the stick-off (and double-dippin’)

So I went to a dip party. This is amazing for two reasons:
• I don’t like dips (or sauces or condiments or practically anything smushy or squishy).
• I don’t like germs. And double-dipping or not, there’s a chance a finger could end up in your dip, which ends up in your mouth. Gross.

Jess hosted the party, asking everyone to bring a dip or even just something to dip. By the end of the night her count was around 130 dips. No kidding. Here are a couple of shots from early in the evening.

The Savory
The Sweet
The Anything Goes, where even triple-dippin' was heartily encouraged.

 Jess had posted this recipe from Hell Yeah It’s Vegan on facebook. After I opened my big trap about wishing Daiya came in blocks so I could try this, she volunteered me to make them. She was supplying the Teese so why not? I asked/begged Daiya to make a block available to me, since it’s not available in stores, explaining my plan to see which fakey cheese was reeeealllly the best. They dug the idea so I got some. Then we picked up a block of Follow Your Heart to round out the competition. Here they are, all cut up, ready to be battered and breaded. I blew up little insets so you could see the difference in texture and color from the get-go. Clockwise from the top-left, they are Daiya, Follow Your Heart, and Teese.

I cut them up into mini sticks, maybe ¼-inch logs, less than 2 inches long, so folks would be less likely to double-dip. Also, having never tried to fry Teese or Follow Your Heart (I did a trial batch with the Daiya), I was afraid they would get too melty if they were too big.

QUICK INTERRUPTION: If you’re reading this and think, “Oh, who needs to read a recipe? I’ll just wing it,” well wing it with these two things in mind: The recipe calls for a thin batter and breadcrumb coat AND freeze for at least an hour before frying. You do not want melty, popping cheesy liquid in your hot oil!

All breaded and fried they were identical so I used little paper flags—with the color key kept super secret—to get my taste-test results. Like so:

And yeah, running the deep fryer (we chose the “french fry” setting rather than the “chicken drumstick” setting) while tater tots and apple pie dip baked in the oven in an incredibly crowded apartment on a hot July night was rough. I went sleeveless in public, and I know there are some very unflattering photos of a hair-up, sweaty, apron-donning, sleeveless Michele out there and fingers crossed that they take pity on me and make good use of that “delete” button. But it was fun shooing everyone away until the battlefield was set. And Tom kept refilling my fruity punch glass for me.

I knew I wouldn’t get very good lighting—or a chance to photograph them before the crowd descended upon them—so I took a couple shots during my Daiya test batch. Take a gander, folks, before I let you in on the winner:

Stretch action shot!

What did the public have to say? Here’s a very unscientific rundown of the results:
Daiya wins; no opinion of other two
Teese best: Daiya good
Daiya best; Teese gross
Teese good
Daiya best; the rest good (from an omnivore!)
Teese gets a check-plus
Daiya is “so good”
Daiya best: Teese gross
Usually a Follow Your Heart Fan, but Daiya was best in this recipe
Daiya best, then Follow Your Heart, then Teese
Daiya best (from another omnivore)
Only tried Teese; did not like it but swore it was Daiya
Daiya best, then Teese, then Follow Your Heart
Follow Your heart gets the “so-so” hand; Daiya the best; did not try the Teese
Liked all, but Daiya had the best texture and Follow Your Heart tasted cheesiest
Daiya 10/10; Teese 8/10; Follow Your Heart 6/10

The funny part was, almost everyone who tried them all guessed which was which. I suppose when you’re at a Portland vegan party you’re sorta dealing with a room full of fakey cheese experts. So I guess the moral of my story is this: Daiya is awesome, but vegan cheese is subjective. And the other moral? If you’re invited to a dip party you should go…because at some point this guy might show up and put on the host’s apron and pose silly poses.

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