The Big Cheese

Catapano Dairy - Goats

In July, at the American Cheese Society’s 22nd Annual Conference and Competition in Louisville, Kentucky, the judges gave the chèvre from Catapano Dairy in Mattituck the first place prize in the fresh unripened cheeses category. This cheese, from a 55-goat dairy that has only been in business for three years, beat out two goat cheeses from the renowned Cypress Grove Chèvre in Humboldt County, California.

“I always thought of Cypress Grove as the big boys,” said Michael Catapano, who splits his time between making cheese with his wife Karen and practicing medicine in Wainscott (and who might now be able to justify spending more time making cheese). After introducing yogurt and feta, he hopes to add a blue cheese, an Alpine style tome, and about one dozen goats next year. Although Satur Farms current- ly distributes the cheese to New York City restaurants, the dairy doesn’t make enough to meet any national demand inspired by the award. But its small size was apparently also an advantage, since it allows Catapano Dairy to use only milk from its own animals, which “makes the difference between a good cheese and one that’s special,” according to Mr. Catapano.

Would Cypress Grove agree? “I’m sure they’re not too happy about this.” (Those who are happy about it can find Catapano Dairy cheeses at Cavaniola’s Gourmet in Sag Harbor, the Village Cheese Shop in Southampton and Mattituck, at Round Swamp Farm in East Hampton and at Catapano Dairy on Sound Avenue in Mattituck.)