Each week, my husband and I taste a new vegan product on our podcast. You’d think we’d have companies sending us free stuff to try all the time, but actually no. Because while we love highlighting and supporting great vegan companies and products by shouting them out, we’re also flatly honest when we don’t like something or feel it’s subpar. But people occasionally still send us stuff.
Last week, we received a complimentary shipment of vegan charcuterie by a brand new company called Renegade Food. We tasted it on the show, and it was truly so extraordinary that I decided to write about here.
Now, if you don’t know what charcuterie is, I’m gonna tell you: It’s basically salami, cured meat, that sort of thing. Based in Sonoma, California, Renegade cooks and smokes all their plant-based charcuterie from organic ingredients. They sent us three flavors: Smoky Soppressata, Sweet Toscana, and Spicy Chorizo. All came packaged in beautiful wrapping that looked very gourmet. So, how did they taste?
Let me first say that I’ve never tasted a vegan product like this before. Sure, there are tons of vegan sausages on the market, and even some vegan pepperoni, but this replicates the kind of dried, cured meat you’d find on a fancy wine and cheese board. This is the stuff you see next to all the fancy cheeses and jams and olives at Whole Foods.
Slicing into this stuff, you notice right away that the appearance is spot-on, down to the marbling you see in pepperoni and salami. The texture and mouth-feel are both excellent.
All three varieties were superb, but my husband’s favorite was the Smoky Soppressata. This is the closest veganism has ever come to traditional pepperoni. There’s a delicious, deep, smoky flavor that is accentuated by cracked black peppercorn. I would pair this with Miyoko’s Black Ash cheese and sourdough. But I’d also recommend using this as a pepperoni topping for pizza!
My own favorite was the Sweet Toscana. I was truly blown away by its complexity. The variety of Italian spices blended with an unmistakable fennel note make this incredibly flavorful. I might go with a light and creamier cheese for this – like the vegan brie by Jules. Miyoko’s Garlic and Herb cheese might also make a great pairing. You could do slices like the vegan provolone by Follow Your Heart or the Creamy Original Chao Cheese by Field Roast.
Finally, we tried the Spicy Chorizo. I cannot handle spice so I had my husband taste it first. After letting me know it wasn’t too hot, I tried it. While not my favorite of the three, it’s still amazing. The smokiness on this one comes from chipotle and paprika. I would say this was light to medium in terms of the heat. I could see dicing this up and using in an Arrabbiata sauce. This would also pair well on a fresh baked French baguette and some soft vegan cheese – maybe the cream cheese by Violife.
In terms of wine pairings, all of these could go with either red or white in my opinion. More specifically, I’d pair the Smoky Soppressata with a lightly oaked chardonnay or a peppery pinot noir. For the Sweet Toscana, I’d suggest a dry Riesling or the right sauvignon blanc; for red perhaps a fruit-forward cab or zinfandel. For the Spicy Chipotle, definitely tempranillo for red and for a white, it might be nice to try a dry, crisp pinot grigio to wash down the heat.
If you’ve made it this far, I know you’re intrigued! If you want to try these (and I highly suggest you do), you can pre-order them from the Renegade Food site. Hopefully they’ll also be coming soon to a store near you!