Daiya Dairy-Free Swiss Cheese Slices

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Daiya makes a lot of dairy-free products and they’re not all created equal. I like to review as many of them as I can, so you’ll know which ones are worth eating and which aren’t.

When I saw Daiya’s Swiss Style Slices, I was optimistic. I love the Cheddar Style Slices in this same product line. Swiss was one of my favorite cheeses back in my dairy-eating days — it’s the only cheese I would want in a turkey, pastrami, or corned beef sandwich. I started having fantasies of being able to eat chicken cordon bleu and double-decker Reubens.

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I tried not to be bothered by the appearance of this “cheeze.” Its uniform roundness and lack of distinctive holes that Swiss cheese is known for make this stuff look like it was manufactured on an assembly line. It reminds me of Oscar Mayer bologna, that round “mystery meat” cold cut that I loved as a child. I used to fold the circle into quarters and strategically take bites out of it so when I opened it back up, it would look like a snowflake. Ah, fun with processed foods.

But I digress. Daiya’s Swiss “cheeze” unfortunately tastes as artificial as it looks. It melts as nicely as Daiya’s cheddar slices, but it has a decidedly weird, chemical aftertaste. It was so unappealing I threw out the package after trying only one slice, in a ham-and-Swiss omelet.

So much for the dairy-free chicken cordon bleu. For now.

If you’d like to read my other reviews of Daiya products, click on the Daiya tag below.

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Cassell’s Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

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I consider myself a burger snob, and Cassell’s Hamburgers, an upscale lunch counter in Koreatown (downstairs from the Hotel Normandie), is one of the few burger restaurants that I actually get excited about. Not just because their beef patties are flavorful, juicy, and cooked to order, but because they have vegan cheese! That means I can get a dairy-free Patty Melt — a burger on rye bread with grilled onions and American cheese, a classic that I love not just because it’s got my name in it.

But Cassell’s is also known for its delicious homemade pies, and I was super-excited to try its vegan (and gluten-free) pie: the chocolate peanut butter pie. You can never go wrong with the chocolate and peanut butter combo. Even E.T. couldn’t resist it.

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The chocolate filling in this pie is the best thing about it. It’s silky-smooth and rich. The server didn’t know what it was made of, but I assume it wasn’t soy-based because I had no trouble digesting it. The peanut butter frosting and chopped nuts were delish as well.

Really, the only fail was the gluten-free crust. It was hard, dense, and thin — almost like a cracker. Not flaky like a pie crust should be. The server told me it’s made from oats soaked in apple juice. There you go.

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I get annoyed when restaurants offer only one “alternative” dessert, lumping all dietary restrictions together. For people like me who are lactose-intolerant but eat gluten, I would like a pie that’s dairy-free but has a regular crust made of flour.

That said, Cassell’s does have more dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian options than most burger joints and diners like it. So I’ll keep going for those dairy-free cheeseburgers and hope they add more dairy-free desserts to their menu.

CASSELL’S HAMBURGERS, 3600 W. 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90020

 

Milkadamia Non-Dairy Creamer

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After enjoying a pretty good dairy-free latte made with macadamia nut milk at G&B Coffee, I had high hopes for Milkadamia, a creamer that has a great name and an even better slogan (“Moo Is Moot”), made from a blend of macadamia nuts and coconut cream.

It has a slightly nutty flavor, not too heavy on the coconuts. The problem was with the consistency. I thought coconut cream, as opposed to coconut milk, would make this stuff nice and thick. Unfortunately, no. It was disappointingly thin.

The real deal breaker, though, was the little white flecks that made it look like it had curdled. These little bits are natural in coconut milk/cream. But they’re just not appetizing. Who wants to drink this?

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I tried Milkadamia in coffee, tea, iced tea — hoping in vain that it would fare better in a different beverage. But in all of them, it was thin and filled with bits.

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So, despite the funny name and hip packaging, Milkadamia is not the magic non-dairy creamer I’ve been dreaming of. Perhaps their macadamia products that don’t contain coconut are better, but after my experience with this creamer, I doubt I’ll try them.