There are some cheeses vegans mention as the hardest to have given up during the move away from dairy, and Halloumi seemed to be the most frequently mentioned. It was definitely one of my favourites, it has to be said.
Trying lots of different cheese alternatives filled me with despair at the start of my vegan journey. The often pungent aroma when opening a pack would turn my stomach and the use of coconut in many varieties didn’t work for me. Discovering local vegan artisans Tyne Chease was a high point, then Tesco seemed to improve its own range with the introduction of Red Leicester slices which melted fantastically well.
I wondered whether my sudden improved tolerance of the vegan options was because my palate was changing after months away from cows milk and the like, and perhaps it did contribute. I hadn’t been overly keen on Violife at the start but found I quite liked the Smoked version when making toasted sandwiches and Quiches. With a re-brand and some new flavours released – including the announcement of a much anticipated Halloumi – the company were clearly positioning themselves as one of the biggest producers in the country.
Being honest, we were not big fans of the Cranberry After Dinner and Blu (both £2.50 per block). They were both strong smelling and very sweet tasting. Even the appearance was unappealing. This was not leaving me excited about arrival of the Mediterranean Style Block.
Visiting local vegan shop Alternative Stores I discovered a Halloumi alternative created by Nutcrafter Creamery and had to give it a try. Its appearance did not fill me with confidence as it looked nothing like I’d anticipated. It was also on the expensive side, but so is Tyne Chease for the cost per gram.
I cooked it in a pan much in the same way I’d cook the dairy version but found it didn’t ‘crust’ up. It was similar in texture and taste to the Camembert I made using cashews in an earlier post on this very website. I was very disappointed.
When it finally arrived in UK stores there was a fanfare on social media. At £2.95 per pack the cost is not much higher than some brands of the dairy version you will find in the supermarket.
Inside was two blocks and I decided to do a trial run in the griddle pan before sacrificing it all. I wasn’t sure whether it would react in the same as the original.
Discovering it held its shape under the heat and seeing the griddle lines made me feel like Violife were onto a winner.
While it lacks the ‘squeaky’ texture and saltiness of Halloumi, it is by far the best vegan cheese we have tried in this house. The taste was more like Cheddar and the mouth feel was similar to grilled polenta, but when the nay-saying (non-vegan) Teen even asks for seconds you know you’re onto a winner.
This is going to be a sell-out for a while so when you see it grab a packet. You won’t be disappointed!
Thanks for reading,
Fancy making your own cheese? Check out our recipe for making your own Halloumi here.