A Well-Cultured Community
Kate Arding tells why the Hudson Valley cheese scene is in full bloom
Expert cheesemonger, Kate Arding, and celebrated chef Mona Talbott embrace the bounty of the Hudson Valley at their Hudson shop.
Set apart by their smart selections, keen attention to quality, and the clean aesthetic of their Warren Street outpost, Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions in Hudson has become a standout in the city’s burgeoning culinary scene and somewhat of a beacon of epicurean delights hailing from the Valley region.
The shop is a collaboration between Mona Talbott and Kate Arding, both of whom boast impressive resumes. Talbott is an esteemed chef and cookbook author who’s held court in the kitchen at Chez Panisse and helped establish Rome’s Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome. Arding has more than two decades of international experience in the world of farmhouse cheeses that includes cheesemongering and maturation, business, publishing, and teaching.
What drew these culinary giants to our region in the first place, and what keeps them here year-round, the Valley’s “tremendous sense of energy and growth,” says Arding. “We were especially drawn to Columbia County, and Hudson in particular, as it was beginning a tremendous state of transition that we now find ourselves in.” The two had considered settling down in New York City, but the proximity to the producers—cheese and otherwise—of the Hudson Valley caused our area to ultimately win out. “We really wanted to be among the producers,” Arding says. “We both find it especially rewarding and gratifying to have that connection with the vendors, to have them showing up at the back door with eggs or a flat of blueberries; that really counts.”
Everything in the shop is chosen based on taste and the way the product is handled from start to finish. As Arding puts it, “this gives us the tools to sell the products with confidence, and talk to the producers if something isn’t going right.” They offer a variety of cheeses from around the world, carefully curating each import from artisans they trust and have personal connections with, and sourcing domestic selections exclusively from the Northeast. Valley vendors rank high on the list, of course, but there weren’t quite enough of them to sustain the cheese counter alone.
Right now, state selections range from Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie, all the way north to Sugarhouse Creamery in the Adirondacks, and westward to Meadowood in Madison County. “The Hudson Valley is very much evolving. We have a lot of great producers here, but we haven’t even begun to see the full potential. There is a great deal of promise...It has its own regional identity, and I think that’s something to be celebrated.”