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Cream Cheese-Is there a World Beyond Philadelphia Brand?

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Can someone out there in CH land fill me in on the secrets of Cream Cheese? I've eaten Kraft since small, but I sense there's a World out there I know nothing about.
Different fat content, methodology, source, etc.?
Is there a brand that's just better than the rest?

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  1. Beyond the grocery store, there's the cream cheese that you could buy at a kosher style deli or, even some bagel shops that would be infinately better and fresher.

    1. A drained whole milk yogurt is my alternative. You need to like yogurt though.

      1. I have tried all of the brands available at the supermarket and Kraft is my pick.

        But, try the "cream" cheeses available at the farmer's markets, cheese shops. They can be much better than Kraft.

        1. I really miss the cream cheese that the UVM dairy in Burlington, VT. used to make, I hope they are still making it, we just live too far away. It was lovely stuff and had no gums or fillers

          1. i don't know where you are but here in northern california there's a great brand called sierra nevada cream cheese. it's at the specialty stores and TJs

            3 Replies
            1. re: ton casmo

              Yes, I heartily recommend Sierra Nevada's cream cheese. The brand name is Gina Marie's Old Fashioned Cream Cheese. I buy it at Safeway in San Francisco.

              Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                I've had this cream cheese and it is VERY good! Highly rec it! Also Tuttle is good if it's still around. 2# blocks, no gum!

                1. re: toodie jane

                  Fourth this rec! Discovered it this past year (I'm also in NoCal) and can't go back to Philadelphia. It's so creamy, fluffy, and spreadable and best of all...tastes like real cheese!!

            2. I've noticed that some grocery store brands of cream cheese have a gummy texture and a shiny appearance. I think it's due to the addition of things like emulsifiers and gums. I avoid these at all costs. Philadelphia Cream cheese probably has these additives too, but it definitely is a superior product and is widely available. I find it very reliable for baking. I wouldn't make a cream cheese frosting with anything else. For just plain eating on a bagel, I've found Nancy's to be quite good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: raj1

                Yes, generic is never as good as brand in this case, much as I would prefer it to be otherwise.

              2. I like Ben's, made on the Lower East Side in NYC and available locally. It is fresh and has no gums or fillers. But this is only for eating. For baking, especially cheesecake, Philadelphia is it. The recipes are designed to be used with a cream cheese that does have all those gums and fillers, the cake won't come out right with 'artisanal' cream cheese.

                1. I cook. A lot. I've tried them all. there's a brand in the NW - Diana. Excellent. Other than that - Philly cannot be beat. And it does matter. TJ's is no good at all. Safeway brand - awful. Sometimes they use so much guar gum it's slimy. Some brands get grainy when you cook with them. Philly is always good for cooking.

                  1. Go to a Whole Foods or organic/health-food/co-op store, and look for organic or imported or locally produced cream cheese.

                    I buy organic Neuchatel cheese (low-fat cream cheese) at my local co-op, and it's a revelation. Rich, creamy, not a hint of a chemical or metalic taste, fresh, and yummy!

                    You'll never go back to Philadephia brand again.

                    Anne

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      Sorry, but I've tried all the options at Whole Foods and to my palate, none of them matches Philadelphia for taste and texture..

                    2. Your question made me remember that I've wanted to post a link to David Leite's wonderful article about the origins of American cream cheese (and cheesecake) and its relationship to Neufchatel, a French cheese. So, here's the link:

                      Link: http://www.leitesculinaria.com/food_h...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Nancy Berry

                        Here's an updated link to the article, which is actually by Gary Allen: http://leitesculinaria.com/9983/writi...

                        One correction: Chester, NY is not in the southern Catskills, it's in the Hudson Valley. The Lawrence family farm is still an operating farm and still in the family. It's one of the most picturesque sights along Rt.17 in Orange County, set on a hillside north of the highway.

                      2. Question: is there an equivalent Mexican cream cheese? I've fallen head over heels for their different 'sour creams' or crema frescas. So far superior to domestic ones--even unadultered ones like Daisy.

                        If so, I'd love to try some!

                        1. Yes! Gina Marie's by the Sierra Nevada Cheese Co is the most amazing I've ever had! Light, smooth and super creamy, I could literally eat it by the spoonful!
                          http://www.sierranevadacheese.com/cow...

                          1. A fairly new brand from Green Mountain Farms that combines greek yogurt's tang with cream cheese smoothness. I stopped buying Philly cc in favor of this one. I really like the tang.

                            1. i personally prefer some of the organic brands over Philly

                              here is an article from the Huff Post
                              http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01...

                              1. In reading most of the posts, I'd have to agree that, in my limited experience tasting OTHER CC's, Philly is still the best. Now, ONE option may be to use something like the Italian Mascarpone for SOME opportunities...