Cheese has come a long way from orange slices covered in plastic. A bite of fig and honey chèvre doesn’t even resemble the cheese of childhood grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s slightly peppery, a bit salty with hints of sweet honey and a touch of fig.
It’s delicious. But don’t take my word for it. If the success of the American Cheese Shop in West Sayville is anything to go by there are a lot of people delighted by how far cheese has come.
Erin Nicosia first started selling artisanal cheeses at the farmers market and quickly realized there was a need for a brick and mortar store focused on cheese.
“I sold out everyday, and I had the idea the people in the area could appreciate cheese,” Nicosia said. We’re sitting on stools in the third generation of her cheese shop on Railroad Avenue in West Sayville.
From the farmers market Nicosia opened a retail cheese shop in West Sayville. She was there for three years before expanding to the present location.
“That location was a fraction of the size, but it did great and let me expand to wine, beer, tapas,” Nicosia said.
The current store on Railroad Avenue is more of a gourmet market with a focus on cheese. Wooden boards hang over the cheese counter letting people know the current sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, cow’s milk and mixed milk offerings.
“I’m so excited to put food together and with showing people how to use cheese,” Nicossa said. “We love to cook and showcase how to use our products.”
Nicossa grew up cooking but never imagined opening a cheese shop. She fell in love with a cheese shop in California when she was going to school for environmental studies.
“None of that career happened and I thought why not try a cheese shop here,”
Her love of cheese and love of introducing people to it continues to thrive. The American Cheese Shop is planning a lot more events including regular pairing classes to help people learn about cheeses and bring in different chefs.
“It’s all about getting people excited about cheese,” Nicossa said.