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12 Days of Cheesemas–Day 6

If I were told that I would be given $1 million tomorrow, but I would have to forgo ever having a taste of Jasper Hill Farms Harbison again… I would take the $1 million, but I would pine for that cheese every day. Seriously, one of the most beautiful and complex cheeses I’ve had in the past few years. As I’ve swooned here before:

It starts out smokey, akin to a young Winnimere, then a wash of butter and cream hits, ending with a distinct mustard finish. French’s Yellow Mustard to be exact.

It’s that finish. That lingering, familiar and pleasant acidity separates this from so many in its category. Get it ripe enough and, like the Vacherin, sheer the top and just fucking ladle it out.

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Guanciale: Phase 1

I love the women of Dandelion Spring Farm, pure and simple. Not only are they extremely friendly and grow some of the most beautiful produce, they have also bestowed upon me my first whole pig jowl.


The deeply blushed red and porcelin white lobe is sitting in the refrigerator now, coated with salt, sugar, pepper and thyme.

It will live there for nearly a week before its wrapped in cheesecloth, strung up and hung in the Missus’ office. The cooler temperatures will ease it into a cured state and turn the jowl into the Italian bacon, Guanciale.

When it’s ready, in about 3 to 4 weeks, it will be cut down, sliced and paired with my new cheese obsession: Harbison from The Cellars at Jasper Hill.

The newest addition to the Jasper Hill family of cheeses, this is one of the most complex cheeses I’ve had in a very long time. It starts out smokey, akin to a young Winnimere, then a wash of butter and cream hits, ending with a distinct mustard finish. French’s Yellow Mustard to be exact.

That beginning and end makes it a perfect pairing for cured meats. The worst part about the whole thing is the month long wait I’ll have to endure before I can savor these two together. I’ll let you know how it all goes down when the time comes.

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Edible Obsession: Winnimere from Jasper Hill Farms

My fingers smell like funk right now. I can smell honey, yeast and must. To be more specific, they smell like the rind of Jasper Hill Farm’s Winnimere cheese and the local honey I paired with it. Six months ago I said goodbye to this cheese as it’s season ended. Six months of hardly touching a gooey washed rind until now. Two weeks ago I saw on the Jasper Hill Facebook page that they were releasing the first batches and then I waited patiently.

Then, while shopping at Whole Foods today I noticed her there in the case. She was a perfectly untouched, deep copper toned round. Had I been $28 richer, I would have bought the whole wheel just to marvel at by myself in the privacy of my own home. It is one of my desert island foods, you see. But, upon looking at the piece that was cut for me, to see how quickly the cheese tried to rush out from it’s rind, I knew it was actually best to not get the whole wheel. Why? Because it’s perfect right f’ing now. In fact, it may be one of the best batches I’ve seen from them since their first release of this particular cheese. But, it shouldn’t surprise me at all because it seems like Jasper Hill is hitting it’s stride. Recent sampled batches of their Moses Sleeper, Constant Bliss, Clothbound Cheddar (done in conjunction with Cabot Creamery) and their Bayley Hazen Blue have been particularly delicious.

My first taste of this years Winnimere was a pleasant surprise. While it had the body of a near overly ripened cheese, it had a sweetness that was extremely reminiscent of a triple creme brie. The slight smokiness of a cured meat–something I absolutely love in this cheese–was more subtle than I remembered it, though the rind itself(washed with a lambic ale) was as yeasty as ever.

You can seek it out at Whole Foods, The Cheese Iron and K. Hortons(I think) for the next six months, as well as it’s appearances on many a cheese plate at local restaurants. Do yourself a favor and buy a small wedge of it. Let it come to room temperature, smear it on slices of your favorite crusty bread and share my obsession. I’ll need the shoulders of others to cry upon come July when she disappears once again.

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What To Eat When It’s 99 Degrees Outside..

Bread and Cheese…

From the bloomy rind down:

Moses Sleeper: New pasteurized cow’s milk from Jasper Hill Farms in Vermont. So the story goes: Moses Sleeper was the companion of Constant Bliss (another gorgeous bloomy rind from JHF) and both were killed together on Bayley Hazen Road (3 for 3 on JHF cheeses). It’s a great story for a cheese and, until now, Constant had definitely received more attention but my choice between the two is Moses. It’s runny beyond belief and that’s my preferred texture in triple cremes–so much so that we splayed it open and scooped out the gooey insides. The firmer Constant Bliss just doesn’t have that and loses by default. And while Moses has the slightest bit of a white mushroom flavor to it, it’s the slight salt and full fat that reel me in.

Queso del Ivernia: For 17 years Major Farm, located in Vermont, has been winning awards for their cheeses. Wait, correct that: They’ve been winning awards for one cheese, the gold standard of sheep’s milk cheeses in the US, Vermont Shepherd. This year, they’ve released this blend of cow and sheep’s milk, getting the cow’s milk from a local farmer. The name means “winter cheese,” and it lives up to that in it’s heartiness. Slightly creamier than the Shepherd, it shares the same nutty, grassy paste and slightly chalky texture(it’s a good thing). There’s a saltiness to it found in cheeses associated with winter like Gruyere, Comte and, my favorite: Rolf Beeler Appenzeller. Perhaps this is what the love child of those two cheeses would taste like?

Winnemere: It’s actually kind of sad to write about Winne as it’s season just came to an end–though I’m sure you can find some around at the Cheese Iron and/or Whole Foods. I’ve been enamoured with this cheese since the moment I tried it at Evangeline a couple of years ago. It was paired with Buckwheat honey and marcona almonds (I believe) and when I took my first bite, so began a love affair with washed rind cheeses.

The nose it gives off is yeasty and prominent and, honestly, can get down right overpowering if ripened long enough. But, the paste that’s waiting inside is unmatched in my opinion. There’s a smokiness, like molasses, to this cheese that defies everything my taste buds have known outside of Vacheron. Yet, it’s not overwhelming or smothers the true flavor in the cheese. It finds it’s place on your taste buds and settles down nicely.

It also pairs nicely with some local Wild Blueberry Jam.

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