By ELISA UNG, SUNDAY, AUGUST 19, 2012; Via NorthJersey.com
This month, Corner Table takes you behind the scenes of some of the most unique, responsibly produced foods available in North Jersey.
At Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, they like to say they turn sunlight and rain into cheese.
You’ll taste the grass from the milk of grazing cows in the Frolic. The soft Amram surprises with a lively fermented flavor. The cave-aged cheddar falls off in chunks with a full sharpness. And in a few months, all these cheeses might taste much different — longer aging makes them deep and complex, sometimes even chocolaty.
“If you try to make it more consistent, it’s just not going to be as interesting,” said Nina White, who runs the Hunterdon County farm with her husband, Jonathan.
That about sums up their life’s work. The Whites’ small-scale, back-to-nature raw-milk cheeses, hearth-baked breads and grass-fed beef, pork and suckled veal have been internationally recognized: They’ve been featured in Gourmet magazine; Anthony Bourdain taped an episode of “No Reservations” on their farm; food activist and author Michael Pollan served their cheeses at his book party for “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”
Jonathan (who grew up in Teaneck) and Nina are also celebrating Bobolink’s 10th anniversary this summer, and reflecting on the changed environment: “There’s an increased awareness of the type of food we’re producing. Our market grows, because of the need for what we provide,” Nina said.
Instead of keeping cows indoors and feeding them grain, the Whites let Liberty, Joan of Arc and the rest of their 28 cows roam around their 185-acre grassy farm. They turn the rich milk into unpasteurized cheeses, and each year harvest three to four animals for grass-fed beef.
All of this entails a world of challenges for a couple who work around the clock doing much of the dirty work themselves: building wood fires for bread, finding veterinarians who don’t just tell them to keep the cows indoors; spending hours at farmers’ markets along with their staff to sell the product directly to consumers and not through supermarkets; keeping chickens (who help with pest control) from getting mowed down on the road in front of their farm.
“You know, I’m trying to save the world here, could you slow down a little bit?” Nina grumbled at one speeding car.