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Apr 12, 2012 03:16 PM

Is Anyone Else Underwhelmed by Harman's Cheese in Sugar Hill?

I expected a larger country-store type space, dedicated mostly to cheese. Instead, the space has lots of trinkets and t shirts.

The plus--we bought excellent syrup.

The minus--we bought overpriced aged cheddar that wasn't a mite better than Cabot, and paid top dollar for some decidedly blah salmon pate.

Lesson learned...quaint ain't always what it's cracked up to be.

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  1. It's more about the setting, knick knacks and whatnot. The cheese is made in upstate New York, not local. Tourists love the place, but you can get the same cheddar in Market Basket.

    3 Replies
    1. re: bewley

      Yes, I can see that now. Sugar Hill is gorgeous, and it's a fun place to "find", but you're spot on.

      1. re: pinehurst

        Not as touristy as Vermont, but Sugar Hill been "discovered".

        1. re: whs

          Whs--absolutely true, which I hate to see on the "quiet side" of the mountains, but no stopping it. Once got a pound of fabulous cheese (provolone) and good capicola at Porfido's market in Littleton, but I think the Littleton Food Coop is the place to beat, now, for buying groceries or picnic eats in that area. And they have the real local stuff which bewley mentioned.

    2. Sugarbush Farm, Woodstock Vt. has, in my opinion, the best sharp white cheddars made in New England. aged 18/36/72 mos. Available on site and on line, not much retail distribution.

      1. Interesting that personal food taste preferences dominate this review. Harman's is most definitely a small town, country store. The store features their cheese, made in upstate New York, specifically for them. Personally, I LOVE the cheese, and apparently a lot of other people do to, since Harman's literally sells tons of it. Much of it by mail-order to people who visited, decided they had great cheese and products, and order over and over again. I began ordering from Harman's for my holiday gifts a few years ago for famiily and friends who live throughout the country. They now request Harman's products, and wait anxiously every year for their shipment. :-)

        I would have to assume the trinkets being referred to are the specialty foods (jams, spreads, syrup, some cured / smoked meats, etc), locally made pottery, local books, postcards featuring photos from the Sugar Hill area. The cheese prices are in line with or less than comparable cheeses, As a lover of Harman's cheese, I can vouch for the price... a half pound block of their aged cheddar (normally aged at least 2 years) is about $6.95, which is actually less than Cabot's half pound blocks for comparable cheese. And personally I like Harman's better. Not only is their regular aged cheddar really good, their smoked cheddar is exceptional. It is smoked at a local New Hampshire smokehouse. But, that, again, is a matter of taste preference. It's not something I would base a review of the store on.

        If you are looking for a quaint, small town store with a lot of history and local items, you will like Harman's. If you are looking for cheap, run of the mill cheese, in a large, tourist crowded place, go somewhere else. We love Harman's as apparently do many, many other people who visit and order year after year.

        8 Replies
        1. re: ELWarren

          A friend gives me a block of Harman's cheese some years for Christmas and I treasure every morsel of it, for my taste it is the best cheddar I have had outside of England.

          1. re: ELWarren

            Right you are that it is indeed tiny ELWarren, so I was expecting that it would be more devoted to cheese, not a wall of hot chocolate mixes, mustards, etc. If it were the size of Stonewall Kitchen in ME, sure, but not for a shop the size of most folks' living rooms (or mine...which is small). Why not just let the cheese shine, or if they must sell non-cheese items, let them be stuff that would complement their mainstay. If I wanted kitsch, I'd go to Santa's Village or StoryLand. It's not a large tourist place, but it's a tourist place. So be it. I was surprised.

            I would hardly call the local cheeses at Littleton Food Coop run of the mill. If you've had them, you know what I mean. I'm not saying Harman's cheese is awful by any means--just that the shop was decidedly not what I expected, and that I found other excellent cheese in the area. The atmosphere was simply not my cuppa, however, mail order folks seem to fare better.


            1. re: pinehurst

              I should hope that calling something "no better than Cabot" wasn't an insult. Cabot makes really great cheese. :)

              1. re: Morganna

                That's the real point. You go to Cabot Creamery because they make the cheese. Harman's is a reseller just like Calef’s General Store in Barrington, New Hampshire. Whether or not they do their own onsite aging as both places claim is up for debate.

                I will say Cabot is way overpriced now in the past few years (it's not the bargain it used to be). Two years or so ago the price of dairy rose because of fuel prices. Cabot raised their prices as well. MIlk and everything came back to market prices, Cabot never did.

                We were in Sugar Hill last week (Polly's Pancakes) and I would have loved to have tried the smoked cheddar ELWarren mentions.

                1. re: bewley

                  OH, heh, I live near it, so it's cheaper for me to get. I'm always getting it on sale. :)

                2. re: Morganna

                  You are sooooo right! Cabot makes great cheese. I am just a cheese lover (and cheese-a-holic) and like lots and lots of different cheese. Including both Harman's and Cabot. Like most cheese lovers... I like them all for different reasons, and can 'spread the love' :-)

                  1. re: Morganna

                    Roger that, and in my neck of the woods (very Northern Mass) Cabot is often on sale (their Vermont Cheddar, for example) for ridiculously good prices. I like Cabot a lot! But I also love Grafton and Cobb Hill cheeses (props to VT, Morganna) which I cannot get at Harman's, and my beloved Landaff cheese. LOTS of very good cheeses in Northern New England.

                    1. re: pinehurst

                      Yeah, the best place for really good, INEXPENSIVE local cheese that I've found (by which I mean I am VERY unfamiliar with the southern part of the state) is Cheese Traders in South Burlington. They have such a wide variety of cheese there from local producers. There's also a brilliant cheese case at the Hunger Mountain Coop in Montpelier. And even at Price Chopper, they're carrying a pretty good selection of Vermont Cheeses at reasonable prices. Oh man, I WANT CHEESE now :)