18 April, 2009

Sonoma Jacks "Gourmet" Cheese

The local Big Y supermarket had these cheeses on sale a couple of weeks ago: Sonoma Jacks Gourmet Cheese Wedges. I figured they'd be sort of like flavored versions of those sticky little cheese wedges that Laughing Cow makes. I was kind of right - Sonoma Jacks are sticky little wedges. But while Laughing Cow makes theirs from cheese, powdered milk, milkfat, and cream, Sonoma Jacks are cheese, water, and "natural flavor."

The Pepper Jack variety has a "serving suggestion" on the front label showing a jalapeno-flecked cheese wedge positioned near big slices of pepper. The actual product is so different it's almost deceptive. The pepper bits in the cheese are almost invisible. The "grassy" green flavor of jalapenos is there, but the expected heat or spiciness is almost completely lacking. The texture is wet and sticky, and the overall flavor is quite bland and milky.

But "bland" and "milky" might be the kindest things one can say about the Original variety, which takes the already-mild flavor of Jack cheese to new and untested levels of mediocrity. It's very similar to plain cream cheese - except cream cheese is less expensive, spreads more easily, and doesn't have to be annoyingly unwrapped an ounce at a time.

Interestingly, the Parmesan Peppercorn variety had the most flavor of any of the three, even though there isn't a bit of Parmesan in it - just Jack cheese, "natural flavors" and plenty of coarsely ground peppercorns, which added a fruity, floral kick to the cheese (but unfortunately, not much peppery burn.)

Overall, I didn't find much about this stuff deserving of the label "gourmet." I much prefer a good aged Vermont, Massachusetts, or New York State cheddar, or a real soft-ripened wheel of brie, or a stanky Gorgonzola with a bite so sharp it peels the roof of your mouth. But if you're a fan of sticky cheese spreads and those orange cheese food product "slices" that come in their own individual plastic wraps, you might enjoy the change of pace that Sonoma Jacks will offer.


Sonoma Cheese Website


Anonymous said...

Have you tried the Garlic and Herb Light? You may want to give it a taste. It contains Light Cheddar and Cheddar cheese (pasteurized cultured milk and skim milk, salt, enzymes), water, skim milk, sodium phosphate, garlic, sodium citrate, salt and spices. I don't know if it was out at the time of your tasting but at $1.98 for 6 wedges and 25 fat cal. per wedge, they make for a tasty, inexpensive (we know why that cow is laughing!) and healthy way to satisfy one's hankering for cheese!

Gravetender said...

I have tried three different Sonoma Jacks cheeses and I thought they tasted terrible. All flavors had a weird waxy feel to them and very little taste. And I don't know where you found it for $1.98 for 6 wedges. The cheapest I have found it was $3.98.

Anonymous said...

I live in Oregon and know what good cheese is, and this is not cheese. HOWEVER: I like it for what it is -- a smooth spreadable topping for crackers that adds some taste without the calories of real cheese. I tried the Garlic and Herb Light flavor and compared it to the Garlic and Herb Laughing Cow. I like the laughing cow better, but the Sonoma was fine. It comes in 6 wedges, instead of the 8 in the Laughing cow, so the Sonoma package was cheaper ($1.98), but ended up being the same price per oz. It is nice to have a shelf stable snack that I can dig my crackers into without getting too many calories.

Anonymous said...

i love this cheese! it is light healthy and tasty. the light version contain 1.5g of saturated fat. it does not get any better and the calory amount are very low. if you are looking for fatty and creamy this is not the cheese for you. i love it! especially the parmasan peppercorn! it is all about eating healthy!!!

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago I purchased the last 3 Pepper Jacks in the store. When I got to the car my friend realized they were "out dated".
I brought it to the Manager's attention and he allowed me to keep them and he refunded my money; which was 2 for $3.00.

The Manager has vowed to stop purchasing from this vendor due to them sending his store "close to out of date" products. Now I have difficulty finding it. Will you please help me locate a store that carries Sonoma Jacks products. Ms. Motown