It’s that time of year again!
Cid’s Food Market’s Annual Anniversary Bash is happening this weekend. As always, this is Cid’s big give back to the community, and an opportunity to meet the vendors you buy from. A chance to taste new and familiar products sold at Cid’s and a great excuse to simply see lots of friends and neighbors at once.
It’s always a party, with delicious food and beverages to sample, plenty of giveaways and a celebratory vibe. And truth be told, what’s not to celebrate?
Serving our community for over three decades, Cid’s is our one stop shop for fresh natural and organic produce, dairy, meats and more. In fact everything you need to stock fridge,freezer and pantry can all be found under this roof, along with all your health and beauty needs and so much more. Cid’s truly is a Taos gem.
Cid and Betty Backer started Cid’s as a small grocery store in the building that the North Side Guadalajara Grill now occupies. From those early and humble origins, Cid’s has grown to become the fabulous emporium we know today. But some of the same people you met back then, can still be found working there, stocking shelves, organizing produce, along with Cid (and occasionally) Betty, as well as a new generation of involved entrepreneurs, who continue the family tradition with additions,
The Cellar at Cid’s is also getting in on the action this year with wine tastings featuring wines that are deeply discounted for this event, along with special offers through the weekend. Buy one bottle of wine and get a second of equal (or lesser), value at 15% off. (Excludes wines already on sale.)
Remember to bring your id!
Joshua Cunningham is the Marketing Director at Cid’s, and this year, he’s putting the focus on four local/regional companies deserving of attention. Josh suggested I reach out to them, ask a few questions and go from there. So I did. Trouble was, each response was worthy of its own post, so hopefully that will happen soon enough.
In the meantime, I thought I’d start with what is in my opinion, a perfect pairing. Tea and Honey.
I asked Dana B from tea.o.graphy to tell me how she got started in the magical world of tea.
“I arrived at tea and eventually tea.o.graphy through coffee! I used to be a die-hard coffee drinker…and tea? never touched the stuff. Eventually, for health reasons I had to stop drinking coffee. It was such a sad day and when I reluctantly turned my cart to the tea aisle at the local grocery store in small town Georgia. I could not find any teas that really excited me or held a candle to my beloved coffee habit/ritual. So, I decided if tea was going to be the alternative I needed to create a tea that appealed to me. ” She explained.
“My very first blend was Cafe sans Cafe…”coffee without coffee…” A blend of chicory + assam + vanilla bean (with an herbal counterpart: chicory + dandelion + carob + vanilla bean)….coffee like notes with chocolate and tobacco undertones. (Which I am proud to say, Cid’s carries!)” She said. “I had finally arrived at a tea I could enjoy! It can even be run through an espresso machine and hold up to coffee like preparations. It was a life saver for me!”
“At that time, I was a teacher, which took me to China where I taught for one and a half years. It was in China, that I really fell into tea and began to understand tea I dove into the rabbit hole that is tea and have not resurfaced since!”
She continued. “About three years ago, I was making a career decision to move onto something else…marketing perhaps? Illustrating children’s books? And then I looked around my kitchen and realized my cupboards were stocked with loose leaf teas and ingredients…there was always a scale and mixing bowl on the counter top – my kitchen had turned into a lab of sorts – I was always blending, tasting…creating new teas for myself/family/friends.”
“Tea had become such a passion and interest – starting a tea business was the clear path and the only one that truly inspired me. And if I was to start a tea business, I knew it had to be in Taos, which had stolen my heart many years ago. Before jumping into the deep-end, I wanted to do plenty of research into small business loans to help me get the whole project up and running. Before long, I was convinced I could make my dream a reality. So, I packed up my teas, herbs, and spices and moved to NM (by way of Georgia).”
“tea.o.graphy has officially been a business for about two and a half years. We are now in about fifty locations in Taos and growing throughout Northern New Mexico, into Colorado, and beyond with a few boutiques and restaurants now carrying our tea in LA, NY, DC, and even in the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta.”
“We handcraft a variety of organic teas with a strict focus on sustainable, environmental standards. Our ingredients are directly or fairly traded with small, local farms to small farms all over the world who are growing purely and ethically. All of our packaging is also mostly compostable (except for the tie tin on the Kraft bags and the red wax seal which we like to peel off and save for our kiddos who use it as currency in their play!). We carefully and lovingly hand blend in small batches to maintain the freshness and purity of the ingredients. “
With tea this fine, the honey we stir into it had better be superb, and luckily for us, Mike McMannon of Taos Honey, offers up an elixir beyond our wildest expectations. Really great, thick, creamy (delightfully infused with local flora) honey.
“Taos Honey is totally a team effort from hive to jar. General Manager Jeffrey Vasquez makes it all happen at our Honey House on the north end of Taos, where we focus on bottling only the highest quality raw honey, using minimal straining/filtration, and No artificially high temperatures.” Mike told me. “Jeffrey manages our raw whipped honey process, which requires a refrigerated room, six long days, and a whole lotta high torque/low Rpm mixing to achieve fine and smooth honey crystals, resulting in that creamy, spreadable texture.”
“My interest in bees intensified about seven years ago, and i was ready for something new after making my living for seventeen years by working in backcountry wilderness areas.” Mike explained. “Since forever, I’ve always felt most right when I’m working in partnership with animals, and I may also have an entrepreneurial streak, so those two things have come together and now i operate a honey bottling and beekeeping business. I like how the bees call our attention towards what is happening right now in nature, to observe weather patterns, timing of blossoms for forage, moisture and humidity, what the bears are doing. If I’m going to properly support the needs and wants of the honeybees, then i must watch and listen to nature, and i feel like that’s a good way for me to live. It’s not too different from being any other type of farmer or hunter in most regards.”
Mike has a long relationship with Cid’s and now counts the store and its staff among his main mentors in growing his own business.
“Well, firstly, I’m a loyal customer I’ve bought all of my food at Cid’s for over twenty years. I like knowing that anything i buy there is good, and that i don’t have to micro-analyze every label, because they already have done so.” He explained. “Cid’s (and their staff) is the main mentor and incubator for small food businesses in the Taos community and they’ve helped Taos Honey in lots of specific ways.”
“I consult regularly with the grocery manager, Mike Fernandez, and he’s a wizard on everything from pricing to labels. When i took over Taos Honey, i was a beginner in the food business, so Mike and his crew have trained me on how to hold up my side of the relationship as a wholesaler in partnership with a retailer. When i revised all of my product sizes and labels, they gave a lot of helpful input.”
“When we participate in sales,” he continued, ” Joshua Cunningham showers us in free marketing on the radio, email and in print. Cid’s also places our honey on the “end-cap” shelves (at the ends of the aisles) during sales which makes a huge impact, it practically falls into your cart.”
We can’t live on tea and honey alone, and there are often times in our busy lives, where there’s not even a moment to sit down for a relaxing cup of tea, let alone enjoy a meal. For times like those, Taos Mountain Energy Bars come in handy. These bars are artisanal, come in rediculous flavours and are unlike any others you have tasted before.
I asked Brooks Thostenson to tell us about them.
“I moved to Taos in 2010 with the idea of starting a business in a place where I could enjoy many outdoor activities. Kyle, my business partner, and I ended up coming up with the idea to make an energy bar that actually tasted good, so we set out to do just that, and now you can find our products in thousands of retailers across the country.” He told me. “Cid’s Market was our first retailer we sold in to, and we were thrilled with the idea of being able to sell our products in such an iconic store in Taos.”
Cid’s has helped Brooks and Kyle and their biz in more ways than one. He recalls that “when we first launched our product to the market, we had no idea how to price our bars. Cid was nice enough to take us upstairs to his office and teach us the difference between margin and markup, which we didn’t even know at that time! And the funny thing is that we still use what he taught us today!”
Gosar Sausage and Mountain Mama Flour have been with Cid’s practically since day one. The Annual Cid’s Anniversary Bash is especially poignant for them, considering their history with the store.
Kristian Gosar remembers that “we were told by locals that our product would fit beautifully into a great little store called CID’S. We met Cid and Betty back in 1990 along with his meat manager, Leo. We remember Lee (Cid and Betty’s son and Cid’s GM), as being a little twerp on his mom’s lap while she placed orders and helped manage the store.”
“My dad remembers that it was close to this time of year and Cid was interested in selling turkeys with a recipe for stuffing that had our Italian sausage in it. That was the first flavor Cid picked up.”
Since then, the selection at Cid’s has grown to include every flavor they make.
“Brett, the bearded one behind Cids meat counter, has been instrumental in bringing Taos the beautiful selection available you see today.” Kristian told me.
“What we do at Gosar Sausage is to try to make sausage like my Great Great Grandfather, Great Grandfather, my Grandpa Cowboy and my dad Greg, have done for so many years, honest and pure. It’s free from waste cuts of meat, fillers, nitrates and nitrites. Our sausage is handmade with the best ingredients available.”
Mike McMannon remembers that when in 1994 he was scouting for a place to live, that “my #2 criteria was “excellent local/organic grocery store” (after #1- “dark night sky” and #3 was “great library”.)”
“I went to the old Cid’s, had a good chat with Lenny in Produce and decided this was the place. I set up my Video Casa (next door) account the same day to make it official.”
“Later,” he recalls, ” I went as someone’s date to the Cid’s Holiday employee party (and after-party) a few times in the Mid 1990’s at El Taoseno, and i got to see how the crew there has always been like a wild and crazy family. Those parties were the best. Many of those same folks still work at Cid’s and have grown with the business. Back then Lee was still in high school, and working, i believe, as an assistant to the Lead Bagger, and now he’s the store manager. Its been fun to see all of the growth and change.”
“It’s always such a joy to deal with all the people associated with Cid’s.” Kristian Gosar said.”Through the years , we’ve always considered Cid, his family and all the people we’ve worked with through the years as part of our family and also partners in business. We at Gosar Natural Foods are so thankful for those relationships and for giving us the opportunity to sell our Gosar Sausage and Mountain Mama Flour in Taos. We congratulate Cid, Betty, Lee and all the wonderful crew on this anniversary.”
Most here in Taos share that sentiment. So this weekend we’ll raise a glass (or a cup of tea) to toast the wonderful crew at Cid’s. Cheers everyone! Thank you for being here.
For more information on Cid’s Anniversary Weekend, please visit their site (and all the vendors featured here), linked below, and I’ll be visiting with each of them again in the near future, to tell you much more about what they do. Meanwhile make sure to say hi and sample their products at Cid’s this weekend.
Photos of Cid’s (and Cid with the little girl) and wines at The Cellar, by Joshua Cunningham.
Photo of Cid’s HABA & Meat Departments Bill Curry.
Tea blends too pretty to drink, care of Dana from tea.o.graphy, TMEBars thanks to Brooks, Sausages c/o Gosar Ranch and honey jars, thanks to Taos Honey.