Thursday, May 11, 2017


People warned me that I might be disappointed by this little Brie-like cheese. I was not. Sometimes the beauty of a cheese is in its subtlety. Perhaps because Hartwell is one of Jasper Hill's babies, those who cautioned me were expecting a jaw-dropping dairy experience with this cheese. Jasper Hill is the same company that produces the wondrous Harbison, a cheese that's unlike any other, one that leaves a definite impression. In the same way that Iggy Pop defines punk rock and you can't compare soft punk (yes, that's a thing) stars to a celebrity so legendary, don't try to compare any cheeses to Harbison. You will be disappointed if you do, but if you go into cheese sampling escapades with an open mind, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Jasper Hill Hartwell
Hartwell cheese comes in a tiny package.

Hartwell may not be the life of the party, but sometimes a wallflower is more intriguing and ends up being the one people hold dear. It's unique in its own right and comes in a downright adorable package. The milk from grass-fed cows is how the cheese gets its overall rich, buttery flavor. It has a bloomy rind that's washed with the sediment from Eden Ice Cider, which gives the soft, outer surface a unique tang. The outer surface has all the characteristics of a traditional bloomy rind, but the earthy, mushroomy flavor is amplified, on the verge of being spicy with just a hint of the country in there. Even the aroma of the cheese is mushroomy, very much like a strong and slightly edgier Brie, though it never approaches hardcore.

Hartwell Cheese Jasper Hill
A young Hartwell has a pretty outer rind.

Elegant cheeses in small packages are hard to find, but this one succeeds where others fail. Its shape, color, and overall look are classy. The inner off-white paste is smooth and even. This is a true semi-soft cheese, slightly creamy with a substantial chewy mouthfeel. The flavor intensifies as the cheese ages.

Hartwell on a whole wheat baguette or on rye crackers makes a fabulous snack. The cheese pairs well with tart apples or seasonal pears, too. You can serve it as you would a traditional Brie, even baked in a crust. Try it on plain crackers with roasted and chopped nuts sprinkled on top or in place of any cheese in your favorite sandwich.

Wines that go well with Heartwell include Chardonnay, Gamay, Zinfandel, Sauternes, Pinot Noir from Chile or even a nice champagne. If you're a beer fan, try this little treasure with a Pilsner.

Hartwell and Chardonnay
Chardonnay pairs well with Hartwell.

From the Jasper Hill website:

Jasper Hill is a working dairy farm with an on-site creamery in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. An underground aging facility maximizes the potential of cheeses made by the creamery, as well as those made by other local producers. Leftover whey from the cheesemaking process is fed to heritage breed pigs, roaming the woodlands beyond the cows' pasture.

Jasper Hill's mission is to make the highest possible quality products in a way that supports Vermont's working landscape. We are driven to be the standard bearer of quality and innovation in the artisan cheese industry while promoting our regional taste of place.

More information about Hartwell from the Jasper Hill website.


  1. "earthy, mushroomy flavor is amplified, on the verge of being spicy with just a hint of the country"

    It's funny that I can tell from this passage almost exactly what this cheese must taste like, and that I would like it, despite having little affinity for eating raw mushrooms and none at all for eating earth.

    1. I think we need to go on some cheese buying trips. There are countless cheeses I have yet to sample, and I could use a partner in crime.

  2. Northeast Kingdom of Vermont! That is a hella remote place. Cheryl Garcia lives up there and it's not terribly far from where I went to college.