A new fromagerie-style cheese shop has opened in Cutchogue with a goal of helping you picnic like a Parisian.
Paige Pfeifer, who owns The Cheese Patch wine bar in Patchogue, recently opened the doors at The French Picnic on Griffing Street next to Karen’s Country Deli.
“This has been my dream to be out here,” Pfeifer said on her first official day open last Thursday. “I’m excited to branch out. It’s a little quieter out here and a nice change of pace for me.”
Stepping inside the quaint, French countryside-inspired shop, you’re greeted by the heady aroma of cheese, soft jazz music playing in the background and a friendly Pfeifer, who loves to talk about all things cheese.
Opening her doors on Dec. 1 was fitting as it happened to be the 10th anniversary — to the day — of The Cheese Patch opening in 2012.
Though both are cheese shops, the concept in Cutchogue is very different from Patchogue, which has a tasting bar and seats about 40.
With a much smaller shop, The French Picnic will focus on picnic baskets and boxes for people to grab and go.
“The idea was to open up and offer picnic baskets for people when they’re going to and from the wineries or just coming out, going to the beach, a nice little picnic area or going to visit a friend,” said Pfeifer, who plans to offer both globally and locally inspired cheese boards. “We’ll fill the baskets with all kinds of goodies.”
Each will be paired with a selection of meats, dried fruits, honeys, jams and crackers. For a traditional French picnic, make sure you grab a bit of crusty bread — and don’t forget the wine.
Luckily, Pfeifer has both in her shop, from baguettes and pastries from Mademoiselle Patisserie in Patchogue to a selection of eclectic wines like bold Châteauneuf-du-Pape and varieties like falanghina and bobal.
Pfeifer is hoping to connect with local wine and craft beer producers to carry their bottles in her shop and also offer cheese board selections on their menus.
The pairings are Pfeifer’s love language and it all began with a friend that broadened her culinary horizons through cheese.
“I’ll never forget walking in their house and smelling the cheese just wafting through,” she said of the friends, who she described as well-traveled. “They expanded my palate, introduced me to all of these cool French and German cheeses. I became somewhat addicted!” Pfeifer said.
Her selection includes varieties that span French, Spanish, Italian and American cheeses and she plans to stock locally made products too.
Since Pfeifer opened just after the ideal picnic season on the North Fork, she is focusing on offering charcuterie boards for holiday entertaining and gifting. Her shelves are stocked with an assortment of picnic baskets for sale, from vintage to newer baskets that come equipped with blankets and wine glass holders.
On chilly — but not frigid — days, she’ll also have bistro tables on the sidewalk with heaters and a vintage basket filled with blankets, allowing visitors to enjoy cheese and live music on site.
Cheese boards and baskets may also be available to borrow and Pfeifer eventually hopes to offer tasting flights and pairings in the shop.
The French Picnic is located at 50 Griffing St. in Cutchogue. The winter hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, follow @nofofrenchpicnic on Facebook and Instagram.