The wilds of northern New Jersey may be the last place many people would expect to find an artisanal cheesemaking business.
But I'm not talking about the industrial New York City suburbs. This is about bucolic, semi-rural Sussex County, home to the Bobolink Dairy. On the face of things, it's as earthy-crunchy a place as you could imagine.
Home-grown and handmade are the way to do things here. Jonathan and Nina White, both refugees from Manhattan, bought the 200-acre spread back in the 1990s. Today, they make and market a dozen kinds of cheese, hearth-bake artisanal bread for commercial release, and sell a line of grass-fed beef and veal, too.
The cheeses themselves are dense, fully textured varieties. The often out-of-stock Jean Louis swirls with lush, grassy flavors. It was even served at the White House during the Clinton years.
Bobolink's most commonly available cheese is probably its Cave-Aged Cheddar. It's creamy and sweet, sharp enough but not quite as biting as some older Cheddars from the British Isles. But it has a warm, buttery mouthfeel that wins you over in an instant.
Befitting a mom-and-pop affair, it can sometimes be hard to find the cheeses, though the Whites are present at farmer's markets throughout the New York metropolitan area, including the one in Union Square in Manhattan. Better cheesemongers in the Northeast also stock them.
You can also buy directly from the farm, via their folksy Web site. Click here for details.