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Patty Kaczmarczyk and George Eldi. (Credit: Tara Smith)

Stepping into the gourmet Cheese & Spice market is a feast for the senses. On one wall, brightly colored jars of loose teas and spices sourced from around the world emit aromas of flower petals and saffron, freshly roasted coffee and spicy cinnamon waft through the air and a dizzying array of cheeses and cured meats are put on display.

Owner Patty Kaczmarczyk recently added a fifth bottle of champagne to a display shelf behind the counter to mark five years in business at the Shoppes at East Wind in Wading River.

Shortly after opening in October 2016, Kaczmarczyk convinced her friend George Eldi to open a boutique wine shop at the same retail center, Wines by Nature.

“She was one of the first tenants,” Eldi recalled in a recent interview from his shop, which is also approaching its fifth anniversary. “We were here for her grand opening and she whispered, ‘You know, Wading River needs a proper bottle shop.’”

Located just steps away from one another, the shops make a complementary pair—and not just because cheese and wine together are a no-brainer.

Kaczmarczyk and Eldi were friends in a past life, as she worked in restaurants, including La Plage in Wading River, and Eldi as a wine rep for nearly two decades. 

“That’s why it works. We feed off of each other,” Kaczmarczyk said. 

Eldi’s eyes light up when a customer walks in with a brown paper bag from the Cheese & Spice Market in tow.

“I’ll say, ‘OK, what’s in the bag?’ Everyone usually goes to the cheese shop first. We tell them to go get the food and then we’ll pair the wine.”

For soft cheeses, Eldi recommends an aromatic white wine like sauvignon blanc, or even sparkling wines, which are super versatile and can be paired with almost anything.

Firmer, saltier cheeses love full-bodied, tannic reds while semi-soft cheeses enjoy softer reds like pinot noir. And one of Eldi’s favorite pairings of all time? Lambrusco, a sparkling Italian red wine, with cured meats.

Surprisingly, you’ll find much more than cheese and salumi in Kaczmarczyk’s market. 

There’s of course a wide variety of imported, domestic and local cheese: sweet, sharp aged cheddars to pungent, stinky blues and creamy bries from near — Goodale Farms in Riverhead, Mecox Bay Dairy in Bridgehampton, upstate New York — and far.

You can also find all the accouterments you could ever imagine for the cheeseboard of your dreams: fresh baguettes, crackers made from spent brewery grains, artisanal chocolate, jams, honeys, pickled veggies, duck mousse, pâtés and even Peconic Escargot.

For a balanced cheese board, Kaczmarczyk offers this tip: mix and match cow, goat and sheep’s cheese in varying textures and flavors.

“My goal is to introduce people to good food,” Kaczmarczyk said, noting that she sources products from over 100 small businesses and vendors. “I want people to be able to come in and say ‘Oh, I’ve never heard of that.’”

Similarly, in Eldi’s wine shop, you may find yourself staring at unfamiliar labels. He prefers it that way.

“The trust factor [with customers] is 1,000. You’re looking at a bunch of wines you’ve never seen before. But if it doesn’t blow us away, we don’t carry it,” he said.

It’s become a go-to shop for oenophiles and local chefs — but don’t let that intimidate you.

Eldi loves chatting with customers and educating them about the many small batch, family-run wineries and distilleries he showcases. New York and Long Island wines are prominent, as are spirits made locally, in the Finger Lakes, Adirondacks and Hudson Valley.

To appreciate local wine, Eldi recommends pairing it with local food.

“What grows together goes together,” he said. “A cab franc with crescent duck? It’s a home run. Local clams and oysters with an aromatic white — it’s perfect. You won’t get that with a little tasting.”

Prior to the pandemic, Eldi and Kaczmarczyk frequently teamed up for regular tasting events, cooking demonstrations and other seminars. While they wait for the all-clear to revive those events, they’ve adapted to find other ways to connect with clients by offering local delivery of wines, spirits and custom cheese platters, as well as working with local chefs and businesses to curate wine picks. Most recently, Eldi partnered with Thomas Infantolino of Blue Water Fish seafood market in Wading River to chat about his picks to pair with shrimp, scallops, tuna, salmon and lobster.

Together, Kaczmarczyk and Eldi have over 70 years of combined experience in food and wine and have enjoyed life after careers in the grueling restaurant industry.

“We’re lucky we have each other,” Kaczmarczyk said.

You can find both shops at The Shoppes at East Wind, located at 5768 Route 25A in Wading River and visit them online at and