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A selection of cheeses inside of The Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck. (Credit: Tara Smith)

Shopping in a fromagerie can be overwhelming.

There are hundreds of cheeses to choose from: creamy bries and pungent raclettes, sharp cheddars and tangy bleus.

Selecting from sheep, cow and goat milks, countries, regions, styles, price ranges, it can be dizzying to decide where to start.

One thing I’ve learned: at a spot like the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck, your local cheesemonger is always willing to help with a recommendation, a story, pairing advice and if you’re lucky, a taste.

We spoke with owner Michael Affatato about the bestsellers in the Love Lane shop, which he took over in 2015.

Michael Affatato and Leah Tillman. (Credit: Tara Smith)
Beemster XO

Style: Gouda
Origin: Netherlands
Milk type: Pasteurized cow

It’s the perfect cross between salty and sweet. Crumbly and golden with notes of butterscotch and salt. Fun fact: the XO stands for Extra Old, like in cognac and brandy.

Fromage d’Affinois

Style: Double-cream brie
Origin: Rhones-Alpes, France
Milk type: Pasteurized cow

Soft, silky and tangy. Affatato recommends heating under the broiler for just a few minutes. “It’ll bubble up and settle like a souffle,” he said. “Then you can jump in with bread or apples.”

Catapano cranberry goat

Style: Chèvre
Origin: Peconic, N.Y.
Milk type: Pasteurized goat

Local and award winning, Affatato said this is hands down one of their bestsellers. “It’s so damn good,” he said. “It’s farmstead, true to its origins and competes with European goat cheeses. And sometimes when they deliver it, it’s still warm.”

Secret de Compostelle

Style: Brebis Pyrénées
Origin: Basque Country, France
Milk type: Raw sheep

A classic mild mountain cheese: floral, grassy and herbaceous. Affatato said many customers are interested in sheep’s milk, which is easier to digest than cow’s milk.

“It’s raw, so you get a clue of what the animals are eating. They’re grazing on grass at high elevations,” he said, adding that it makes a great pair with honey or fruity jam. “A little bit of sugar lift goes a long way,” Affatato said.

Truffle Pecorino Moliterno 

Style: Pecorino
Origin: Sardinia, Italy
Milk type: Raw sheep

Bold, rich and nutty, this traditional pecorino is injected with black truffle paste. And a little goes a long way. Some like to grate it over pasta, risotto or pizza — or even over scrambled eggs in the morning for a luxurious addition to breakfast. Another recommendation is to grate some cheese and put it under the skin before roasting a chicken, allowing it to infuse the meat.


RLM 36-month aged Comté

Style: Alpine
Origin: Franche-Comté, France
Milk type: Raw cow

Don’t sleep on this cheese, described by Affatato as an unsung hero that he directly imports from producer, Rudolph le Meunier. While aging for three years, it develops crunchy crystals called tyrosine and a deep, decadent flavor with nutty, coffee notes. “We sell a ton of this,” Affatato said. “When people taste this, they buy it.”

Pair with a light or medium-bodied red like pinot noir or merlot.