Lunch for the day: Hudson Red, from Twin Maple Farms, located in Ghent NY, just down the road from my hometown of Philmont. A wonderful washed rind cheese with a subtle pungency, towards the milder and sweeter side on the stink spectrum, with a nice grassy, milky flavor and a semi-soft paste.
Served with a loaf of Rye-Sunflower country bread from Bien Cuit, a great new bakery on Smith St with first-rate breads and baked goods. The crust on this loaf was perfection, with just the right amount of crackle and crunch.
In their recent Dairy issue, Edible Manhattan has the heartbreaking story behind the sudden demise of Milk Thistle Farm, as seen through the lens of Milk Thistle’s once thriving — and delicious — relationship with Chef Christina Tosi and Momofuku Milk Bar:
Christina Tosi is still reeling. The normally high-spirited chef and co-owner of Momofuku Milk Bar, the sugary offshoot of David Chang’s mini-empire, has just gotten some very bad news: Farmer Dante Hesse, who owned a tiny organic dairy called Milk Thistle Farm in Columbia County, and whose milk Tosi regards as the single most important ingredient in her kitchen, is going out of business, the result of a quiet but crippling six-year battle with a seven-figure debt.
“We have such a close relationship with Dante and his family, we believed so much in them and just had so much love for their product,” Tosi said a few days after hearing the news. “I’m heartbroken.”
Milk Thistle’s sudden closure in late January came as a surprise to all—the dairy’s diehard shoppers at the Greenmarkets were stunned—but the news was particularly devastating for Tosi, who views Milk Thistle and Milk Bar as spiritual counterparts, two small, scrappy businesses that grew together and shared a fierce determination to write their own rules and build something without compromising…
…Up until Hesse turned off the spigot in late January, Tosi was going through 100 gallons a week of perhaps the most expensive milk on the East Coast—and says it was worth every penny. And maybe she was being modest, but Tosi really seemed sincere when she said the milk—an ingredient most cooks regard as a blank slate, an interchangeable commodity— was the reason her desserts taste so good.
As a dedicated consumer of Milk Thistle’s products (and my hometown, Philmont, also being just down the road from their farm), I was shocked by the news as well, learning of it when I went to my neighborhood farmer’s market with empty Thistle bottle in hand to exchange and was informed by the folks manning the Grazin’ Angus stand of the bad news. It is such a shame, their milk really was top-notch and their dedication to organic and biodynamic (the quote on the bottle, just above the USDA Organic stamp, is from Rudolph Steiner) farming methods evident. Here’s hoping Dante and his family decide to give dairy farming another try.
(The photo is of my remaining empty Milk Thistle bottle, good only for flowers now)