I recently got the chance to talk to Oliva Haver from the quality assurance team at Jasper Hill Farm about all things cheesey. So when I decided to come back up to Vermont, I had my eye out for her cheese.
I had my first taste of Jasper Hill at Hen of the Wood in Waterbury, Vermont and was instantly hooked. It was a blue with fudge-like texture that I haven’t found in blue cheese plus a more subdued funk and heaps of toasty nutty notes. I mean there was another cheese on the plate but I can’t even remember anything about it. That’s how good this blue is.
I asked our server about it and she said Jasper Hill’s Bayley Hazen blue is somewhat legendary in Vermont. It’s a many-multi-award winner because of its balanced flavor and that memorable texture.
The very next day I found Bayley Hazen at both The Butchery (one of my favorites parts of Stowe) and Commodities Natural Market. Of course, I was ready to go home and make a cheese plate that very moment! While walking around the store collecting all the elements to build out a board, I found Blake Hill Preserves plum preserve with port and anise. Sounds like a perfect pairing right? Well that’s because this preserve was developed specifically to pair with not just any blue, but Bayley Hazen.
It’s a pairing enthusiast’s dream, the perfect kind of collaboration: a preserves company and a cheesemaker! They developed a series of perfect matches for four of Jasper Hill’s most popular cheeses.
Now that Blake Hill and Jasper Hill did the work making the elements of a harmonious cracker, I just had to find the right beer. I already know I love barleywine with blue cheese so I went with Eleven Below from Four Quarters Brewery. It’s a 9% barleywine made with Vermont maple syrup and that little extra sweetness was just sublime with plum preserves.
Even if you don’t live in an area that gets Blake Hill, there is still a lot of inspiration to be gained from the pairings they developed. Orange and Whiskey Marmalade to pair with a cheddar? Can’t wait to try it. You can see all of the pairings here.
Now the real question: When will a brewery start developing beers specifically for one cheese?? I’m all in!