Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bobolink Dairy Farm

We were just beginning to settle in from the trip back to my hometown (more on that soon, I promise) when
we decided to make use of the rental car still in our possession and take a day-trip someplace. After a little brainstorming, my husband and I landed on a not-too-far-away from the city option, one that we even kind of knew what we were getting ourselves into. Perfect.

Bobolink Dairy Farm is a place I'd already grown quite fond of from my weekly jaunts to the farmers market, buying their delicious wood fired breads and pack-a-punch raw, pastured cheeses. I thought it could only get better - to bask in a little nature and find out exactly how they make their wonderful products and even take some home for myself? Bonus! We *did* have to re-stock the fridge now that we were home, anyway...

Nina, who owns the farm with her husband Jonathan, showed us the lay of the land, along with her daughter and two sweet farm dogs. On almost 185 acres, the meadows and semi-wooded hills which comprise the terrain serve as pasture to their herd of hearty, gorgeous cows. They roam and graze on choice clover and grasses, en plein air as it should be. 

It was calving season and we saw numerous young ones, each more curious than the next. I think it was only the noise of my shutter that kept them from coming up to sniff and nuzzle me.

 Nina allows her cows to nurse their calves for longer than most dairy farmers, so that they in turn can grow stronger and become the resilient creatures they need to be to live a good, long life. There is the brief misery of finaling weaning them (mama and babe calling to each other for about 48 hours), but life does go on. 

The beauty is that at Bobolink, they just let their cows be cows. No physical restriction in feeding, therefore no need to de-horn them (they will become competitive if there is a perceived scarcity/holding); no perversion of diet (i.e. no corn, soy, etc.) so they graze to their hearts' content, as ruminants were born to do. At the milking salon, as it is called, the cows are milked for less than a half-hour a day - done! - to leave them to be the animals they are out on the pasture, with the rest of the herd. This is a model for how raising animals should be (and was, before industrialized food came along). We - of course - want the best we can feed ourselves and our families. Here, the intrinsic nature of these creatures is honored and beautiful food is the result. Seems pretty simple, right?  

And then there was the cheese. Such robust and toothsome cheese! We did not bring home nearly enough, let me just say that. 

Along with ameraucana eggs, some wild turkey pâté, and of course our cheese, we stocked up on a loaf of Bobolink wood-fired cheese bread and a hefty 4lb partial-wheel of their fantastic Medieval Levain Olive Rye. That is how bread should be.

As the day wore on, we were graced with the sunshine. It was enough to make me linger just a little longer, long enough to discover some neighbor chickens and wildly blooming poppies along the house. The blossoms took my breath away...

We had an immensely good time. Connecting to the earth and where our food comes from is one of my greatest joys, and I hope in sharing it with all of you, you're inspired to plan a trip for yourselves. Be sure to stock up on good eating while you're there. ;)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rainy Day Williamsburg

Flowers have been planted around the tree in front of my house. I am freshly back from a fantastic trip to my hometown. But, those sweet bits are not what this story is about. Just before leaving on my trip home - a nonstop week of meetings, cleaning, and packing to depart, and cooking everything left in my refrigerator - my friend Katie Quinn Davies was in town, as part of a three week whirlwind USA trip (I'm starting to think that's the only way she travels!)... and dear Valery Rizzo - another super food photographer - offered to be our tour guide around Williamsburg as we ventured for lunch and then bopped around.

I spotted a cool photo-shoot in progress as I descended the J train steps. It immediately reminded me of the work of Denis Darzacq, with the talent twirling sideways in the air, seemingly repeatable on-command. That guy did it about 12 times, and that's just when I paused to watch. This kind of thing is one of the many which I love about Brooklyn. You never know what kind of unusual and completely cool (or zany - random - surreal) thing you'll come across. :-)

It was a rainy day. We lunched at Marlow & Sons and began our sight-seeing from there. Drizzling and occasionally more, we weren't deterred. We came to some of my favorite spots, and also landed new highlights for my Billyburg destination map. (Thanks, Valery!) With the fun we had, you'd think we had the fortune to play in the sunshine....


From diners to bric-a-brac shops, late afternoon cocktails to chocolate tastings, it was a grand time.

Enjoy the rain droplets wetting your skin. Find someplace new and get lost. Go someplace familiar and re-discover it for yourself again. There is beauty in everything!