Talbott and Arding, A Cheese and Provisions Shop in Hudson
323 Warren St | Hudson, NY
When Mona Talbott and Kate Arding partnered to open Talbott and Arding last December, they had a similar vision – to create a gourmet market where an attention to quality products, the producers behind them, and customers were paramount. “It’s not really about us,” says Kate, the shop’s owner and operations manager. “We’re the curators of it, but it’s not about our egos, it’s about representing the people that we buy from.”
Set in the burgeoning city of Hudson, the shop has a minimal, understated aesthetic. Delectable cakes are artfully presented behind open panes of glass; white tiled walls become a backdrop to wooden baskets overflowing with fresh produce; cheeses of all shapes and sizes rest on butcher blocks above a bright white refrigerated case. These deliberate details not only add to the shop’s farmhouse feel, but invite a dialogue with customers who come in to taste, smell and learn. “It’s worth spending a lot of time with people,” says Kate. “If they have the interest to come into the shop, the least we can do is reward them.”
The pair first met in the late 90’s over dinner at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. At the time, Mona was working as a cook at the famed restaurant and Kate was there with Peggy Smith and Sue Conley, the founders of Cowgirl Creamery – the artisan creamery where Kate would eventually become Head Cheesemonger and Cheese Buyer. In 2012, after many years apart, Kate and Mona re-connected on the East Coast and decided to start a business together.
A focus on quality ingredients is evident as soon as you walk in the door. Freshly prepared salads, sandwiches and baked goods change daily depending on seasonal variation and what’s available locally. “The producers are really what it’s all about,” says Kate. “To make connections with them, to work with them very closely and in a very symbiotic way. To showcase their products to the best effect.”
“We get fresh flowers in on Thursdays from Tiny Hearts Farm in Copake and we sell them in bunches on the weekends,” says Kate. “That’s the way we like to operate. We certainly don’t have things sitting around for long.”
These ginger cakes drizzled with lemon icing and crystallized ginger are just one of many delicious baked goods sold in the shop. “Mona does really all the cooking. It’s a lot of work, but we care very deeply about what we do,” Kate shares. “I think we both feel that a lot of the businesses that we’ve come to admire the most, have one thing in common – the owners are on site and involved all the time. It makes a tremendous difference.”
“Having the kitchen here is great because there is very, very little waste,” says Kate. “We get to use everything.” In addition to catering, they have a wholesale division with house branded products made by canning and preserving excess meat, fruit and vegetables.
A key member of Talbott and Arding’s team is Sarah Spira, the shop’s retail manager, who came by way of Formaggio Kitchen in Boston. She, like Kate and Mona, has an approach to the business that puts quality producers at the forefront. “We all have an understanding of what it takes to bring these things into the marketplace,” says Kate. “That really helps because we need them as much as they need us.”
The shop is small, which suggests a particular attention to the products themselves, especially when it comes to cheese. They’re selective, or “picky” as Kate says, featuring anywhere between 40 to 60 cheeses from the northeast region. And, for her, it’s not only about choosing the best cheeses, but about what happens once they get to the shop. “The same wheel of cheese can change from day to day as it matures, so I think it’s really important to take care of them.” Kate’s favorite at the moment is Ledyard of Meadowood Farm, a little sheep’s milk cheese wrapped in grape leaves and washed in beer that is “just exceptional. Stops you in your tracks good.”
With an incredible emphasis on building meaningful relationships with their customers, Kate relishes being able to share her extensive knowledge and cheesemongering expertise with those who pay a visit. “We’ve all been amazed at how warmly we’ve been received. We have such incredible support from the local community,” she says. “It’s one thing in the height of summer when everything is busy and hectic and every other weekend is a party, but it was very apparent in the winter months. The regulars who came into the shop were just fantastic, braving through horrendous weather conditions to support us.”