The Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck has a reputation for stocking a wide variety of delectable cheeses, but the wedge featured front and center on the countertop this afternoon is like nothing you’ve ever seen on the North Fork — or in America, for that matter.
It’s Pecorino alla Cannabis, a hemp-covered sheep milk cheese imported from Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy.
Cannabis, sometimes known as marijuana, is a genus of flowering plant with several species, and Village Cheese Shop owner Michael Affatato assures us that the green leafy substance coating the wheels of his pecorino is not the same as the recreational drug.
“This is hemp,” he explains. “Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis sativa, but hemp has a much lower concentration of psychoactive elements than marijuana. It does taste like marijuana, but you won’t get high if you eat it.”
Affatato’s newest offering is produced by a third-generation sheep farmer and artisan who coats the cheese with linseed oil and buries it for four months in cannabis.
“It’s a novelty,” admits Affatato, “But once you get past that you’ll find that the quality of the cheese is amazing. It’s salty and briny – it’s really delicious.”
And if you happen to notice the product code written on the back of the Pecorino alla Cannabis description card, you’ll see that it’s 420, cannabis culture code for April 20, “Weed Day.”