Before we begin, some background and a confession: Before my husband and I became vegan, I was the biggest cheese whore. Well, if not the biggest, in the top ten for sure. I grew up in Finland, where we eat a lot of cheese. In fact, cheese and cream were my mom’s favorite things to use in cooking and cheese was featured at virtually every meal. So when I became vegan, I naturally said the infamous sentence: “But what will I do without cheese?”
Fast forward to today. After many years of – let’s just admit it – not such great vegan cheese options, we are now living in a true golden age of vegan cheese, and the singularly best brand out there (based on my exhaustive research of likely eating every vegan cheese ever made) is Miyoko’s.
I loved Miyoko’s cheese even before she had a commercially available cheese line. I used her Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook as a culinary bible. How much do I love Miyoko Schinner? Let’s just say I work in Hollywood, and am used to meeting celebrities as part of my work. But meeting Miyoko at PETA’s 35th Anniversary Gala in 2015 left me admittedly star-struck, something for which my husband still makes fun of me.
All right, let’s focus. Miyoko’s offers a dozen different cheeses, each impressive to the point of being magical. Most of her cheeses are wheels that come in varying degrees of sharpness or creaminess, some presented coated in herbs, one even wrapped in a real fig leaf. Trying to pick favorites is an admittedly daunting task, but here we go. In order:
1. Black Ash
This striking cheese is coated with a thin layer of ash for a midnight-black surface. It is as delicious as it is unique — a perfect centerpiece to any cheese plate. Tangy, sharp and mouth-watering, I have at least three of these in our fridge at any given time. A shortage would be devastating.
2. Sharp Farmhouse
Miyoko’s farmhouse comes in two varieties: sharp and smoked. While both are excellent, the sharp is among the very top in the entire line for me. I love aged and tangy cheeses, and this reminds me of a classic European sharp cheese.
3. Rustic Alpine
Very close to the sharp farmhouse some respects, but a bit more creamy and mellow in notes, this is my favorite everyday cheese. As in: I literally eat this every day, starting my morning most often with Rustic Alpine on toast.
4. Garlic and Herb
Of the several herb varieties to choose from in Miyoko’s line, this is my personal favorite—one of the originals, and a perfectly crafted balance between the herbs and cheese. The primary herbal note is tarragon, with just a hint of garlic to follow. This is a luscious creamy cheese wheel that pairs beautifully with the black ash on a cheese plate. I’ve been known to have this for breakfast also. Including today.
A great Mozzarella was something long missing from vegan offerings. It’s no surprise Miyoko knocked it out of the park with this one, too – great texture and flavor. This is perfect for a classic Margherita pizza, but let’s not stop there. If my husband let me, every dinner at our house would start with a caprese salad featuring this cheese. (It did for about a week once until he put a stop to it – he was over basil). In any case, it’s really that impressive. For a twist on the traditional caprese, add watermelon slices alongside the tomatoes and be amazed (Thank you, Little Pine for the inspiration). The mozzarella also comes in a smoked variety, which you’ll want to try on a pesto pizza – another addictive revelation.
So there you have it: Our top five. Whichever flavors you buy, however, you truly can’t go wrong.