Taos does not have a Whole Foods, nor do we have a Starbucks.
Well, not an actual Starbucks. Starbucks coffee gets made in a couple of places, but that doesn’t count. What we do have is excellent coffee with the cafe culture that is a given in a town filled with creatives, and we also have Cid’s. Eat your heart out Whole Foods (or is that Amazon?)
When Cid and Betty Backer started their natural grocery store in what is now the Northside Guadalajara Grill, they could hardly have dreamed it would one day be the one stop shopping emporium in Taos, for the freshest produce, meats, dairy, hard to find gourmet items along with ethical health and beauty aids and so much more. Literally everything you need for your day-to-day needs, you can find at Cid’s.
This weekend, Cid’s Annual Anniversary Bash returns with special promotions, in store tastings and demonstrations, raffles, prizes, surprises and more! It’s a party as always and everyone is invited! It’s Cid’s way of saying thank you to you, the community that has made this fabulous store possible aqui en Taos.
I reached out to Cid and Betty Backer to ask them what this annual event means to them.
“It has been an honor to provide the freshest, highest quality, local, and organic food for our wonderful community for 32 years. Thank you Taos!” Was their heartfelt response to my email.
As has become tradition, several vendors will be on the floor this Friday and Saturday, with samples of their artisanal wares, including Bison Star Naturals, Pepe’s Salsa and Salazar Meats.
I’ve known Joe Verduzco (the founder of Pepe’s Salsa), for a long time. We worked together at Ramona’s, a long gone great nightclub and music venue, where for a minute, yours truly booked the bands.
I sat down with Joe one day last week upstairs at Cid’s, and asked him a few questions. When Joshua (Cunningham, Cid’s Marketing Director), suggested I feature these three vendors, he gave me two emails and one phone number.
“Joe’s not online,” he explained.
Joe took a little time out of Cid’s kitchen where he works three days a week, to answer a few questions.
“Hey Joe, how’s it going?” I greeted him at the coffee station where I’d gone first before meeting him upstairs – instead he’d appeared beside me as if by magic.
“Hi Lynne, I’m good, it’s nice to see you.”
We each filled a cup and headed upstairs together. We sat at the staff table and made a little small talk before I asked him a few questions about Pepe’s Salsa.
1) We have known each other for a long time. Can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
Yes we have! We go back to Ramona’s where I started working soon after I moved here from Oakland, in the Bay Area where I grew up. I was done with the city and had met a girl from here. The usual story. But I stayed.
2) You are back at Cid’s (you’ve worked here off and on over the years), and your salsa is a hit – on these shelves and others – what made you come back?
The kitchen! The kitchen – the food we put out – is such an asset to this store and the community – I love working at Cid’s. They treat their employees so well, it’s just a great work environment, so when they called me to help get the kitchen open, of course I said yes!
The salsa has taken off beyond my wildest dreams.
3) Can you tell us what prompted you to start Pepe’s?
Well I was working here at Cid’s in the produce department, and we get given the stuff that is going to be thrown out at the end of the day – I started taking tomatoes, onions, garlic and chiles – salsa ingredients – and cooking them up at home. Then I’d bring in small containers for co-workers and soon the word spread and suddenly I had this thriving business. So I took the course at the TCEDC Kitchen, and the rest is history.
I still use their kitchen.
4) Why did you name it Pepe’s?
There used to be a woman who worked here as a cashier, called Delores. One day I came in from a break, and she called out ‘Hi Pepe!” I looked around, then asked “who’s Pepe?” “Pepe is Little Joe.” She told me. I told her. “You’ve just named my salsa!” And that was that.
Joe also makes a killer red chile (that won an award at this year’s Chile Challenge at the Taos Country Club), and had brought a sample for me to try. Pepe’s Salsa (red). won the Judges’ Choice 1st Place Award.
A rich stew made with the “cheek meat of a cow”, melted in my mouth with its earthy, smoky flavour lingering. It was delicious. I asked him if he was going to bottle it as well?
“I’m looking into it,” he nodded, smiling.
The other two vendors Josh asked me to feature this year are both Tech savvy and have an online presence.
Establishing an online presence in this day and age is considerably easier than what it was a few years ago, because of the increasing popularity of one thing – Social Media. This online form can give so many individuals and brands the opportunity to spread the word about what they do through a click of a button, and if they have the help of a growth service like nitreo, this could reach people from all over the world. How good is that? And when you match an online presence with being Tech-savvy, then it is a win-win situation.
I shot these individuals with a few questions and here are their responses.
Jaquelene McHorse and her husband Angelo McHorse (from Taos Pueblo) met in 2007 in Durango, CO during their freshman year at Fort Lewis College. They are the owners of Bison Star Naturals. Perhaps you connected with them over the summer at the Farmer’s Market.
I emailed Jaquelene and she replied at once.
1) Hello Jaquelene, can you please tell my readers a little about your products?
Bison Star Naturals is a Native owned company out of Taos Pueblo, NM. Our soaps and lotions are made without animal products, dyes or artificial perfumes. We wild-craft or buy from local farmers the plant material used within our line and purchase our essential oils locally. Bison Star began as a bar soap company in 2013 and has since evolved to launch our lotion line in May of 2018. We are working hard to expand our line further and to become a widely recognized brand out of Taos and the New Mexico region.
2) How long have you been selling your line at Cid’s and how has that relationship helped you?
In 2013 when we first began making our bar soap, Cid’s was the very first retailer to carry our line. Over time we have evolved to expand our offerings with the release of our lotions in May of 2018. Again, Cid’s was the first retailer to carry our lotion line. Cid’s has been a major supporter or the expansion of Bison Star and is now one of the central places in Taos to pick up our products. We anticipate the release of our foaming Yucca Root Hand Soap this fall and intend to get it onto the shelves of Cid’s as soon as we announce its release.
The fact that Cid’s is such a major supporter of local businesses has been instrumental to our company. Having such a prominent presence in our Taos community allows for us to reach a huge portion of the Taos community and visitors alike. When we aren’t set up at the Taos Farmers Market on Saturdays our customers know they can always find our products at Cid’s.
3) Do you have one particular product you’d recommend for the cold months ahead?
The cold months ahead, while full of fun on the slopes and relaxing by the hot fire, have always meant dry skin. To address this common winter complaint we recommend our Sage Pine Lotion. Not only will the oils of coconut, jojoba, castor and argan leave your skin feeling moisturized and supple, the essential oils contained within have their own properties as well. Pine Needle Essential Oil is known to stimulate blood flow and help alleviate symptoms of inflammation associated with sore muscles and joints.
Sage Essential Oil is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties while also having antioxidant, antiseptic and cicatrisant (or anti-spot) characteristics. We offer our Sage Pine Lotion in a full 8oz bottle as well as a convenient 2 oz travel size.
Lucas Salazar of Salazar Meats was equally forthcoming after receiving my email.
1) Hi Lucas, please tell my readers a little about Salazar Meats?
We are a hyper-local, mostly vertically integrated, value-added meat company. We keep virtually all of the efforts from production to marketing and sales to a small region from Albuquerque to Denver. My family has raised cattle for many generations. That is how we started the business; we would raise our cows, have them locally butchered, and then market and distribute them out of a small freezer trailer. In 2010 I started training as a butcher and my father and I partnered in building a butcher shop and smokehouse on the ranch. We were doing a few value-added products under USDA inspection in 2011 from the ranch, but it wasn’t until 2014 when we expanded the shop and became certified for USDA slaughter that our model really gelled.
Now we process for a dozen or more local producers who well their products locally from Las Vegas, NM to Crested Butte, CO to Pagosa Springs, CO and more. Of course, you find our products at the Taos Farmers Market and at Cid’s. These are our two best local outlets for product under our label.
2) How long have you been selling your product at Cid’s?
We have been selling at Cid’s for about 2 years.
3) Anything special you are offering through the Holidays we should be aware of?
No special holiday offerings, though we believe Tasso Ham and Summer Sausage would be welcome additions to any Thanksgiving Day spread.
4) Do you have a favorite seasonal recipe you’d like to share using one of your meat products?
Yes! There is a Moroccan Beef Tagine which is absolutely incredible for this time of year. It may be my favorite dish in the genre of beef stews. All you need is a beef roast from Salazar Meats and a butternut squash. Everything else is pretty typical to have in a well stocked kitchen. So, here is the recipe for 1 lb. of beef. I would use a chuck roast, but other roasts will work. I use a chuck roast because they impart more fat than other beef roasts, which I enjoy.
*4 teaspoons paprika
*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*1.5 teaspoons salt
*4 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
*1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
*.5 teaspoon black pepper
*1 pound beef roast
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
*1 freshly diced tomato
*3 cups butternut squash
*1/4 cup cilantro
- Cube beef into 1.5 inch sections and roll in all the dry spices and olive oil.
- Brown this mixture over medium heat in a non-stick pan
- Place mixture in crock pot and add 1 quart water and chicken bouillon
- Cook on low setting for appx. 6 hours. Make sure beef is starting to become fall-apart tender. If it’s not there yet, leave it longer.
- Stir in tomatoes and squash and leave for one more hour or until squash is tender.
- Sprinkle cilantro on top and serve
It sounds incredible! Thank you Lucas!
Community is really what Cid’s is all about, plus consistent, caring, hands on customer service we can always count on. The Cid’s Anniversary is a great opportunity to connect with friends and neighbors, get some incredible deals – the sales are always stellar – and discover a few treats you might have missed along the way.
I’ll be there on Saturday afternoon, standing in for Toni Leigh of DB Taos, demo-ing some of the best skin care in the West!
For much more on Cid’s and everything they carry and provide, please visit their site linked below.
All images thanks to Cid’s, Bison Star Naturals, Salazar Meats and Pepe’s Salsa.