After I sat down to write about this cheese, I took my first bite of ripe and gooey Harbison, a cows milk bloomy rind (think Brie) wrapped in spruce bark. As the deep flavors forced a smile onto my face I heard the voice of Master Yoda in my head saying "you have made a wise choice young Padawan." 

Due to the healthy rind of this type, the cheese smells of garlic, onions and raw broccoli. The paste is very soft and as silky as Velveta. After my half wheel had been sitting out on the plate for 10 minutes the center started to ooze out of the wedge onto the plate. 

Upon tasting there is a progression of surprisingly bright, sweet, buttery and herbal notes with a significant dose of pine wood. The effect is rather like a $200 bottle of Balsamic vinegar. 

The progression of said nuances starts fairly slow and intensifies at a very comfortable pace. This gives you time to really enjoy each moment without feeling challenged because while Harbison is packing serious flavor, it creeps up on you and you will enjoy it before it sets off any alarms.

When dealing with a young wheel, serve just like a Brie but of course don't eat the wood on the rind. However, the rest of the rind is delicious, especially where the wood was formerly touching the rind. When more aged and runny (my fave), leave the small wheel whole and spoon from the top directly into mouth, or onto bread if you wanna be all fancy like.

Made in the good old US of A, the end result of Harbison is actually a deeper flavor than the French cheese it was likely modeled after.  People who know me, know how rare it is for me to make such a statement. I will no longer carry the French l'Edel de Cleron. Harbison is hands down the better cheese. This cheese is a must have for serious curd nerds, but for you novices, get yourself a tasty beverage and relax, you may be surprised at how much flavor you can handle.
 
Matt Caputo is one of the first American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Experts (CCP). At Tony Caputo's Market & Deli, Matt runs one of America's most cutting edge affinage (cheese aging) programs. Matt is also an internationally recognized chocolate expert. Beyond cheese and chocolate, he has an incredible depth of knowledge when it comes to the categories of cured meats, olive oil, vinegar, honey and pasta. Preserving culinary traditions of Italy and other Southern European countries is Matt's life long goal.