On our first visit to Amsterdam, my husband and I shared a delicious three-course dinner at De Kas. The restaurant inhabits a repurposed greenhouse on the outskirts of the city in Frankendael Park. What does a restaurant in Amsterdam have to do with a soft-ripened cheese from Vermont? After dinner at De Kas we were presented with the most memorable cheese course, a soft-ripened cheese served on a spoon. The cheese was smooth, creamy, and delicious. At that moment, I discovered the pleasure of the perfect soft-ripened cheese.
Over the past ten years, my family has enjoyed several washed-rind cheeses that are soft, pungent, and spoonable such as Vacherin Mont d’Or from Switzerland and Berthaut Époisses & Affidélice from France. When I moved to Chicago, I discovered an amazing artisanal cheese shop named Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine in my neighborhood. I tasted Harbison, a soft-ripened cheese with a bloomy rind wrapped in spruce bark, on a recent visit to the shop. Harbison is made by Jasper Hill Creamery and matured at the Cellars at Jasper Hill before being shipped to artisanal cheese shops and cheese connoisseurs around the country. Although Harbison is soft and spoonable like the washed-rind cheeses, it is far less pungent.
Harbison is the perfect cheese for a small party of 4-6 guests. The top of the Harbison round should be cut off and served with a spoon. Accompany the cheese with an assortment of crackers, crusty bread, fruit mostarda, dried apricots or fresh cherries.