For people on the fence about going vegan, cheese “is the last frontier,” says Michael Jantz Moon. In other words, it’s the one food people fear they’ll miss too much. Which is why he and Leah Curran Moon, who co-own DC Vegan, embarked on a mammoth tasting with their staff beginning last August.
You can taste the results at the restaurant’s new cheese shop next to the register in the upstairs deli, which offers a curated selection of plant-based cheeses that mimic mozzarella, brie, sharp cheddar—basically any cheese you love and maybe miss.
The crew tried more than 100 cheeses, some of which weren’t so great. But the ones that made the cut “really hit it out of the park,” says Leah Curran Moon. Sommelier Sargent Nelson was a large part of the process. (“Big taste buds on this guy,” Michael Jantz Moon says.) All of the cheeses they offer are aged and cultured—which makes all the difference.
All the cheeses are made from cashews, which give vegan cheese a more cheeselike character. Cheeses they chose include Barn Cat (a black ash product similar to a blue cheese), Maverick rounds (which is brie-inspired), a fresh mozzarella, a sundried tomato & herb fromage, a trufflehound made with genuine black truffles, a cracked pepper dill hard cheese, a sharp cheddar, and a smoked gouda.
“We can barely keep it on the shelf,” Leah Curran Moon says of the cheese. One woman comes in every day to buy their brie. Another woman from Wisconsin came in and bought every flavor they had available, Michael Jantz Moon says.
The cheeses are sold individually and cost between $12-18 per piece. In the next month, DC Vegan will expand its dining menu to include a cheese board. It will also include the specialty cheeses as a part of its Thanksgiving offerings, and will sell them in gift packages as well.