In the heart of Hollywood, Crossroads Kitchen’s gorgeous dining room fills nightly with the stylish crowd you’d expect to find in any trending nightspot. But at Crossroads, every dish served up is plant-based. Taking a step apart from most health-conscious eateries in town, many of which rely on a more casual, minimalistic look, Crossroads has created a high-end, but cozy, bar-centric space that feels in step with any of the scene-heavy restaurants in town. Designed by Studio Collective, the same team behind The Bungalow and Teddy’s at the Roosevelt, it’s no wonder.
At the helm of Crossroads Kitchen is vegan chef Tal Ronnen, the mastermind behind Oprah’s own 21-Day cleanse and Ellen Degeneres’ healthy, all-natural wedding festivities. He’s also author of the New York Times Bestseller, The Conscious Cook.
Just this year, Chef Tal was part of a small culinary team that came together to create Kite Hill, a line of nut-based vegan cheeses. These artisanally-made nut cheeses are an exciting new option for vegans and cheese-lovers alike – the perfect solution for vegans who love to entertain, but hate to freak out guests with anything too unusual.
We asked Chef Tal to build a completely vegan cheese plate for us that readers can make at home. A cheese plate and a bottle of wine make for a perfectly cozy holiday evening at home with friends. Believe us when we say that these nut-based cheeses can hold their own against any of their dairy-based counterparts!
Find each of the cheeses, their tasting notes and pairings below. The cheeses can be found at most Whole Foods’ cheese departments and are served as pictured by the chef with fruited toast, sun-dried grapes, marcona almonds (a Chalkboard obsession) and fig jam. Construct the plate at home or make reservations at Crossroads Kitchen to enjoy the cheeses at one of our favorite healthy hotspots.
Chef Tal’s Vegan Kite Hill Cheese Plate
Soft Fresh Cassucio
Vegan Details: Almond milk, macadamia milk, salt, enzymes, cultures
Tasting notes: Floral and aromatic smell, rich and robust flavor, available year-round
Pair with: Barbaresco (Nebbiolo)
Truffle, Dill & Chive Cassucio
Vegan Details: Almond milk, macadamia milk, salt, truffle oil, enzymes, dill pollen, dried chives, cultures
Tasting Notes: Earthy scent with black truffle after tones, complex flavor with garlic overtones, available year-round
Pair with: Extra dry white wine variety
Soft Ripened White Alder
Vegan details: Almond milk, macadamia milk, salt, enzymes, cultures
Tasting notes: Subtle, slightly yeasty and complex aroma, Buttery flavor – mushroomy and balanced, available year round
Pair with: Dry Creek Valley (California) Chardonnay
Plate slices of each cheese with your choice of bread or crackers, fruit, nuts and jam. Chef Tal plates these three cheeses with fruited toast, sun-dried grapes, marcona almonds and fig jam.
This sounds AMAZING, and I’m so happy that a vegan restaurant is so popular (not to mention that there such a creative vegan chef giving vegan food a good name!).
However, I doubt that these non-dairy cheeses would replace cheese in someone’s diet. My guess is that they taste and feel very different from dairy cheese. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not delicious and lovely to serve to guests. It’s just that if someone goes in thinking it’ll be identical to cheese, it’s not going to happen. But they do look very tasty!
Now if only my town had a Whole Foods within 100 miles. The closest thing we have to a health food store here is the sad “produce section” at the local Walmart (it’s like four boxes with a couple assorted fruits and vegetables in them, which sit on a mostly empty shelf next to the battery section).
What the fuck is fruited toast?
Basically, a loaf of bread with nuts and dried fruit baked in.
Isn’t a “sun-dried grape” a raisin?
You’d think so, Sally, but taste one of these and we’re sure you’ll taste the difference!