Friday, August 24, 2007

Bobolink Dairy & Bakeyard

Every time I walk to the Union Square farmers’ market in New York on Friday mornings I feel great as soon as I see the little Bobolink Dairy stand. I think this is because it renews my belief that food may be changing for the better in this country, that what really counts, passion and an appreciation of the best local ingredients, is actually taking hold.

That is what Nina & Jonathan White, the Bobolink cheesemakers, are commited to. Let’s start with the cheeses. Their cows are pasture raised on 200 acres of land. The Whites make cheese from April through November from 100% grass-fed milk. They produce 12 different cheeses but depending on the time of year you usually have only 4-5 to choose from. They also make bread. Today, as I was waiting in line, a gentleman ordered two loaves of ciabatta. I noticed his accent and asked him if he were from Italy. He said yes, but that he now lived in NY. He explained that ciabatta meant shoe or slipper. I wondered whether he often came to buy his bread and cheese here. Every week he said.

The three cheeses that I bought today are all made from 100% raw cow’s milk and as far as I am concerned are some of the best cheeses in the world! The Drum is a robust cheese that is aged for 60 days. Everytime I serve it people think I smuggled it from France. The Frolic is a semi firm cheese with a very subtle finish. The cave-aged cheddar is mild and elegant.

Now to the breads: They are all baked in a wood-fired brick oven and made with organic grains and natural yeasts. Today I got the rosemary loaf, but I also love the rye levain with brine-cured Kalamata olives, and the loaf made with garlic and duck fat.

Here is more good news: Bobolink ships across the country so their bread and cheese are something everyone can try. They are at the Union Square location every Friday and the Lincoln Center greenmarket every Thursday and Saturday. Otherwise they are at their farm. Check their great website where you can get much more information on their philosophy, events, and products.

Bobolink dairy & Bakeyard

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gramercy Tavern

I recently had a 5:30 meeting at the bar of Gramercy Tavern. The dining room was gradually filling up, and as I sat there watching people order delicious looking food, I decided to ask for a menu too. I hadn’t eaten at Gramercy Tavern for a year or so but I’ve always liked the food and the wine list. I was given two menus, one for the bar and the other for the main dining room. I looked them over and decided to stay on after my meeting and have an early dinner at the bar.

By the time I began mulling over my order, the place was already full with a waiting list for tables and the bar. I started with an heirloom tomato and bread salad that was lovely. I’ve been eating farm fresh tomatoes for the past two weeks and these were perfectly ripe. The toasted cubes of bread rubbed with garlic were a nice compliment and the whole salad sat on a bed of tomato water. The selection of wines by the glass was exceptional. I ordered a glass of the 2006, Ried Vogelsang, made by Heidi Schrock from Burgenland, Austria. Schrock blends really interesting grapes from that region and this wine was fantastic. I’ve also tasted her Muscat and Welschrieslin and they are amazing as well especially at this time of year.

The next course, smoked trout on a bed of celery purée with a pickled onion vinaigrette, was a compliment from the chef who knows I am Food Editor at House & Garden. This happens from time to time and is a delightful perk of my job. I loved the subtle infusion of smokiness and the mineral and earthiness of the trout. It also was great with the wine. For my main course I ordered chicken with baby carrots and turnips. A simple dish, perfectly prepared: variously colored baby carrots and turnips with deliciously tender, moist chicken. I meant to ask where he gets his chicken but forgot.

I passed on dessert and cheese because I didn’t have time, but I am going to go back. As I left Jim Meehan, the head bartender, thanked me for coming and said he was impressed that a food editor would eat at the bar. I thanked him and told him that eating at the bar is one of my favorite things to do, especially with an experience like this one.

Gramercy Tavern
42 East 20th Street
NYC 10003

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Live for Bubby’s Burrito’s

For me there is no place like New York or the east coast for that matter in the summer. New York City starts slowing down, and it’s all about getting away for the weekends, going to the beaches, eating great meals with friends and just chilling out. The farm stands are full of great produce and all the roadside food stands are hopping.

Such was my experience last weekend. I went to visit some friends up in Rhinebeck in the Hudson Valley and I stopped at my favorite Farm stand Montgomery Place off of 9G. Right next door to the farm stand is the coolest and most original roadside food stop I’ve been. It’s called Bubby’s Burrito’s. It’s owned by a couple that divides their year between Rhinebeck and San Miguel Mexico where they have another café. They bought a trailer for 200 dollars and set up a little outdoor kitchen and offer a very simple menu. Rice and bean burritos, ( they serve no meat), cheese quesadilla’s and agua de frutas. The food is delicious, simple and the secret is a griddle they use to heat the tortillas for both the burrito’s and quesadillas which add a nice flavor. It’s cash only and when I asked how many burritos’ they sold they were very reluctant to answer. I think more than they want anyone to know about.

I knew I was going so I packed a bottle of 2006 Vietti Arneis on ice which is one of my favorite white wines to drink in the summer, thought it would go well with the food and Indeed it did. Ice cold, crispy, some gorgeous round fruit it stood up to the burrito and quesadilla, no problem. ( they don’t encourage drinking so do so discreetly if at all).

Its grass root operations like this that are so pleasurable because they are real and innocent at the same time and I think more and more people are looking for that these days, especially at lunch in the summer. The crowd is very BARD as they say in the Hudson Valley. Bard University is immediately adjacent to Bubby’s. If you you haven’t seen the Richard B. Fisher Performing Arts Center that was designed by Frank Ghery you are missing one of the most amazing sites ever. I’m going back to Rhinebeck at the end of August and can’t wait to back for a visit.

Bubby’s Burrito’s
Route 9G
Red Hook, NY
Open May thru September
Everyday but Tuesday