I'm a self-professed Top Chef nerd. There's a lot to learn from the show. Dispersed within the drama and elimination challenge madness, there lurks thought-provoking, insightful commentary on food philosophy. Consider for a moment Dale's recent monologue comparing two fellow competitors: While the accomplished yet callous Hung is a more skilled chef, Dale believes that sweet, respectful Casey is the one to beat because you can't create soulful food without a heart. Cooking food is much like cooking curd, so to speak, and few cheesemakers illustrate Dale's point better than Bobolink Dairy's Jonathan and Nina White. They're staunch supporters of sustainable, grass-based agriculture and vocal critics of farming methods that favor productivity over quality and respect for the land. Their cows are milked based on their natural lactation cycle, and aren't fed animal by-products or hormones like many conventional dairies. With such reverence for the land and the quality of their milk, it's no wonder you can taste their thoughtfulness in their high-quality products. The result is a series of raw cow milk cheeses, all made from the milk of grass-fed, free-grazing Bobolink Blacks, their signature, farm-bred cross between some familiar dairy breeds with the ancient, highly intelligent Kerry cattle of Ireland.
Of particular interest is Drumm, their semi-firm offering, which at two months becomes oozy under the rind. The flavor is mildly funky, with distinct notes of straw and buttermilk. Above all, the creamy texture dominates, and you're left with a lovely, buttery finish best complimented by some crusty bread from Bobolink's farm-fresh bread offerings. You'll find Bobolink cheeses and breads at the Union Square Greenmarket every Friday, at the Lincoln Center Greenmarket every Thursday and Saturday, and at cowsoutside.com. -Nora S.