The Good: Melts well, Good flavor, Tastes delicious as a component in recipes!
The Bad: Comparatively expensive, Very difficult to work with.
The Basics: Sartori Chai BellaVitano is flavorful, though somewhat simplistic, making for a delicious cheese to enjoy, but a tough one to describe!
When it comes to spices, there are some that are so frequently paired with others that it becomes hard to distinguish what makes the spice unique or impressive. The truth is, I’m not exactly certain what makes a Chai seasoning. In every Chai tea I have drunk, there has been so much cinnamon flavoring that I associate the two flavors very strongly. I know what Chai smells like, but the truth is, virtually everything I have had that is supposed to be Chai-flavored tastes pretty much like it is cinnamon-infused, with a more clove-based scent to it. So, as excited as I was to get some of Sartori’s Chai BellaVitano cheese on my recent vacation with my wife, I was not truly sure what Chai was going to add to one of Sartori’s distinctive cheeses.
After consuming my whole block of Chai BellaVitano, I still have no idea what Chai is supposed to add to the cheese.
I love flavorful cheese and the Sartori Chai BellaVitano cheese certainly lives up to that! Sold at their Antigo production plant for $5 for the 8 oz. package, this is not an inexpensive cheese, but it is a delicious one.
Sartori is a manufacturer of premium cheeses in Wisconsin. The intent of most Sartori cheeses is that they will be cheeses that hold their own as snacks that may be served to consumers directly. Sartori Chai BellaVitano certainly is a premium cheese and it lives up to having an intriguing flavor. Sartori cheeses come in blocks that are premeasured, at least for the Sartori Chai BellaVitano cheese.
The Chai BellaVitano cheese is as its name implies. This is a solid white cheese with actual Chai tea herbs embedded into the outer surface of the cheese. There is no Chai tea mixed throughout the cheese block, but the cheese seems to carry more flavor than just on the outer edges. Sartori Chai BellaVitano cheese in packaged in a simple plastic wrap and is hard enough to maintain its shape when cut open.
Ease Of Preparation
Sartori Chai BellaVitano cheese is a cheese, so more often than not, it is used on its own or as an ingredient in a recipe. Preparation of the cheese is pretty simple; cut the plastic away and slice the cheese! Unfortunately, this is a cheese that is very difficult to work with. Even the first time I opened the cheese and sliced the Sartori Chai BellaVitano cheese, it fractured and fall apart with almost every pass of the cheese plane. It was not easy to work with on its own. The cheese is not only hard to work with at the outer edge; it fractures all along the cheese plane and is tough to lift off whatever surface one cuts the cheese on without it cracking apart. This is one of the hardest to work with cheeses I have yet reviewed.
That said, after the cheese is sliced, it melts beautifully with wonderful evenness and liquidity, making it an ideal ingredient to make flavorful omelets or to replace cheddar cheese in a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.
The Chai BellaVitano is one of the few BellaVitano cheeses from Sartori that smells like something other than a very very sharp cheddar. Instead, the Chai BellaVitano has a more pungent and Parmesan-like. The aroma from this cheese is strong, but smells only like cheese.
In the mouth, the Chai BellaVitano is flavorful and very sharp. This cheese actually does not have a very salty flavor to it; instead, it is fairly sour. Like so many Chai-flavored things, the chai does not alter the taste in a significant or distinctive way. Instead, this cheese somehow, indescribably, pops more with the cheese flavor with the chai as an added component. At best, the chai seems to add a texture from the herbs embedded in the bottom and side of the cheese than anything it adds in flavor. Even so, this slightly sour cheese is yummy!
Melted into or onto something like a grilled cheese sandwich or in an omelet, the Sartori Chai BellaVitano takes on a slightly more subtle taste, almost identical to a sharp Swiss cheese. Either way, the cheese is flavorful and it augments anything it is in!
On its own, the Sartori Chai BellaVitano cheese leaves a slightly sour flavor in the mouth for about three minutes after it is consumed.
Sartori Cheeses are not intended to be all that one lives on. But for those who try, the Chai BellaVitano cheese is not overly healthy, though their cheeses have decent ingredients. The Chai does not seem to add anything of note to the cheese of nutritional value. A serving size is considered a one inch block (1 oz.). In that, there are 120 calories, 90 of which are from fat. This cheese has 25% of one's daily recommended saturated fat intake and 7% of the RDA of sodium. On the plus side, it does have 18% of the RDA of calcium and has seven grams of protein.
Obviously, Chai BellaVitano cheese is a dairy product, so those who are lactose intolerant will have problems with it. This cheese is made primarily of BellaVitano cheese and Chai tea. That makes it all-natural.
As a cheese, Sartori Chai BellaVitano cheese should be kept refrigerated. So long as that happens, it ought to stay fresh for several weeks. I am utterly unable to write about shelf-life as our 8 oz block was gone within three days after being opened! Our package bought just over three weeks ago had an expiration date of May 14, 2015.
Chai BellaVitano is a cheese, so it is not going to stain or ruin anything unless it is ground into a fabric. Baring that, cleanup of nonporous surfaces is as easy as wiping them with a damp cloth. Even the crumbs of cheese and Chai tea are aromatic and get on other things, so this is a chese that is especially important to clean up after!
Sartori Chai BellaVitano cheese is flavorful and delicious, but it is not one of the most distinctive flavors of BellaVitano cheese to be produced by the Wisconsin dairy. This cheese does not taste like cinnamon or cloves, as I usually associate with Chai. Without being familiar or flavorful in a delightful way, the Sartori Chai BellaVitano cheese is well worth picking up!
For other Sartori cheese reviews, please check out my reviews of:
Limited Edition Peppermint BellaVitano
Black Pepper BellaVitano
For other cheese and meat reviews, please visit my Meat And Cheese Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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