When we asked Rachael Rogan if she’d like to be our roving vegan reporter, she jumped at the cheese chance.
As a vegan with four years under my belt, I’m fully aware of how lucky I am – compared to those who have been in it for the long haul, we now have a huge range of healthy, delicious meals at our disposal.
However, the one thing that we all agree on is that vegan cheese is EXTREMELY hit and miss. You frequently get either a great consistency with a bland taste, or something that comes close to dairy-made cheese in taste, but it is either too crumbly, to slimy or worse…
I approached the recent Vegan Cheese Night, hosted by The Vardo at Castle Road’s Papillon Coffee House, with cautious optimism. I’d heard good things about Nadia’s selection of cheeses, but vegans are so desperate to find the golden fleece of realistic vegan cheese that we will throw ourselves enthusiastically into the path of anything promising.
Myself and my date for the evening, another recent vegan convert, arrived early, such was our excitement, and were greeted by Nadia who was relaxed and welcoming. Papillon is a great little coffee house with a thriving daytime trade, and it lended itself perfectly for a cosy, a la mode evening event. It managed to feel spacious yet cosy, and as tickets for the event sold out quickly, we had wondered if it would be crowded.
However, despite its popularity, Nadia had put the groundwork in, and as well as delicious food, the service was excellent. The waiting team for the evening made sure that we were served quickly, and although there was clearly a lot of paddling beneath the surface, the effect was serene control.
But what about the cheeses..? We had a cheese board with a cheddar, stilton, camembert and feta, served with a selection of crackers, fruit and nuts to complement the flavours. The presentation was superb, and the portions were exactly right for a cheeseboard for two.
There was no drinks license for the evening, but we took along a bottle of vegan wine and paid a very reasonable corkage charge, and we also had the option to order sides, and a dessert. We ordered a bowl of feta and olives, and some hummus with flatbreads, all of which complemented the main cheeseboard perfectly. (We decided against a dessert in favour of a drink at 2 Like Us bistro next door!).
And the cheese? Delicious. The cheddar was of a great consistency and had a great tang that worked beautifully with the crusty bread. The feta had a citron aftertaste which was delicious with the grapes. The blueberries brought out the flavour of the blue cheese, and my favourite was the camembert, which when paired with the walnuts had a lovely creamy texture and taste.
We’ll definitely be back!