Beginner’s Guide to UnBRIElievable Hamptons Cheese Shops

Cavaniola’s Gourmet cheeses, Photo: Megan Overton
Cavaniola’s Gourmet cheeses, Photo: Megan Overton

You like your local wines, seafood and produce…what can cap off a locavore’s dream meal? Cheese, of course!

On the South Fork, turophiles flock to Mecox Bay Dairy at 855 Mecox Road in Bridgehampton, where Art Ludlow and his family have been making award-winning cheeses since 2003. Among the cheeses on offer are the Atlantic Mist, which is a kind of cross between Brie and Camembert. Creamy and rich, with that elusive mushroomy essence prized by true Brie aficionados, a chunk of Atlantic Mist served on a slice of baguette alongside a chilled local rosé will not disappoint.

Also nice is the Mecox Sigit, named after the matriarch of the Ludlow family. It’s aged for two years, and is a dry, sharp cheese—a perfect match for a Long Island cab franc. The Farmhouse Cheddar is comparatively young—aged eight months—and so is sweeter and milder. The funkiest of Ludlow’s cheeses is the Mecox Sunrise, a washed-rind tomme aged for three months—a cheese that could stand up to the heartiest reds the East End has to offer. Stop by the Farm Store to sample these and the other cheeses they make.

And make no mistake, the Ludlows keep their cheese seriously local. Not only does all of the milk come from their own cows pastured right there in Bridgehampton, but son Peter Ludlow plants, grows and harvests all of the feed for the cows on the Ludlow’s historic acreage overlooking the Atlantic surf.

On the other hand, if it’s fresh mozzarella you want—and you’ll definitely want that for your post-party poolside pizzas—then Red Horse Market is your reliable source. At Red Horse, located at 74 Montauk Highway in East Hampton, they hand make their fresh mozzarella daily with buffalo milk sourced from upstate New York.

More offerings at Cavaniola’s Gourmet, Photo: Megan Overton
More offerings at Cavaniola’s Gourmet, Photo: Megan Overton

Sag Harbor Village’s Schiavoni’s Market, which was founded by Italian brothers in 1941, also offers a housemade mozzarella in great gobs and in the smaller ciliegine form at 48 Main Street.

Of course, not everybody has the time to take the leisurely South Fork wine and cheese tour envisioned here. But what if you could accomplish some of the same effect by just stopping in at one location? Cavaniola’s Gourmet shops, all located at 89 Division Street in Sag Harbor, make that possible. First, stop in at Cavaniola’s Cellar, located in the historic Umbrella House (ca. 1790), for a bottle of local wine—they carry wine from Wölffer Estate Vineyard, Channing Daughters Winery and Palmer Vineyards. Then step over to Cavaniola’s Cheese Shop, which offers a wide selection of domestic and imported cheeses. Although Cavaniola’s doesn’t carry many local cheeses, they do have some great selections that can be hard to find elsewhere. Voila, your work is done—time to party!

These days, there’s a lot of ways to “say cheese” on the East End.

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