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September 21, 2010 / joyful plate

Mecox Bay Dairy, Raw & Uncensored

First, we want to thank Art Ludlow of Mecox Bay Dairy for treating us to a very personal visit to the farm and to his home. We visited a few weeks back while on vacation in Long Island.

Mecox Dairy was recently featured in the summer issue of Edible East End, so this entry will be brief. A friend of ours saw the article, called Art, and he was kind enough to give us a personal tour.

The Ludlow’s have a background in potato farming and their family has been working the land in Bridgehampton since the late 1800’s. A few years ago Art had an epiphany and realized the soil that had yielded potatoes for generations would be wonderfully fertile for raising dairy cows. An artisanal dairy was born.

Raw milk artisanal cheese is the new livelihood of Art and his family at Mecox Bay. Today, Art manages the cows and cheese and his brother, Harry, the farmstand. They have committed to maintaining a small production, selling mainly in the Hamptons (although we’re optimistic that Eli’s in NYC will also stock it, given that Eli’s Farmers market in Amagansett is an existing customer). The farm is totally sustainable and uses no chemicals whatsoever. The cheeses vary by the season as the cows graze on grass in the summer and hay in the winter.

The real deal

Our visit began with a walk into the (oh so fragrant!) cow stalls….they have 12 Jersey cows in total at Mecox, producing up to 45 pounds of cheese a day. On the wall in the milking parlor was a fertility and gestation chart to help plan the breeding process. This chart made me feel connected to something bigger- a natural and normal process that I’ve never given much thought to when enjoying cheese with a glass of wine. Here is Art below, with a calf that was just born the day before -so sweet.

Cheese Making 101

We asked Art for a really basic explanation of how cheese is made. First, the milk is heated to 95 degrees. Then, a freeze-dried culture is added which contains bacteria that will consume the lactose in the milk. Next, a coagulant binds the cheese and after an hour, the curd (solids) are cut -and the whey is released (the liquid by product left over from the cheese that makes ricotta, for example).

Mold is a good thing

The mold protects the cheese-the larger cheese, the more protection. Cheese has something in common with wine-it can age for 10, 20 years given the right conditions (55 degrees, 85% humidity). In order to sell raw milk cheese, the aging takes a minimum 60 days before it can go public (since it’s not actually pasteurized).

Making our Full English breakfast fuller

We were invited by our English friend in the Springs for an overnight stay later in the week and Mecox cheese “Atlantic Mist” and “Shawondasee” was the best hostess gift we could imagine.

We had the works: white pudding, eggs, bangers, slab bacon and sautéed tomatoes-along with Mecox Dairy’s gorgeous fresh cheeses to add a local American twist.

The breakfast of champions!


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2 Comments

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  1. camilla / Sep 21 2010 6:27 pm

    This is fantastic! Is the farm open to the public on certain days or do they do tours by appointment or is it totally private? I just love this movement and your blog!
    C

    • joyful plate / Sep 21 2010 6:39 pm

      Thanks, Camilla. The Ludlow’s are really busy on the farm, I don’t think they have public tours but I’d imagine Art would do the same kind of private tour he did for us, you and Aldo would just love him. The farmstand has local berry preserves, honey and all kinds of goodies. And, it’s right down the street from the ocean so you can catch some rays and some waves! Grazie, Michelle

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