p h o t o g r a p h y b y m a r t i n p o o l e / g e t t y i m a g e s . c o m
Mood of food
aking cheese—and selling it for that matter—is not for the faint of heart. While the Jersey cows at Mecox Bay Dairy lazily graze in the lushgreen fields near Swan Creek, cheesemaker Art Ludlow and his fam-ily cycle through an endless 365-day-per-year job of milking, ripening, andaging their six signature varieties for sale at farmers’ markets and select retailoutlets throughout the Northeast. Shops such as Lucy’s Whey and Cavaniola’sGourmet Cheese Shop are busy as well as they cater to the increasingly knowl-edgeable palettes of customers who have come to expect a carefully curatedselection of American and international products.“Over the past 15 years American cheeses have really become on par withtheir European counterparts, and we have seen a flourishing of artisanal andfarmstead cheeses hit the market,” says Christine Hyatt, Board President of the American Cheese Society. Last year’s ACS Conference & Competitiondrew more than 1,600 entries from the US, Canada, and Mexico; New Yorkcheesemakers alone won 20 awards. Regardless of who takes top honors,Hyatt is quick to point out: “People have strong opinions about the types of cheeses they prefer. When you eat a really fine cheese, you will always dis-cover an interesting texture and aroma. It’s an attention grabber.”Since launching Mecox Bay Dairy 10 years ago, Ludlow has caught theattention of aficionados by producing a variety of cheeses to satisfy his cus-tomer base, but he says his Sigit, a nutty, Alpine-style cheese (think Gruyereor Swiss) is the front-runner. He also notes a variance in his cheeses depend-ing on the time of year: “What we sell in June is different than the cheese we’llsell in August. There is carotene in grass, giving the milk a yellowish color.”Small format cheeses like Ludlow’s are the passion behind Lucy Kazickas of
east end gourmands anxiously await the rich variety of fresh, locally made cheesescoming to market this summer.
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With Mecox Bay Dairy, Lucy’sWhey, and Cavaniola’s GourmetCheese Shop, there is no shortageof great cheese on the East End.
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