Since it hit shelves in 2011, Jasper Hill Farm’s Harbison has earned a cult following and a reputation as the “desert island cheese” for cheese professionals and enthusiasts alike. It’s the ultimate indulgence: a spoonable, creamy pool of funky decadence high on many cheesemongers’ lists of the best bloomy-rind selections on the market. Now, in honor of the farm’s 20th anniversary and to contribute even further to the cheese canon, the Greensboro, Vt., creamery is launching another iteration to love: the limited-edition Campfire Harbison.
Because typical Harbison is so gooey, its soft wheel needs to be wrapped in spruce cambium (the tree’s inner bark layer) to keep its shape. Campfire Harbison goes one step further by steeping that spruce in liquid smoke. The result? A cheese with a woodsy aroma, a whisper of smoke, and a creamy sweetness on the finish. It’s like the Harbison you know and love, but imagine you’re enjoying it by a crackling campfire in the woods with the smell of spruce, earth, and smoke drifting around you. It’s a reminder of the bonfires you may have built as a teenager, the driftwood burned to embers, glowing in the sand. In short, it’s a celebration of summer.
Zoe Brickley, head of communications and e-commerce for Jasper Hill Farm, says the brand was inspired to create the cheese to invoke exactly that: a fireside celebration. “When we get together as a team to celebrate, the centerpiece is a spectacularly large bonfire,” Brickley says of the creamery’s staff. The farm’s 20th anniversary is no different: The brand will host a dinner and after party on Aug. 12 at its Greensboro cellars — tickets are sold out, but you can join the waitlist — complete with a two-story tall burning effigy and, of course, the limited-run cheese. “We tried to create an exciting, special release that encapsulated that ethos of celebrating together. What better way to symbolize that than a campfire?”
The myriad ways to serve Campfire Harbison are — as with the original — only limited by your imagination. Brickley recommends pairing the cheese with sesame graham crackers from Castleton Crackers for a savory s’more: Just bring it up to room temperature and slice the top off to reveal the pudding-like cream, ready for dipping. “It’s a grown-up graham cracker,” she says. “It’s not overly sweet, there’s a touch of that classic graham flavor, and there’s sesame seeds and a little bit of sea salt.” Humble pretzels make for a perfect pairing, too: Their nutty, malty richness marries with the wheel’s creamy, smoky contents seamlessly, and the bite finishes with a crunch of salt.
You can obviously go further than pantry staples: Employ the cheese as a dip for barbecue potato chips, spoon it over burgers or hot dogs for the ultimate topping, or drizzle it over grilled corn on the cob. Or, do as I did post-pretzels, and eat it with a spoon while listening to a summer thunderstorm. But just like the season itself, this cheese’s availability will be just as fleeting: Campfire Harbison is only available through the end of August at specialty stores like Saxelby Cheesemongers in New York City’s Chelsea Market, Sahadi’s in Brooklyn, or on Jasper Hill Farm’s website (which ships nationally).