Made in Nashville: Door 86 Artisan Vegan Cheese



When the topic of a vegan diet is brought up, one of the most common objections you’ll hear from any non-vegan (vegetarian or omnivore) is, “But I couldn’t live without cheese.” I admit; I’ve said it.

But, y’know, things change. For many reasons, I’m looking for dairy alternatives. There are some great soy-based ice creams and treats as well as a good sour cream and faux cream cheese. There are even good faux mozzarellas and cheddars that actually melt. But what about a nice brie? A Stilton? Something to eat with your favorite wine or with have with a group of friends? That’s when you go to Door 86.

Door 86 started as a small operation (get it?) in Denver a few years ago. Daphne Medina began making cashew-based vegan cheeses from the popular book, Artisan Vegan Cheese, and then experimented with her own flavors and recipes inspired by the great cheeses she’d enjoyed from travels around the world. Soon, though, the enterprise became really popular and word of Door 86’s delicious cheeses spread all over the country. What started out as a hobby became a legitimate business.

Earlier this year, Daphne and her husband Manuel relocated to the Nashville area and brought Door 86 with them. Daphne, a Middle Tennessee native, wanted to be closer to family after Manuel retired from the military. Shortly after arriving, things just started falling into place. In Springfield, Tenn., they met with the owner of The Depot, who wanted to sell their cheeses in the restaurant. Then more mail orders from around the country began rolling in. It was becoming clear that a bigger production space was needed, and after a short search, they met Pam Daley of Spark of Life, who invited them to share her business’s kitchen. The partnership is perfect: both businesses feature gluten-free, plant-based foods that are good and good for you.

But Door 86 cheeses aren’t exactly health foods; they are not low-fat or low-calorie. Though they’re dairy-free, gluten-free and made from all-natural, non-GMO and organic ingredients, the cheeses (made from a cashew base) are decadent (and delicious). But they're certainly no more fattening than a dairy cheese. I stopped in last week to sample from the menu, which includes brie, Sriracha cheddar, lemon Stilton, pepper jack, gruyere, white cheddar, smoked cheddar, and a cheese ball (see their website for more mouth-watering descriptions).

I started with the brie, and though I enjoyed every cheese, it’s all I could think about (I bought half a pound of it to take home). The flavor, appearance and consistency are fantastic. I don’t think it would fool a dairy cheese lover, but it would certainly make one happy. My other favorites were the lemon Stilton and the cheese ball. But all were very tasty. The cheeses are perfect for parties and events because they are quite stable and keep their taste and consistency even after being out for hours (with no worry of poisoning your guests).

But don’t just take my word for it; you’ve got to try these cheeses yourself. If you missed Door 86 at the recent Yelp Helps event, there are other ways to get it.

The Depot in Springfield features a selection of cheeses on their appetizer menu, and Door 86 hopes to be in other restaurants and groceries in the Nashville area soon as well as set up at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter to keep up. Door 86 will also be sampling at Our Serenity Shop in Springfield from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov.,16 as part of a fundraising event for Walden’s Puddle.

You can also order directly from Door 86 and pick up at their West Nashville kitchen to avoid shipping charges if you like. You can buy in 8- and 16-ounce packages or go for The Elvis, a sampler platter of all the flavors. I highly recommend it.

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