Jasper Hill Farm’s Harbison, Vermont

by mncheese on September 21, 2011

in American-NewEngland,Cheese!,Cheesemakers & People,Cow,Milk,Vinos

When Benjamin tweeted about the arrival of Harbison at France 44 Cheese Shop last week, I was surprised. Not that he was tweeting, of course – he does that all day long – but that I didn’t already know about this Jasper Hill Farm cheese! Colleen and I consider ourselves to be Jasper Hill groupies, but the name didn’t even ring a bell when I saw that tweet. Either I’m getting even less sleep than I thought (thanks, teething baby!), or the cheese world has been keeping mum so it can hoard all the bark-wrapped, bloomy-rind Harbison for itself.

At first glance, Harbison looks like Rush Creek Reserve, the belle of the cheeseball last winter, but it carries a much different flavor and texture. Whereas Rush Creek oozes from its barky frame and tempts you with each buttery spoonful, Harbison’s paste remains much firmer and tastes like a campfire. This cheese retains more smoke than the brisket my husband cooked a few weeks ago on his new smoker, and the aroma is so woodsy, you’d almost expect Bambi, Thumper and their forest friends to run past your house. It’s a little incongruous for such a delicate cheese – you must cut off the top and dip into it with a spoon – to have such a bold, dare-I-say masculine flavor, but it works. Pairing such a smoky cheese can be difficult, so I was pleased to find that Chicago’s Pastoral Artisan Cheese had already attempted it, suggesting Bourgogne Blanc.

Bravo, Kehler brothers. Next time, we’d appreciate a little heads-up when you bring a winner to market.

{ 10 comments }

s. September 21, 2011 at 8:58 am

No remark on the mustard–particularly one akin to French’s Yellow–finish? I’ve been selling Harbison for nearly a month and it is my new cheese love… and you know its a newbie from Jasper Hill when it doesn’t come wrapped in their brown paper with the unmistakable blue label.

Jill September 21, 2011 at 10:20 am

I very rarely eat mustard, so I wouldn’t think to make the comparison, but now that you mention it, yes, I can detect some mustardy notes.

s. September 22, 2011 at 10:50 pm

I just read a review where someone mentioned a brown sugar finish. Do you get that at all because I’m definitely not feeling that one.

Jill September 23, 2011 at 9:43 am

No, it’s not sweet enough for that. It’s much more of a umami-type flavor.

s. September 24, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Right? I’m home curing some guanciale at the moment and can’t wait to have it with the Harbison when its all done. What are some pairings you would recommend(from meats to olives, etc)?

Madame Fromage October 4, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Ooo, lordy bee, this looks like the second coming. I’ve heard of Harbison, but I didn’t realize it was from Jasper Hill. I’ll have to sniff it out around here.

Jill October 5, 2011 at 9:47 am

S – sorry for the delay in responding. I don’t eat most charcuterie (no pork), so I’m not the best person to ask about meat pairings, but I think Harbison would match well with bastirma, a thinly sliced, cured beef I’ve had at a local Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant. I don’t think olives are a great pairing, though – the brininess of the olives would muddle the palate and detract from the cheese’s smokiness. I’d rather have a big hunk of rustic bread and scoop away!

Kate November 6, 2011 at 7:01 am

Truly one of the best!!!

Thomas M. Hurst November 8, 2011 at 10:13 pm

What an honor for Greensboro, Vermont’s Anne Harbison! Well deserved!

Thomas M. Hurst November 8, 2011 at 10:15 pm

What an honor for Greensboro, Vermont ‘s Anne Harbison! Well deserved!

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