Last month, a fire damaged Ploughgate Creamery in Albany, Vt., bringing cheese production to a halt. Among the (dairy) casualties were creamy Elmore, the silky Willoughby and Hartwell, a bloomy rind Camembert-style cheese made from organic Ayrshire cow milk that has melted many a cheeselover's heart.
But there's still a tiny amount of it left, and it's in Waterbury.
At the time of the fire, Ploughgate owner and cheesemaker Marisa Mauro wrote that she was "not sure of the next step." For now, Mauro is using her acumen to do the cheese buying at the brand-new Cork Wine Bar & Market, in the middle of Waterbury Village.
So, it makes sense that inside Cork's cooler are the last wheels of Hartwell, the buttery cheese that won a blue ribbon at last year's American Cheese Society Conference and that tastes subtly of wet earth. Sliced atop hearty Jan's Farmhouse Crisps — crackers made with flax, pistachios, cranberries and pumpkin seeds in Stowe — it's a purely local, and fall-like, snack, as fleeting as turning leaves.