Loooong overdue (yeah yeah, so I’ve been busy, what with clients and starting seeds for Spring and holidays and all, jeeze, give a girl a break ;-), herein is my review and observations from the Delisi Vegan Cheese Smackdown in Chicago on December 13th.
Note: It appears that Delisi’s is temporarily closed to resolve some building permit issues left over from the previous owner. Too bad they have to deal with the city of Chicago, it could be decades before this crooked city approves anything. I really hope they can get the city issues resolved. Delisi’s makes THE BEST vegan pizza in Chicago.
Just a reminder of what was at stake: compare the two vegan cheese front runners (Daiya and Teese brand vegan cheeses) head to head on traditional Chicago-style deep-dish pizza as only Delisi’s can do. The folks at Delisi’s pulled out all stops and arranged side-by-side comparisons using Daiya and Teese on 2 each of:
- Hawaiian-style with pineapple, tomatoes and Upton’s bacon
- Vegetarian classic
- Classic with veggies and Upton’s sausage
- Classic cheese with Upton’s pepperoni
- Plain cheese
- Mexican style with jalapeños and olives
This was a great opportunity to try a lot of pizza toppings AND compare our faves with both Daiya and Teese. To make sure we all had room to try several types, Delisi’s cut the slices narrower than normal and restocked the buffet three times.
The two cheese are made from vastly different ingredients yet neither belies the expected flavors of the raw goods. Teese is made with soy yet tastes nothing like soy, at least to me. Daiya is reportedly made from Cassava root. Since I have no idea what Cassava root tastes like, I can’t say how much Daiya resembles it. However, I WILL say that both of these cheeses are the closest to their intended flavors as ever acheived by a vegan cheese.
Teese in it’s retail form is frightening close to an authentic buffalo-style mozzarela cheese. Daiya comes shredded in an “Italian Blend” flavor that actually does taste like a nice dry pizza cheese. I can envision using them both but for different reasons. On pizza, I’m leaning toward the Daiya because it’s a little skunkier in flavor and the melted texture is more to my liking. I would likely use the Teese for dishes that I am not melting, like Caprese salads or sandwich slices where a smooth silky-smooth texture is critical.
Both the Daiya and Teese melted very well but the Teese did become cottage cheese like in texture as it cooled. The Daiya stayed melted longer and for some reason, never firmed back up when cooled (which is weird in itself). Neither acted exactly like real cheese but they are both the best vegan alternatives currently on the market. And I’m not entirely certain I care for 100% authentic action in a vegan cheese. I like the stretch of Daiya and I like to smooth silky texture of unmelted Teese.
Side Note: Unrelated to the pizza test, I have used both cheeses in creating a vegan macaroni and cheese with interesting results. Daiya tastes better but the stretch prevents it from easily coating the macaroni. Teese coats the macaroni more thoroughly but the cheddar flavor doesn’t really taste like cheddar to me. I have yet to try a blend of the two on mac ‘n cheese.
There were several no shows (shame on you for reserving already limited seats and making me turn folks away, you know who you are) but we still had a great turn out of 36 people. Delisi’s took a silent vote by collecting preferences on slips of paper to tally up later in the hopes of determining whether to carry both brands on the menu. A slight majority preferred Daiya over Teese and so Delisi’s is carrying both for the time being. In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that the folks at Chicago SoyDairy (makers of Teese) were present and brought many friends, which accounted for 15 of the 36 attendees. I’m not saying the voting was rigged, just that the numbers are interesting.
Dessert: more than a footnote
Chicago SoyDairy donated three tubs of their famous and fabulous Temptations® Ice Cream in peppermint, pineapple and vanilla dark cherry. All were huge hits, especially the pineapple. Unfortunately, none of these flavors are available in retail tubs. A shame since I know I’d become totally addicted to the pineapple. Well, perhaps that’s a good thing.
One More Thing
As a surprise for The Urban Housewife and myself, Delisi’s made an awesome vegan Panzarotti for us to review, which is pretty much a deep fried calzone. We took it to a table of other vegan friends and portioned it off to share for a wider range of opinions. It was amazing! They filled it with Teese mozzarella, tomatoes and Upton’s vegan sausage and wow! They definitely need to add it to the menu.
Just a reminder if you’re interested, I wrote a much longer, in-depth review of Delisi’s pizza back in November. That review has a plethora of links to various product sites. Knock yourself out.
Ok, really, only ONE more thing:
The fine folks over at Chicago SoyDairy have a coupon going right now where you can get a buy one get one free so long as you’re buying two different flavors. GREAT idea to get folks to try their various flavors. MY recommendation: the classic mozzarella and the cheddar. Here’s the link to the coupon.