Sheep cheese brings home national prize

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | A woman spreads Catapano Dairy Farm’s award-winning sheep cheese on a cracker at the farm’s tasting room on Route 48 in Peconic.

You might not notice Catapano Dairy Farm as you’re zipping along the North Road in Peconic. Stop once and try some of their cheeses, though, and you might not ever want to pass it by again.

The small farm’s latest product, a sheep cheese, has caught the attention of the American Cheese Society, which gave the dairy product a second-place award in its annual competition in Madison, Wis., this past weekend. It’s the fourth award Catapano Dairy Farm has won from the organization and the first since 2008.

“It’s never old hat,” said owner Karen Catapano. “You work so hard for it.”

The sheep cheese is a joint venture with Catapano Farms on Main Road in Southold, owned by Ms. Catapano’s in-laws. Between the two farms, they have more than 25 sheep now keeping the product in supply.

The sheep cheese placed second in a category for fresh unripened sheep and mixed dairy cheeses. The first-place winner in the category was a water buffalo and ricotta cheese made on a farm in Ontario, Canada.

Catapano Dairy Farm has previously placed in the competition with its ricotta, blue and soft goat cheeses.

The competition is judged during the American Cheese Society’s weeklong conference in Madison.

The sheep cheese, which was just introduced this year, can be purchased at both farms and the Greenport Farmers’ Market. The limited product is also being purchased by local restaurants, including The North Fork Table & Inn.

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