Cheese seems to be one of the most challenging things to give up when going plant based, or at least it’s what I hear oftentimes when I talk to friends and family that play with the idea. It’s creamy, it’s fatty, it’s delicious and all of that makes it addictive. But let’s face the facts, the plant world can definitely compete with creamy, fatty and delicious and Michaela Grob, an Austrian born plant based cheese connaisseur, is proving it with her wide selection of truly addictive vegan cheeses.
Michaela’s shop opened just a couple of weeks ago, and beside selling her own as well as a variety of east and west coast nut based cheeses, she also sells freshly baked local bread, carefully sources crackers, a plethora of spreads, jams and chutneys that go with her cheeses as well as homemade butter and – vegan charcuterie! Riverdel, the name is a combination of Michaela’s pets names (her dog is River and her cat is Fidel) is a beautiful oasis of culinary deliciousness right around the corner from Prospect park. The shop also offers a variety of sandwiches using the cheeses and condiments and tastings/pairings are in the makings as well.
I had the pleasure to meet Michaela and ask her a couple of questions about plant based cheese, her beautiful store and and her plans for the future. I also purchased some goodies and was blown away by the taste and texture! 🙂
When did you become vegan?
Sometime 4 or 5 years ago; it was a gradual development so I don’t recall the excact moment when I hadn’t eaten dairy or eggs for a while…
Do you ever miss animal based cheese?
No! There is so much good cheese out there…I really couldn’t say that I miss “real” cheese…
How did the idea about opening a vegan cheese store come about?
When I became vegan, I started making my own cheese at home because it wasn’t easy to find good cheese in the shops. So I started looking around to find vegan cheeses, ordered them online, had friends in other cities pick them up for me at a place I heard of that carried some vegan cheese,…started making my own as well! At one point I said to my husband “I wish there was a shop that I can just go to and know that they have a variety of cheese and much more…without having to check the labels to make sure it’s vegan”. I guess that’s when the seed was planted….
Are you still making your own cheeses at home?
I’ve been making my own cheese for years and we’re also making our own cheese in house at the shop. We just started making our first batch last weekend…more to come!
How would you convince a dairy cheese fanatic to switch to plant based cheese?
By keeping an open mind and telling them it’s just a different kind of deliciousness. At this point, it’s not anymore about “imitation” cheese for a lot of people, but it’s just about good food and good cheese.
Are there any health benefits to plant based cheese in your opinion?
There is a lot of literature and research out there about avoiding dairy; and a lot of people that I speak with in the shop express that they just feel better when not indulging in dairy products. So I’d say there is probably something to it.
What’s your favorite brand and type of cheese?
That’s a really tough question, because it really depends on what I try to do with a cheese. Can I say that all the brands we carry in the shop are my favorite… 🙂
How do you like eating your cheese the most? (with what bread, condiments etc?)
With a good cracker, and apple and a nice glass of wine….
What are your long term plans for your business?
Being a place where new cheese brands can test the market, being able to educate people and show them what great dairy-free cheese are out there and helping people make it easier to live dairy free….
Thank you Michaela! 🙂
820 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, New York, 11238