Shop Talk: The Cheese Cave (Red Bank, N.J.) | culture: the word on cheese
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Shop Talk: The Cheese Cave (Red Bank, N.J.)

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Every Friday, 60 to 80 people cram into Stephen Catania’s 1,000-square-foot shop, The Cheese Cave. The enthusiastic crowd comes for Five Dollar Friday: a sampling of five or six cheeses for just $5. As founder and owner of The Cheese Cave, Catania instituted the weekly BYOB event not only to grow his business, but also to help patrons feel more confident at the cheese counter.

Armed with an extensive food service and management background, numerous Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese courses, and a stint studying with world-renowned cheese expert Max McCalman, Catania debuted The Cheese Cave in February 2011. The local community was enthusiastic about the opening, but many of Catania’s customers were not “well-versed in cheese,” he says. So, Catania started organizing Cheese 101 classes, pairing lessons, and courses that explore cheeses of specific regions.

Beyond education, The Cheese Cave offers 80 to 120 different cheeses at any given time, plus cured meats, fresh breads, and a curated selection of gourmet items—Catania counts Harvest Song Fresh Walnut Preserves among his favorites. The shop also turns out made-to-order “sandwicheeses,” curds-centric sandwiches, of course, including croque-monsieurs and muffalettas.

culture: What’s a cheese you recommend frequently?
Stephen Catania: That’s always a tough question because it depends on my mood. We just started carrying Four Fat Fowl St. Stephen from New York—a relatively new triple cream.

culture: What’s your go-to party cheese?
SC: I have a couple of favorites. Jasper Hill Farm Harbison—or, we just got this outrageous pecorino from the Abruzzo region of Italy. It’s pasteurized and phenomenal. You can taste the farm.

culture: What is the strangest cheese pairing you’ve had?
SC: Brooklyn producer The Jam Stand does a red wine-onion jam that we pair with Gruyère and people say, “Oh my god, it tastes like onion soup.”

The Cheese Cave
14 Monmouth St.
Red Bank, N.J.

Mon.–Thu. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Fri. 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sun. 12 p.m.–4 p.m.

Michelina DelGizzi

Michelina DelGizzi, MS, MPH, is a writer and caseophile based in Boston and Lafayette, La.