3 of a Kind: Vegan Cheese Boards Upping Their Game

3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.

Long perceived by many as a bland imitator of its dairy-based cousin, vegan cheese is being recast in a far more savory light by innovative chefs across the country. Their creative endeavors in the kitchen are upping the plant-based-cheese game at grocery stores and top restaurants alike. Read on to get the rundown on three spots churning out vegan cheese boards that could easily be mistaken for real-deal dairy.

Crossroads Kitchen, Los Angeles

With a resume that includes stints working for Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and other celebrities, Tal Ronnen is known as vegan chef to the stars. His passion for the cuisine inspired him to open not only a vegan restaurant, Crossroads Kitchen, but also a dairy-free cheese company, Kite Hill.

Here, old-school cheese-making methods are used to produce vegan options with almond milk as the primary ingredient. So successful have been the results that Kite Hill’s vegan cheeses are the first nondairy options to be carried at the Whole Foods cheese counter. They’re also showcased in Crossroads Kitchen’s cheese plate. The current iteration features a soft-ripened selection similar to Camembert, along with truffle-dill soft fresh cheese and a Boursin-style option that’s made in-house from Kite Hill ricotta.

00 + Co., New York City

Pizza isn’t the first food that leaps to mind as being raw-vegan-friendly, but it’s the specialty at this plant-based pizzeria in the East Village. The kitchen uses nondairy cheeses made from sprouted nuts that are fermented and individually flavored. Get a taste of them on the Flora Artisanal Cheese Board, composed of a tempting trio: smoked Gouda, mixed-herb ricotta and white truffle. A stack of herbed flatbread completes the plate.

Blossoming Lotus, Portland, Ore.

Portland’s leading plant-based restaurant is leading the pack with dairy-free cheese, as well. Its cheese plate boasts an impressive spread: three housemade cheeses, seasonal fruit, arugula, Marcona almonds, olives and a rotating lineup of chutneys (right now it’s peach-thyme). Currently, cashew-based mozzarella, cheddar and chevre are the stars of the show.

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Photos courtesy of Crossroads Kitchen, Karen Liang and Blossoming Lotus

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