Fresh nut-zarella! ‘Vegan cheese’ store serves pseudo-dairy in W’burg

Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Say, “Dairy-free cheese!”

Williamsburg’s new so-called “vegan cheese” store, Brooklyn’s first, opened in May serving up surprising, nut-based simulations of the cow-derived staple. A wife-and-husband team runs the store and the pair say they consider their fare to be an equivalent, not an imitation, of actual cheese.

“We don’t pretend it tastes exactly like cheese, but the natural process gives it the same cheese flavor,” said co-owner Veronica Schwartz. “It’s just another kind of cheese, like goat or sheep, but animal-product free.”

The couple opened the shop after a decade of selling their specialty wares wholesale and said that the brick-and-mortar business has been a hit with local animal lovers and raw food enthusiasts.

“I like, no, love that a lot of people come in from the neighborhood,” Schwartz said.

Browsing the case at Dr. Cow, shoppers won’t find the Camembert or Gruyere available down the street at Bedford Cheese Shop. Instead, the faux fromagerie offers colorful wheels of organic cashew “cheese” flavored with blue green algae, kale, or dulse flakes. Brazil and macadamia nuts also serve as the basis for counterfeit curds. A less-than-quarter-pound wheel will set you back $8.15, but Schwartz says she and hubby Pablo Castro are keeping the prices as low as possible.

“We want everybody to have access,” Schwartz said.

The concoctions are a far cry from the hydrogenated-oil-based science experiments on the shelves at Whole Foods Market. Dr. Cow’s pseudo-dairy blocks are made of raw ingredients, including imported Indonesian cashews, which the pair say are top-quality.

The process that goes into Dr. Cow’s bogus bovine products is similar to that which creates actual cheese. First, the make-believe-cheese mongers blend cashews into cashew milk and mix it with bacteria. Then they age the “cheese” for at east a month. The exception is the “cream cheese,” which they serve fresh for optimal richness.

The couple follow a raw, vegan diet and say they make all the food themselves to ensure quality.

“This is the way we live and the food we eat,” Schwartz said. “I would never serve something I wouldn’t eat myself.”

Both vegans and avid dairy consumers buy the stuff, Schwartz says. The shop also offers nut milk, desserts, pastries, and dietary supplements.

Dr. Cow “vegan cheese” store [93 S. Sixth St. between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street in Williamsburg, (718) 486–5919, www.dr-cow.com]. Monday–Sunday, 11 am–7 pm.

The cashew plate, please: Dr. Cow co-owner Veronica Schwartz flaunts some of her faux-dairy products.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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