If anyone needs proof that American cheeses are some of the finest in the world, let us introduce Harbison. This truly magnificent cheese is made in Vermont by Jasper Hill Farm, one of America's most impressive cheese producers.
Harbison is the pinnacle of what can happen when nature, art, and science work together. The exterior is a bloomy rind, like that of a brie. The wheel is wrapped with a strip of spruce bark which is wrapped around the wheels to keep their shape. When perfectly ripe, the interior is spoonable and soft, like pudding or warm buttercream frosting. The taste is like heaven: woodsy and creamy, slightly sweet with both richness and yet hints of lemon. There are notes of mustard and vegetables, mushrooms and umami. The multitude of flavors tell a story of grass-fed cows, high quality milk, and the terroir of Vermont's rural Northeast Kingdom.
This cheese is designed to be spooned into from the top. Treat the rind like the cheese's bowl - cut the top off and scoop out the cheese with a spoon. You can also dip crackers or bread into the cheese. For this reason it's a perfect entertaining cheese.
The most important part: make sure the cheese is ripe before you eat it. Give it a squeeze - the inside should feel very soft inside - almost like liquid. This is when the true experience comes alive. (If your cheese feels firm, it might be young. As the wheel ages, it gets softer.)
Try this gourmet cheese with some rustic bread and enjoy with sparkling wine, oaky white wine, apple cider of a fresh IPA beer. The bark around the cheese gives a ready-made serving option.
You may notice be some blue or green mold on the bark strip. This is normal.