Name: Harpersfield (with Ommegang ale)
Producer: Brovetto Dairy
Milk: Pasteurized Cow
Age: 2+ months
Even cheesemongers make mistakes. Truth be told, this article was originally about a Spanish cheese from the new Formaggio Kitchen (in the Essex St. Market) called Las Mil Ovejas. As it turns out, when they say "FK Exclusive!", they really mean it. I was unable to find it available in the States except by walking into the FK at Essex St, so I thought would be unfair to our friends around the country to review it. Look for my tasting notes in my review of the store later this week.
Luckily, while at Essex St Market, I couldn't resist a stop at Saxelby Cheesemongers. It was there that I picked up what was destined to be this week's cheese: Harpersfield with Ommegang Ale from Brovetto Dairy.
Starting with the basic recipe for Tilsit, a traditional European cheese, they take it further, producing a farmstead cheese from their forty cows that rivals its German/Swiss roots. Though the version I got was soaked in Ommegang beer (which is a Belgian-style ale), other versions feature dill, caraway, as well as plain.
The first thing that struck me was a strong white wine vinegar smell and, beneath that, the distinctive odor of hops. The taste goes mainly along the same coarse, starting with a spicy bite, and then moving into that lovely hoppy, slightly piquant taste before finishing with a lingering saltiness.
My only regret is that I didn't have a pint of Ommegang's "Rare Vos" to enjoy with it, but you don't have to make the same mistake I did. So, grab a sandwich of corned beef and sauerkraut on some hearty German rye bread, and shout to the mountains "Ich bin ein Käsegeliebter!"
Harpersfield Ommegang, as well as their caraway version, is available from Saxelby Cheesemongers for $16.99/lb, as well as directly from Brovetto Dairy (1677 County 29, Jefferson, NY 12093. 607-278-6622. firstname.lastname@example.org), who would be happy to send it to you for $7.25/lb + cost of shipping.