My first stop after Vermont was at Bobolink Dairy in Vernon, New Jersey just across the New York boarder. The Dairy is the business & passion of John & Nina White. John, a former engineer, and Nina, a former professional dancer, have been working as stewards of the land in a variety of ways since 1993 when they opened an egg farm 30 miles north of NYC. After several years of making cheese from milk they purchased from nearby farms, they now make cheese with the milk of their own heard. The majority of this beautiful herd is a cross breed of common Jersey, Guernsey, & Ayrshire with Kerry, a rare ancient breed from Ireland. Their happy herd enjoys rotational grazing in a beautiful wooded valley and they even get to keep their horns, which is pretty rare.
From their purely grass-fed milk John makes beautiful cheeses that are aged in a former boxcar, now cheese cave (see pic at top right). The cheeses are mostly sold on premise and at Manhattan farmer's markets. Equally as delicious as the cheese is their wood-fired bread baked 6 days a week in a beautiful custom oven (see pic at right with Nina). Roasted garlic & duck fat bread fresh from the oven? Yes please.
As if the cheese & bread were not enough goodness, the Whites also raise pigs feeding them the whey by-product of the cheese making & stale bread. They are also hoping to get a license to sell cured pork (eh hem...bacon?) produced by these happy pigs. So, all ya'll NYC dwellers should keep your eyes out for a tasty addition to your Union Square Greenmarket. Lucky ducks.
After my lovely visit with John & Nina at the Bobolink Dairy, I stopped at Cherry Grove Farm outside of Princeton, NJ for a walk through their beautiful property (left), and cruised down to Philadelphia for a day of urban cheese exploration. I had a packed schedule beginning with the the Reading Terminal Market. Recommended by a friend of Oliver's, I had no idea what to expect...and it is gigantic. I walked around for the better part of 30 minutes with my jaw dropped before I finally just asked a local where to begin. After gathering a few recommendations, I found myself at Dinic's Roast Pork & Beef for the most delightful & oversized pulled pork sandwhich with broccoli rabe & grilled hot peppers (sorry Phili, I just could not bring myself to indulge in the cheesewhizsteak...cheese food is where I draw the line). This place has nearly everything you could ask for in a market, including a beer garden (interesting...but why not?). The one thing that I can say was missing, unfortunately, is a respectable cheese destination. I was actually worried for a moment. Had Phili abandoned real cheese for the sake of whiz?
Luckily, my next stop at Di Bruno's would put my worries to rest. Artisan cheese galore! The selection was amazing & the service knowledgeable & ready to chat cheese. I was so elated that I became fast friends with the mongers...hence the photog behind the cheese counter. Of course, I left with a hunk of Lazy Lady Farms Trillium (I wish I could quit you!), happy as a clam.
Tria, a wine cheese & beer cafe, was my final Phili stop. Curious about an establishment that claims itself a cheese bar, I could not resist. The menu is 4 pages, a list of beer, wine, cheese, & small plates. While I love the concept, I was disappointed to see that only 5 of the 16 cheeses on the menu were domestic...all of which I had already tasted at Di Bruno's. So, I settled for some delicious roasted beets & chevre, a glass of wine & was on my merry way.
I like you Phili, and your brotherly love. Now, if you could only get the whiz out of your cheesesteaks...may I suggest a clothbound cheddar?