Depending on your constitution, the kids of Herbivorous Butcher are here to either rankle or delight.
Not content just to be vegan, the bro/sis team of HB are taking matters into their own hands, and nothing is safe from their machinations. Vegan breakfast sausage we can dig. Summer sausage? Maybe. Ham? Insert uncertain emoji here.
But last night they announced they'd be presenting the dining public with a vegan Camembert. Did your head just explode?
First, the real deal: Camembert is one of the most heralded French cheeses with a couple centuries of cheese-making history behind it. It's one of those wonders of the natural world -- nothing but Normandy cow's milk, yeasts, molds, and lots of aging to nudge it along, resulting in the ultimate thing to have with your wine.
The bloomy rind yields to a runny paste when ripe -- stuff that gets described as everything from mushroomy to woodsy to sexual to nutty.
So a couple of vegans are gonna take this on?
Kale Walch says he was craving it -- it's something he's liked since childhood. Strange thing for a kid to enjoy? "I was born this way," says he. (Strange, that is.)
They begin with organic, non-GMO coconut oil that's been refined to remove coconut flavors and aromas. So, if you're in this to indulge, you can do so. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat -- more so than butter, and one tablespoon provides over 13 grams. But you know, like the real thing, enjoy in moderation.
Because it solidifies when cold and melts when warmed, Walch assures us that we can enjoy the spreadability of a true bloomy-rind cheese.
The base of the thing is made of soy milk and flavored with truffle oil to impart that shroominess we so desire in our cheese, as well as a few other secret flavor additions.
And it took a long time to get it figured out. It went from mush to concrete until they got the consistency right.
"It's mostly magic," he tells us. You be the judge.
The stuff (we're still having a tough time calling it cheese, though we'll try to keep an open mind) will be available this weekend at the Linden Hills farmers market, in very limited quantities for around $12 a half wheel. They're also making mozzarella.
"It's a pretty momentous weekend for us," he says in the tone of a man who has gone years without cheese.
Their highly anticipated brick-and-mortar vegan "butcher shop" is set to open in northeast Minneapolis around April of this year.
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