Let's be honest folks--vegan cheese substitutes can be hit or miss. Some of those products you get at Whole Foods might taste alright, but once you nuke 'em they tend to fold instead of melt.
Only a handful of vegan cheeses on the market actually do a decent job emulating real cheese. Follow Your Heart's Vegan Gourmet is pretty good (Pizza by Marco and Whole Foods use it on all of their vegan pizzas), and Spiral Diner uses Chicago Soy Dairy's Teese on their cheesy creations.
But there's a lot of buzz in the vegan community these days about a new melty, stretchy, and soy-free vegan cheese called Daiya.
Everybody's talking about it, sending out mass Tweets, and some vegan hardcores even update their Facebook status every time they slap a slice of Daiya on a sandwich or melt it on a pizza.
Yeah, vegans get pretty excited about little things like cheese alternatives.
Problem is, you have to special order the stuff if you live in Texas.
So when my friends Toni and Jay told me about a little pizza place in Flower Mound that uses Daiya on their vegan pies, I offered to deliver their son Tyler to them from SMU for the holiday weekend just for an excuse to sample this mysterious, soy-free product.
Z Pizza is a small pizza chain that started in Laguna Beach, California in 1986. Their mission was to create lighter and healthier pies, no doubt to suit the dietary needs of all those beach bodies. Flower Mound's Z Pizza opened in September of last year, and a little less than two weeks ago, this shop became the first one in Texas to carry Daiya vegan cheese.
And I've gotta say, it's pretty incredible!
We asked the girls behind the counter loads of questions about ingredients, and they dished out answers without hesitation (their knowledge about veganism was impressive). Regular tomato sauce and pizza crust are 100% organic, vegan, and made fresh daily. Whole wheat crust and veggie burger crumbles are also vegan. So we placed our order for a large Berkeley Veggie pizza, and a large plain Daiya cheese pizza.
Pizzas here are fire-baked on hot bricks, and the crust is light and crisp on the edges. Our Berkeley Veggie was made with regular tomato sauce (pesto is not vegan), Daiya cheese, veggie burger crumbles, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions, and bell peppers. Toni and Jay commented about the perfect amount of each ingredient on our pie. Toni's not a fan of mushrooms, so she picked off the few that were lurking on her slice. And Jay was happy that his slices weren't overloaded with onions or veggie crumbles.
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The plain cheese pizza was also a winner. The Daiya cheese was homogeneously melted, had a sharp finish, and it really did stretch like real cheese. Jay and I lost count of how many slices we'd eaten, but I think we estimated around six or seven each. Toni and Jay were even nice enough to let me take the last two slices home for breakfast.
Sucks, though, that they didn't make it that long. I chowed down on my to-go slices before I'd even hit highway 183.
Luckily, Betsy Weeter (franchise owner) is looking to open a Z Pizza in Dallas. But for now, I'll have to start thinking of new excuses to visit Toni and Jay weekly.
2911 Cross Timber Road, Flower Mound