There is a long list of reasons that Cavaniola’s is the favored cheese source on the East End. Start with their fervent devotion to sampling, no matter how long the line of customers, a tradition that stretches back to the owner’s cheese shop roots in Newark, and a ritual also observed at DiPalo’s, Murray’s, Saxelby’s and other preferred cheesemongers. Add to that a wine shop next door in the famed ship-shaped Umbrella House, and a prepared foods shop open in season. (Cavaniola’s cheese shop does offer paninis, soups, delectable desserts and other ready to eat fare yearround.)
The Sag Harbor-based shop, which we first profiled in 2008, stocks a long list of curated cheese-appropriate comestibles, from Orwasher’s bread to Irving Farms coffee, from Hudson Valley duck bacon to Crown maple syrup and Brooklyn Brine pickles. And finally there is the cheese: a rotating selection of well over 100, miraculously packed into its one wall of refrigerated space. There are goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, cow’s milk, washed rind, soft, aged, you name it. So we sent our photo editor, Lindsay Morris, to capture 10 of their new cheeses that may soon be gracing your own cheese board. With tasting notes by Tracey Cavaniola.
1. Sierra de Aracena
A washed-rind goat’s milk cheese from Andalusia in southern Spain. Many cheeses come with labels consumers rarely see. Sierra de Aracena has a great hand-drawn label of a dark-haired, busty Spanish woman (Doña Manuela) pouring freshly yielded goat’s milk from large metal jugs into round molds. It is a very memorable image and is a great visual while eating the cheese.
2. Brin d’Amour
Sheep’s milk from Corsica. Brin d’Amour translates to “a birth of love.” It is made specially from the milk of Lacaune ewes. At first sight this cheese does not look like cheese at all but a mound of rosemary, fennel seeds, juniper berries and the occasional bird’s eye chili. A treat all year round but particularly near the holidays, this cheese stands out on a board when adorned with pink peppercorns and drizzled with olive oil.
Cow’s milk from Emilia-Romagna. Considered by many the world’s greatest cheese (in Italian, “il fromaggio migliore del mondo”), the cheese’s integrity is ensured by carefully monitored production, and only the deserving will be graced with a seal and stamped with a birth date in the plant.
From Switzerland, is a washed-rind cow’s milk cheese. Forsterkase means lumberjack cheese. The washed rind is exclusive to the top and underside of this cheese. The sides are uniquely wrapped in a fir bark, which keeps it from collapsing and provokes an overall woody, smoky, meaty flavor only the forsterkase can claim. It is reminiscent of a Vacherin Mont d’Or, but available year-round.
5. Cremificato (Gorgonzola)
A cow’s milk blue cheese from Lombardy. The general consensus of people who try this cheese? It’s addictive. This is a non-aggressive blue from Lombardy. In production, the curd is left large, heavy and wet and only pierced with a blue culture, creating incredible vein-like tubes running down throughout the entire wheel.
A goat’s milk cheese from Vermont Creamery. This cheese is named for its likeness to a snow-covered dome. The appearance of the rind develops after it is introduced to Geotrichum candidum, a fungus that plays an important role in not only the ripening but the development of flavor and aroma. Coupole can easily stand up to the age-old goat cheeses produced in the Loire Valley of France.
From Spain, is made from 80 percent cow’s milk and 20 percent goat’s milk. Queso de Valdeón is a Spanish blue cheese from León. The cheese is made in Posada de Valdeón, in the northeast of the province of León, and is wrapped in sycamore maple or chestnut leaves before being sent to market. It is meaner than it looks and when young has a delightfully complex flavor.
8. Bonne Bouche
A goat’s milk cheese from Vermont. The name of the cheese means “good mouthful” in French. It’s made with special care and consideration because the curd is hand-ladled then lightly sprinkled with tree ash. This cheese is aged just long enough to develop a rind and is beautiful on any cheese board.
9. Salva Cremasco
Cow’s milk from Lombardy. Salva Cremasco comes from the hillsides of Lombardy. Salva means “saved,” as it was traditionally made from excess milk and saved from spoiling. The inside pâte might remind you of ricotta salata, but the flavor is far more developed and tart. The exterior is also unique, because it is square and has a stone-like, thick, deeply textured rustic rind.
10. Mont Vully
Cow’s milk from Switzerland. Mont Vully was born after the local people of Cressier founded a belief that Emmentaler should only be made in the Emmental region, not in Cressier. As time went by, the dairy that was producing Emmentaler developed and started mainly producing Mont Vully. They were enthusiastic about the new kind of cheese; in only four years they had enough demand and production to stop making Emmentaler altogether.