The nascent vegan cheese market is about to get a big new player.
Tal Ronnen, the vegan celebrity chef who has catered for everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Ellen DeGeneres, is getting ready to launch Kite Hill Cheese Company - promising "artisanal nut milk-based cheeses of remarkable craftsmanship."
According to my source, Kite Hill is the new name of what was formerly known as Jasper Ridge Creamery - a vegan cheese company co-founded by Ronnen in 2011 that never got off the ground. The company has launched a Facebook page highlighting the players behind the scenes, pictures of their upcoming products, and hints of an official website launch later in the week.
"Our products start with our proprietary nut milk, perfected over many months of recipe testing and visits to almond farms throughout the San Joaquin Valley," the site reads. "As there are seasonal fluctuations in the flavors and textures of tree nuts, we custom blend each batch of nut milk for every cheese we make. The nut milk is then pasteurized and inoculated with a naturally occurring enzyme and special lactose-free cultures. This mixture is allowed to coagulate slowly - up to twelve hours - to let the curd fully develop the unique flavor and character that will define each cheese. Finally, the curd are distributed among classic round molds and aged."
As an example of how good this all sounds, here's a description for one of their "launch" cheeses - the Costanoa:
"Costanoa is a semi-soft cheese encrusted with a piquant crust of paprika and fennel pollen. Its texture is smooth and compact, making this cheese excellent for slicing and serving on crackers or fresh baguette rounds. We love to offset Costanoa's buttery, earthy, peppery flavors with a pairing of fresh or caramelized figs."
Fantastic. Tal Ronnen's new vegan restaurant in Los Angeles, Crossroads, has also just launched - so you can expect Kite Hill to appear on the menu. The new eatery is described as ”an upscale, white tablecloth-type eatery serving Ronnen’s Mediterranean small plate vegan menu.” Prices are expected to range between $8 and $14 per plate.
To learn more about Kite Hill, jump here. More information on a launch date and purchasing will be available soon.
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