Special Sections: November 01, 2016 Food & Drink » Locally Grown
Share Mighty Mighty Micro makers A New Wave of Artisanal Food By Anne Pyburn Craig
Call it what you will: artisanal, handmade, gourmet. Across the Hudson Valley, a new wave of small-batch food producers is melding homegrown with handcrafted, realizing their entrepreneurial dreams with products that inspire and enhance their customers' home cooking. These small-batch products and the stories of their makers are as individual as fingerprints. Small batch doesn't mean small time, however. These makers—with the notable of exception of longstanding and award-winning Fruition Chocolate—are poised for growth. Keep your eyes peeled and your mouth open.
- Les Stone
- Louisa Pabon of Verde & Co.
"A great many Caribbean recipes start with making a sofrito," says Louisa Pabon. "It's mentioned in a 14th-century cookbook. But there's only one major brand out there, and a lot of people think that's what sofrito is." Sofrito, Spanish for "lightly fried," is a mix of vegetables, herbs, and spices that adds a lively accent to meats, soups, stews, scampis, sautes, dips, and more. Pabon, who grew up on the Lower East Side and moved to the Catskills 27 years ago to raise her family, knew she could do better by using fresh ingredients and family traditions.
In 2008, she and a friend, Paula Kaufman, started Verde & Co. in the kitchen of an old Sullivan County hotel; in 2012, they established a commercial kitchen of their own in Mountaindale. "Mom made her sofrito with a mortar and pestle," she says. "We tinkered with the spices; we measure, but it would be hard to duplicate."
And people do, keeping Pabon cooking 12 hours a day most days. "We did a demo at Adams Fairacre Farms in Newburgh and sold out," she says. "So we went back and it just kept going like that. We have a distributor now who takes Sofrito Verde to supermarkets. If this keeps up, I'm going to have to hire help—but we'll never compromise our methods or ingredients." Sofrito Verde can be found in Hannaford, Price Chopper, and ShopRite locations across the region. SofritoVerde.com