5 Things You Should Know About Portland’s First Vegan Cheese Shop

Snack on dairy-free brie and cashew camembert at SW Jefferson’s Vtopia Cheese Shop and Deli.

By Tuck Woodstock July 10, 2015

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Cheese plate, from left to right: fresh fruit, maple seitan cheese ball, caramelized onion camembert, chive and dill, reserve sharp cheddar, aged black garlic cheddar, blackberry pomegranate compote, sun-dried tomato tapenade.

To celebrate Vtopia Cheese Shop and Deli’s grand opening on July 10, we present five fast facts about Portland’s premier plant-based cheesemonger:

1. Vtopia wouldn’t exist without MySpace: Australian Imber Lingard met American Mark Jordan on MySpace back in 2008; after a couple of IRL meet-ups, the pair quickly married and settled down in Eugene, Oregon, where Lingard began working at plant-based Cornbread Café.

A devoted vegan, Lingard developed ten non-dairy recipes to curb her own cheese cravings. The results wowed Cornbread’s crew and customers, and demand for the nut cheeses quickly spread. In December 2013, Lingard and Jordan launched Vtopian Artisan Cheeses, whose wedges and spreads are now sold in more than 40 stores from New York to Canada. The couple recently relocated to Portland to open a storefront—production is still based in Eugene—and the rest is history.

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2. The Portland shop serves all of Vtopian’s cheeses—and many more: In addition to more than a dozen house-made offerings like spicy white cheddar, caramelized onion camembert, raspberry brie, and creamy basil borealis, Vtopia’s cheese case showcases the growing global community of vegan cheesemakers. Current guests include Minnesota’s Punk Rawk Labs and L.A.’s Nary Dairy, with creations by Pure Abundance, Virgin Cheese, Miyoko’s Creamery, and Portland’s own Heidi Ho on the way. 

3. The store isn’t only for vegans: Love cow milk? That's fine with Lingard, who estimates that as many as 80% of her customers don’t eat a plant-based diet. “A lot of people just want something different to eat,” she observes. “We get people who are lactose-intolerant, and locals who aren’t vegan at all but really like the cheese.”

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4. The menu is expanding rapidly: Vtopia currently serves a bare-bones lineup of organic cheese plates, drinks, and a few heavenly melted cheese sandwiches, with New Cascadia bread and rice crackers for gluten-free folk. Lingard has big plans for the future, however; expect a wine bar, fondue, high tea, raw options, cheesecake, and of course, a deli. Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ owns space in the back of the shop, and their celebrated seitan will hopefully make its way to Vtopia’s sandwich menu soon.

5. You should order a panini. Seriously. Look at it. Would you believe that buffalo mozzarella is made from cultured cashew and coconut milk? Your tastebuds won't. 

 Join Vtopia for the grand opening on July 10 from 5–­8pm for delicious cheeses, appetizers, wine, drinks, and cupcake bites from Eugene’s Cookie Conscious. 

Vtopia Cheese Shop and Deli
1628 SW Jefferson Street
11 am–8 pm daily

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