Harbison cheese with hand forged spoon from Beekman 1802
Making friends with your local cheesemongers has many advantages – one of which is getting the heads-up whenever a new wheel rolls into the shop. Lucky for this Mouse, I have managed to become pretty buddy-buddy with the mongers at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Shawn and his crew are good for a call, and a few weeks ago, my phone range with exciting news of a new cheese from Jasper Hill Farm called Harbison. Knowing that anything from the folks at Jasper promises to be good eats, I headed over to Kerrytown to get a taste.
At first glance, I was a bit disappointed. It appeared to be just another spruce-bark-wrapped cheese similar to last year’s star fromage, which was also a spruce-bound cow’s milk creation called Rush Creek Reserve from Andy Hatch at the award-winning Upland Cheese Company. Could the Kehler brothers from Vermont really compete… or offer something different? The monger behind the counter told me to reserve my judgment until I tried it. Once again, my trust was not misplaced, as any initial disappointment vanished once I cracked open this earthy wheel of goodness.
Unlike the raw-milk wonder that is Rush Creek, Harbison is made with pasteurized cow milk, and the two-third of a pound wheel is aged a mere three to six weeks. Its intense aroma of wet leaves, fresh earth and mushrooms is a pleasant contrast to the sweet, beefy flavor with a hint of smoke. While spoonable, Harbison’s paste is a bit firmer than Rush Creek, yet it still has similar versatility, responding well to both table service and cooking (it’s a particularly rich and tasty treat when mixed in with boiled redskin potatoes).
Whether entertaining or just relaxing with the family, this is a great cheese to have on-hand this holiday season. I actually had both Harbison and Rush Creek on our board for Thanksgiving. They complemented one another quite well and we all gave thanks to the blessed cheesemongers in our lives.
For more on Harbison, check out the video below.
Constant Bliss by Jasper Hill Farm aged one month in cheese safe
As a cheesemonger-in-training, I typically follow the rules when handling my cheese selections. Fresh fromages like chevres should be served sooner rather than later, age gouda can be stored up to a few months with proper care and temperature control, etc. There are reasons for these rules, including preserving integrity of the taste and complexity of the rind or control of the acidity, and I respect them. However, there comes a time when I throw caution to the wind to see just how far I can take a cheese, how long I can let it mature before it goes past its prime. Such is the case with my recent purchase of Jasper Hill’s Constant Bliss.
For those not in the know, Constant Bliss was the first cheese produced at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, VT. This complex fromage is made from pasteurized, uncooled evening milk of the farm’s Ayrshire cows and aged a mere 60 days. Most recognize Constant Bliss by its bloomy white rind which hides a creamy underlayer of fatty paste, followed by a more substantial and pillowy center. In its early stage, each layer has a distinct flavor, the delicate rind is earthy without being too assertive, followed by the thin layer of sweet cream, ending in a lemony center. By aging my wheel for a month in my cheese safe, not only did the flavors intensify, but the actual structure of the cheese took on a whole new life. A fantastically mouth-watering life. Continue reading
Occasionally I’ll buy a certain kind of cheese just because it has a fun name. Such is the case for Twig Farm’s Fuzzy Wheel. I purposely did no research and asked no questions when I sent my order for this fun sounding fuzz from Formaggio Kitchen. I wanted to be totally surprised…and I was.
Twig Farm is a small goat farm in West Cornwall, Vermont and has been in operation since 2005. Owners Michael Lee and Emily Sunderman use traditional equipment and techniques to make their varieties of farmstead cheeses, forming them by hand and aging in their cheese cellar. Continue reading
The first day of spring may be a couple of days away, but the flavor of spring has already arrived in the form of Ascutney Mountain from Cobb Hill Cheese.
Produced in the aptly named Hartland, Vermont, this raw cow’s milk cheese is so fresh and earthy, images of green pastures pop into your head thanks to its grassy notes. Made in the alpine style, Ascutney Mountain has a clean, hard rind and a smooth semi-firm interior with a stunning dandelion-yellow color. As it ages, the sweetness turns to nutty goodness and it’s like eating a completely different cheese. Continue reading