Today, gourmands, we are talking about cream cheese. The question that often comes up when the subj...
Wait, hold on. Cream cheese?? Yes, you read that correctly -- cream cheese.
The other day, I was at my local Ralphs grocery store (not to be confused with Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery on the News from Lake Wobegon, a point Garrison Keillor often jokes about when he brings A Prairie Home Companion to Los Angeles) and wandering through the deli section came across what looked like a new product. It was a Kroger house brand called “Greek cream cheese & Greek yogurt”.
I don't get cream cheese all that often -- in part because it's high in fat and in part because...well, unless you've got you some lox, it's pretty bland. When I do need cream cheese on occasion, I'll generally get non-fat cream cheese, and the best brands like Knudsen are passable, though they all tend to be a bit gummy (and lesser brands can be chalky). Low-fat cream cheese is tasty, though not terribly low-fat. (As you may have noticed at this point, I try to eat low-fat.) I decided to buy a package of the Kroger Greek because I was intrigued -- I know that Greek yogurt has a slightly thicker texture and richer flavor. And because this said it was lower fat, although not seemingly as low as low-fat cream cheese. And it was also on sale, which...okay, that helped, too…
A couple things, one of which is odd.
The fist thing, which is non-odd, is that It tastes almost exactly like cream cheese, but is less bland, seeming to have a little richer flavor, and has a slightly thicker texture (though not much).
But the odd thing is that, as you can see from the package above, it says that the product is "Half the fat of cream cheese” – but it’s not. It’s actually better than that. It’s actually less than one-third of the fat! I checked packages of cream cheese in the case which all said 10 grams of fat. Light cream cheeses were 4.5 grams of fat. And this is only 3 grams of fat. Why on earth they “under-promote” themselves, I have no idea. My best guess is perhaps studies show that people will think it won’t taste good if it’s too “low fat.” Or maybe they can’t do the math.
The very low-fat is a big deal for me personally. But the operative issue for most people is point #1 -- it tastes very good. I don't mean "very good" compared to lower-fat cream cheeses. I mean, very good for cream cheese, period. At the very least, it tastes and has the texture almost exactly like whole milk cream cheese. The only reason I say "almost" is because...I think the little difference tastes better. It's cream cheese with a slight richness. At a third the fat. (And 60 calories, compared to 100 for regular, and 70 for low-fat.).
I read online that the product is now in 2,400 stores nationwide. Whether that true or not is only for the Food Gods to know. But if there's a Kroger near you -- or a chain owned by the Kroger company, like Ralphs -- it's worth checking out for the cream cheese lovers among you. Me, I've found myself even spreading it on crackers occasionally for a snack. Since it actually has a slight flavor.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled bagel.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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