The world of dairy-free cheese can be a scary place, awash with paltry substitutions for a product that is firmly entrenched in the addicted hearts and guts of the non-veg masses. Thankfully, Dr. Cow-a four-year-old, Brooklyn—based company—has brought art back to the cheese-making process, and the resulting nut cheeses are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Rich, full-bodied wheels that would find themselves at home on an ornate serving platter at le plus chic cheese-and-wine cocktail party are now a reality for vegetarians. Like many traditional dairy cheeses, Dr. Cow offers layers of flavor elements that unveil themselves as the cheese softens in your mouth. From smoky macadamia to the milder cashew, each variety in the Dr. Cow line has the luxurious quality of cheese nailed, and comes wrapped in simple wax paper with cleanly designed labels, which gives it a fresh-from-the-specialty-market feel. With a product line expanded to include multiple aged- and fresh-cheese flavors, Dr. Cow actually began as a granola company, producing amaranth-based organic granola.
Founders Veronica Schwartz and Pablo Castro-who moved from Argentina to NYC seeking a larger, more open-minded market for their products-transitioned to a raw-foods diet four years ago. It was partly through incorporating raw-cooking techniques, such as dehydration and fermenting, that they came to develop their cheeses. “We researched and studied local and traditional ingredients in order to offer consumers food with high nutritional value that was also sustainable for our environment,” says Schwartz. The concern for quality has come to delicious fruition in what can honestly be described as the first gourmet vegan cheese. By adding bacterial cultures to their various nut—milk bases—the same process by which dairy cheese is made-Schwartz and Castro have revamped centuries-old methods with decidedly modern results. “We think that today, vegan consumers don’t have a real, artisan choice of cheese that they can incorporate in their daily diet. This product opens up a new set of possibilities for them,” says Castro.