Monday, 27 June 2016

Vegetarian Parmesan Style Cheese - Gran Kinara from Vorrei

Not all parmesan cheese is vegetarian friendly.   A lot of people are under the impression that all cheese = vegetarian – but sadly not.  It’s all in the rennet and for some who don’t eat meat, having animal derived rennet in cheese isn’t an issue, but for others it is.

Parmesan is one of those cheeses that features heavily on menus as a ‘dressing cheese’ – dishes such as ravioli, gnocchi, pasta etc are garnished with parmesan as a finale.  As a veggie when dining out, I always ask if the parmesan is vegetarian and if not, I ask for it to be omitted.

To find a good parmesan alternative is easier than it was, although still a little tricky, especially if you’re looking for the real deal from Italy.

Set up by husband & wife team Luca & Nicola Pagliaro, online Italian food and wine company, Vorrei, have a range of goods (many of which are suitable for vegetarians and vegans) which boast to have no additives or preservatives.  Equally, they’re not industrially produced and are often hard to find in the UK.  One of their range is a vegetarian friendly parmesan style cheese called Gran Kinara.

Gran Kinara is the world’s first aged cheese produced with vegetable rennet made from a type of thistle which is suitable for those that observe vegetarian, lactose free and halal diets.  The maturing of the cheese for 12 months combined with the use of vegetable rennet, ensures that the lactose turns into lactic acid (which doesn’t cause issues for lactose intolerant individuals)* much faster than in cheeses made with traditional animal rennet.  (* = The science bit courtesy of Vorrei).

The only ingredients present in the cheese are: partially skimmed cow’s milk, salt and vegetable rennet.

The producer of the cheese is Le Fattorie Fiandino.  The Fiandino family have been mountain shepherds since the 1700’s where they used to use thistle flowers as a cheaper alternative to animal rennet.  This process was revived only two years ago and they currently have a herd of 250 Bruna Alpina cows which graze freely and produce limited quantities of quality milk and this goes into the making of the parmesan style cheese.
Gran Kinara on Spaghetti
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Although it can be eaten on its own (with sparkling wine as Vorrei suggest), I grated it on a plate of vegetarian faux meatballs with spaghetti in my own homemade tomato & garlic sauce.  I was quite impressed by it, it resembles parmesan in looks + taste and grated well.  It does come in at a top end price-point of £6.50 per 250g, but if you are a frequent user of parmesan then it is worth the investment.

Disclosure:    This post has been written following kind receipt of a sample of Gran Kinara from Vorrei.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.  

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