Good cheese requires skill, culture and good milk — which on the North Fork comes from goats, sheep and a few cows.
Here’s a selection to seek out from talented local cheesemakers.
SOFT CHEVRE, Catapano Dairy Farm, Peconic
The North Fork cheese that won national recognition, Catapano chevre is a fresh goat cheese that is mild and nutty. Great smeared on bread or crackers, and equally delightful crumbled into salad or wrapped in a fig leaf, drizzled with olive oil and baked. Available plain or flavored with add-ins like herbs, pepper jam or honey. $12.50 – 4 oz. for $12.75
HANDMADE MOZZARELLA, Lombardi’s of Love Lane, Mattituck
The difference between freshly made mozzarella and the rubbery stuff you encounter in the grocery store is not to be endured. Lombardi’s mozzarella ensures your access to the real deal. It’s homemade, it’s fresh, and it’s great on pizza, in lasagna or melting into your eggplant parm. $12.99 per pound
FETA, Goodale Farms, Riverhead
Firm and slightly salty, the Goodale feta is made with goat’s milk, and is especially good crumbled on salads, or in cubes scattered among an assortment of roasted fall vegetables. 4 oz. for $7.00
HANDMADE MOZZARELLA, Wayside Market, Southold
Father and daughter owners Pasquale and Isabella Z. Rutigliano have handed down the technique and, more importantly, the wooden paddle, to employee Aracely Mazariegos, who can knead a batch of mozzarella in fifteen minutes. “A beast,” Isabella says of Aracely. “It takes most people at least 45.” The Rutiglianos’ process involves extremely hot water and physical strength to fold it. The result is mozzarella so silky and smooth that people come from all over to buy these milky lumps of heaven. $16.99 per pound
RICOTTA, Goodale Farms, Riverhead
A large curd, drained ricotta made from cow and goat milk that is outstanding for cooking, especially in cakes, pancakes and cookies. 16 oz. for $10
SUMMER CLOUD, Catapano Dairy Farm, Peconic
A light colored, crumbly cheese with a touch of lemon, Summer Cloud is a goat milk version of Welsh Caerphilly. This is one of the North Fork’s few aged cheeses, and it’s wonderful sliced or crumbled. 5 oz. for $14.