I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was the other day when I saw we had received a shipment of Harbison. This cheese is not the easiest to get on the West Coast and whenever we do, it's quite a treat!
Country of Origin: United States
Producers: Andy and Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont
Milk: Pasteurized cow's milk
Aged: 3-6 weeks
When I unwrap the little package that is Harbison, I can only imagine it calling to me like in the picture above. The cheese itself is a bloomy rind style cheese wrapped in spruce bark that has been harvested from Jasper Hill Farm's woodlands. As you unwrap, you get a whiff of woodsy notes from the bark and hints of mushroom from the rind. It is important to let this cheese come to room temperature because then the interior becomes this unctuous, ooey gooey paste.
For a better picture, I actually just cut the top rind right off, but typically when I'm serving this cheese, I leave it whole. That way you get flavor from the rind as well as the paste.
Yup, that's right folks, I eat this cheese with a spoon! I'm always so impressed with the flavor of this cheese. It is mushroomy and creamy while at the same time being woodsy and floral. It has a complexity of flavors that I do not see much in the bloomy rind category. The paste itself is almost liquid and is so smooth and creamy that I spread it like butter on almost anything.
I especially like this cheese with a nice, hearty red wine. I recently had it with the Ancient Peaks Renegade - a red blend made of Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot from Santa Margarita, CA. The Harbison was not overshadowed by the big flavors of the red but instead played a beautiful harmony with it. Another pairing that I especially like is the Harbison with the Fig and Olive spread from Jimtown Store in Healdsburg, CA. I even wrote about this pairing on my ACS 2012 Award Winning Cheese Plate located here: https://www.cheesesociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Leah-McFadden-2012-Winning-Cheese-Plate.pdf. Harbison got 2nd place in the "Soft Ripened - Open Category made from cow's milk" category and deservedly so. It would have been heresy for me not to include it on my winning cheese plate!
So, if you're up to trying a delicious and tasty cheese, come on by the cheese counter this week or weekend. We'd love to help you fall in love with this cheese! I hope to see you all soon, but until then, eat, drink and be happy!