If you pay attention to the world of vegan food products through blogs, instagram or magazines, chances are good that you have heard of Kite Hill. This vegan cheese company has caused all sorts of buzz! Often being described as a “game-changer”; the company’s exclusive partnership with Whole Foods made their cheeses a rarity that for awhile could only be found in the west coast. This only seemed to make the product seem ever more alluring to those seeking the ultimate vegan cheese. Even Food and Wine did a story on Kite Hill’s development process, and the painstaking journey to find just the right enzymes to create a flavor profile deserving of the name artisanal cheese. Co-owned by vegan celebrity chef extraordinaire, Tal Ronnen, this vegan cheese definitely has culinary clout behind it.
So when I heard that Kite Hill had finally hit Dallas, I had to go grab some immediately! I grabbed my vegan bestie, and we rushed over to Whole Foods Lakewood, where we found Kite Hill nestled in the regular cheese area. I decided to pick up Soft Fresh Original and Soft Ripened. I’m not sure why the packaging has changed, or why they no longer have fancy names like White Alder, or Cassucio. I was a little sad about it, honestly. Still, I couldn’t wait to go home and try them!
We grabbed some Mariner crackers and set out the cheeses, and marveled at the visual textures. I first tried the Soft Fresh Original. Almost immediately, the flavor reminded me a little bit of Teese‘s Mozzarella, but mostly tasted like cottage cheese. The cheese had a soft grainy texture, and was not at all as smooth as I expected. Even though Kite Hill is not highly processed, I have to say that it sort of tasted like it was. It also didn’t have a strong flavor of a culture or fermentation. I could see using it as a filling for ravioli or other pasta filling and it may be pleasant baked into quiches or pastries. Still, it is an expensive ingredient if you chose to use it this way.
When I took a bite of the Soft Ripened, I was hit with a really pleasant intense buttery flavor. The texture of the dried ripened outer layer giving way to a rich and silky smooth brie-like consistency was amazing. That is, until the aftertaste kicked in. It left behind a distinctly unpleasant woody, dirty and bitter taste in my mouth, and I was very apprehensive about putting it in my mouth again. My friend and boyfriend felt much the same. I couldn’t seem to find anything that I had on hand that paired well with this cheese. Until I paired it with blackberry preserves, which were sweet enough to cover the bitter aftertaste, but still let the buttery flavor shine through.
All in all, I’m sad to say that Kite Hill simply did not live up to all the hype surrounding it for me, and I’m not at all sure I would buy it again. I definitely would not recommend this to those new to vegan cheese and would instead recommend Punk Rawk Labs or Treeline‘s soft cheeses. Oh well, at least I have Miyoko Schinner’s cheese to look foward to trying now. 🙂
Have you tried Kite Hill? If so, what do YOU think about it? I’d love to know!