I buy my favorite vegan Gouda and Mozarella cheeses from a local market, the Amish Market West on 9th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets in Manhattan. When I first started buying dairy free cheese there, they actually had labels on their cheese bins specifying the ingredients in their cheeses, both dairy and non-dairy. In this way, I was able to determine that their cheddar and jalapeno soy cheeses contained caseine, but the gouda and mozzarella did not (since then, the store has put in a new open cheese refrigerator and they unfortunately did not transfer the ingredient lists to the shelves of this new refrigerator).
Why do I love these cheeses so much more than any of the brand-name vegan cheeses I purchased recently? Put simply, the Amish Market cheeses are far superior in both flavor and texture to any other vegan cheeses I have tasted. They taste good enough that I slice them into pieces and eat them on baguette slices with salamis and I am absolutely satisfied – I don’t have any of that momentary twinge of revulsion I feel when I taste other vegan cheeses. And they are firm enough that I can slice them very thin or grate them and they hold their shape, but they also melt quickly and smoothly in a grilled cheese sandwich or cheese sauce – there is none of the grittiness or chalkiness I found in most other vegan cheeses.
The only brand-name cheese that comes close for me is Daiya. Their Havarti and Cheddar wedges are a little soft, but the flavor is pretty good and the texture when melted is very creamy. However, if given the choice, I would pick the Amish Market cheeses over Daiya. Daiya’s cheeses all have this signature tangy flavor – I’m not sure if it is the vegan lactic acid or what ingredient produces this flavor, but it is present in all their cheeses, and if I eat too much Daiya, I start to get tired of that tanginess. But I never get tired of the flavor of Amish Market Gouda and Mozzarella!