Say you’re on a pleasant tour of North Fork vineyards, steadily accumulating a payload of tasty wines. As the beautiful sunny day slowly progresses to a spectacular evening sunset, and your thoughts turn to getting back home for some poolside sipping, a question suddenly occurs to you: What local food are we going to pair with this fantastic local vino?
The answer, of course, is obvious: cheese! North Fork wines have no better friend than North Fork cheeses, and the North Fork has its own dairies producing a nice variety of unique, delicious cheeses. You can’t get more local than that.
Those looking for locally produced cow and goat milk cheese need look no farther than Goodale Farms, located at 250 Main Road (Route 25) in Aquebogue. The Goodale family has been farming their land since the 1800s, and that means some great cheese. There’s the milder Bojangles Bold Cheddar and the sharper Cappy’s Clothbound Cheddar—you can never really go wrong mixing cheddar with wine. The tangy Danchego is a manchego cheese made with a mix of cow milk and goat milk. There’s also the 100% goat milk Valençay-style cheese, a soft, strong cheese that might pair nicely with one of the East End’s award-winning dessert wines.
They love cheese on Love Lane in Mattituck, at the Village Cheese Shop. There you can find a seemingly endless variety of cheeses to choose from—including local goat cheeses as well as celebrated examples from all over the country and the world. But faced with so many choices, how do you decide which cheeses to take home with you? Well, in addition to offering cheese by the pound, the Village Cheese Shop has an in-house café, serving up cheeseboards, charcuterie boards, fondues, tartines and sandwiches. So you can sample from the variety and get a sense of what you might want to get more of. The cheeseboards are arranged by theme: there’s a French sampler, an Italian sampler, a goat cheese sampler, or Monger’s Choice—three of the staff’s favorites. Wash the savory morsels of dairy goodness down with a coffee drink, and follow with a baked treat. You’re bound to fall in love with some cheese at the Village Cheese Shop!
If you’re craving a goat and/or sheep milk-centric selection of cheeses, then your first stop should be Catapano Dairy Farm at 33705 North Road in Peconic. Catapano’s cheeses have won numerous awards and are found in the East End’s finest restaurants. Naturally, they pair nicely with all kinds of wine. Try their soft, fresh goat milk chèvre or herbed chèvre with a nice dry riesling, or switch to the aged Summer Cloud firm goat cheese with a heartier red. Their Peconic Bel is a versatile semi-firm sheep milk cheese.
If your poolside sipping is going to become a full-fledged meal, Catapano has you covered for some common “ingredient cheeses” as well. Look for their goat milk feta and ricotta, and for their Sundancer, a hard sheep milk cheese in the Romano style. But before you get your face set, note that all of Catapano’s cheeses are seasonal and subject to availability.
Kate’s Cheese Company, at 19 Front Street in Greenport, carries a wide assortment of delectable cheese, served in various ways, each as delicious as the next (see Death by Whiskey Cheddar). You can have yours on a gourmet sandwich; on a custom cheeseboard alongside sweet and savory accoutrements; paired with a craft beer or a glass of local wine. Carry it all away or stay at the beautiful shop with its vintage couches while admiring the the local, rotating artwork.