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Telltale Tesla

August 26, 2014

(Believe it or not, this is actually a post about milk)

A million years ago I worked on a project for General Motors called the EV-1. It was their electric vehicle, and it never quite found mainstream success. I’m not going to get into all the gory details here, but if you’re interested, you should take me out for a few drinks sometime.

Despite it all, I became a big fan of electric cars.

Back in the day I’d get giddy with delight when a new public charging station opened. There were a few around San Francisco and each one was a pretty major affair. After all, the number of electric cars on the road was minuscule. Each charging station was an exercise in unbridled optimism for the future.

There are two things that I never ever expected to see in Albany. One of them was a Whole Foods. The other was a Tesla Supercharger, which in just 30 minutes can power up their electric car to drive 170 miles. As they say in this town, “That’s huuuuge.”

What are the chances than that both of these things would be mere feet from each other?

Albany is clearly a region in transition, and it’s an exciting time to be here. Both ethnic diversity and disposable incomes appear to be increasing. When we first moved here in 2007, a BMW or a Mercedes was a rare sight on the roads, especially compared to their ubiquity in San Francisco. Now I see luxury cars all the time. But still, we have a Tesla charging station?

Even more shocking, on a recent visit to Colonie Center (where the Supercharger has been installed) there were actual Teslas recharging their batteries. I’m dumbfounded. As far as I’m concerned it’s just about as likely as seeing an elephant roaming the streets of Philadelphia.

This influx of money gives me hope that the Whole Foods can survive in such a cold and desolate land.

That’s a great thing, because Whole Foods’ rotisserie chickens are delicious. Sure, they aren’t cheap. But I don’t have to go looking through the clamshell cases in the hope that one will be “sustainably raised”. All of the meat sold at Whole Foods has to clear their minimum thresholds of sustainability. Yes, maybe I could find a happier chicken at a farmers’ market, but given its convenience, this is good enough for me.

Last week, Whole Foods also stocked challah from Zomick’s. We discovered this New York challah when on sabbatical in Princeton, and it quickly became the family favorite.

But the coup de grace was Ronnybrook’s creamline whole milk in their thick, returnable glass jars.

I am not a milk drinker. I’m not. If I were to venture a guess about ranking the liquids that pass through my lips by volume, I’d say it would have to be: Coffee, beer, wine, iced tea, water, seltzer, bourbon, gin, juice, and finally milk.

That said, I’ve been trying to get my hands on a bottle of this Ronnybrook stuff for a while. Yes, I know they have it at Honest Weight. However, that store has yet to really make it into my rotation. Mostly, it’s a matter of location.

Ronnybrook’s creamline milk is the fluid dairy of choice for butter lovers. It’s unhomogenized, which means it has a layer of cream floating on the top. Nobody would be surprised to learn that the first thing I did upon cracking open this bottle was to spoon a bit of the cream right onto my fat tooth.

Holy cow that was good. The pleasure from just that one little bite was worth the price of the entire bottle. And the bottle isn’t cheap. Once I had made a bit of room at the top of the bottle, so I could shake the cream into the rest of the liquid milk, I poured myself a glass. Damn, that was good too.

This is honest to goodness milk. And that’s a very very rare thing to find these days.

The cows get to feed on grass. Most of the other feed is grown on the farm. There are no synthetic hormones used. The milk is very gently pasteurized to 170 degrees, so it’s not cooked to death. Homogenization doesn’t make the milkfat molecules artificially small (which they claim has health benefits to boot). And the whole package is sold in an environmentally friendly reusable glass bottle, which helps to keep the milk extra cold as well.

Ronnybrook is as close to the milk of my dreams that I’ve been able to find. And it’s delicious.

I don’t drive a Tesla. So to me, this stuff is expensive. But I don’t mind. I savor every sip. I delight in every spoonful that coats my breakfast cereal. It’s a real treat, and brings me more than its share of pleasure. Ultimately, it’s just a few bucks. A bottle of the best milk I can find still costs less than a cocktail at the speakeasy (which in itself is still a good value).

Yes, the new Whole Foods is a pricey place to shop. But our region really seems to be attracting wealthier consumers. This is going to have a really interesting effect on the face of the area. I’m glad I am around to watch it happen.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 26, 2014 10:12 am

    Don’t remember the price, but the Albany Shop Rite carried that milk the last time I was there.

    • August 26, 2014 10:45 am

      I remember them carrying it too. But I’ve been making the rounds of the local Shop Rite stores, and haven’t been seeing it. My guess is that Shop Rite shoppers just weren’t ready to cough up the money for the good stuff (or weren’t made fully aware of just how good Ronnybrook is in comparison to conventional whole milk).

      • August 26, 2014 12:09 pm

        I used to get it at the Slingerlands Shoprite but as you say I think they stopped selling the milk. They still have some of the other Ronnybrook products though.

  2. August 26, 2014 10:45 am

    The challah is delicious.. thanks for the recommendation.

  3. August 26, 2014 11:45 am

    I’m embarrassed to admit the amount of Ronnybrook chocolate milk I drink per week (ask our buddy Greg Dahlman, who just witnessed me downing an entire quart in about 15 mintues).

    • Greg permalink
      August 27, 2014 1:11 pm

      It was an impressive — yet still dignified — display of chocolate milk consumption.

  4. August 26, 2014 12:07 pm

    If anyone is interested in cheese-making then they should also know that Ronnybrook Cream-line whole milk is not homogenized. This is rare to find in a wholesale milk. I have a 4 gallon cheddar made from Ronnybrook cream-line aging away in my cheese fridge as we speak.

    However, Ronnybrook inexplicably makes some of the worst and most overrated egg nog that I have ever tasted…. Their ice cream sucks too. I just don’t get it.

  5. Beck permalink
    August 26, 2014 4:32 pm

    They carry a small selection of Ronnybrook products at the Wolf Road Hannaford, including their milk, yogurts, and butter.

  6. August 27, 2014 1:21 pm

    Have you tried Cowbella’s unhomogenized milk yet? I just picked some up at Honest Weight but haven’t finished my previous bottle yet.

  7. August 30, 2014 12:01 am

    Glad to hear that some of the national chains are stocking local milk. I’ve picked up Meadow Brook at Honest Weight which is unhomogenized. They also do home delivery: http://alloveralbany.com/archive/2011/03/22/milk-delivery-options-capital-region and
    http://m.timesunion.com/living/article/Cream-of-the-crop-5291139.php

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