results of round one. Here are my notes!
Sheese - "Strong Cheddar" - claylike texture. Has a somewhat stinky but very cheeselike smell. It comes in a resealable container, which I really like. Eaten raw, it has a flavor that almost goes cheesy, but there's a STRONG taste of soy in there. It is reminding me of Soyatoo whipped cream. I never thought Soyatoo tasted very soy-like... until I ate this Sheesh. I can't think of why Sheesh tastes like Soyatoo if it's not the soy. Anyway, I'm a little disconcerted by the touch of soy flavor. The texture is really great, though, and does remind me of actual cheese.
Teese - "Cheddar" - I don't know where to begin with this stuff. I've been hearing rumors about how awesome Teese is. Teese is what inspired this whole adventure! But let me tell you, Teese is not meant to be eaten raw. Teese comes in a log form. That's the first thing that's wrong with it. It smells VERY cheesy-- to the extent where I'm actually almost nauseated by it. (Dairy cheese makes me feel kind of gross when I smell it these days.) There's no convenient way to open the package, so I just sliced one end off and hoped for the best. The Teese that came out was... uninspiring at best. It has more or less exactly the same texture as the Velveeta that comes in the long rectangular box. Yuckers. It's also bright orange, unlike our other two contenders. I had a bite of it and wanted to make my mouth belong to some other person. To me, it tastes like the cheese in Handisnacks... which is quite all right, I loved Handisnacks back in the day... with a strong after taste of bleu cheese. What? What the hell, Teese? NO! Between the bad texture and the bad taste, I would not not not recommend this as an eating out of the package cheeze.
Cheezly - "Mature White Cheddar" - it sounds like a singles ad, right? Mature White Cheddar (vegan) seeks Vegan Lady for love and affection. Something like that. Initially, I felt trepidation re: Cheezly. It looks almost identical to Sheesh, but its texture is radically different. When I went to cut it, I discovered that it is all crumblylike. Nooo! The packaging is okay and very similar to Sheesh, but it's not resealable! Noooo! Damn you, Cheezly. On the other hand, maybe they expect you to eat it all at once. I think that maybe I could. Cheezly actually TASTES GOOD directly out of the package. I like it, it has a really cheddary flavor. It reminds me of the time that my husband made cheddar a couple of years ago, before I was vegan. I can't give Cheezly a million stars here or anything, though, because while I adore the flavor, the uncooked texture is W-E-I-R-D. It's SPONGY. Cheeze should not be spongy. That's just... strange.
How did I like these all cooked? Gasp! You'll have to tune in tomorrow to find out!