Talbott & Arding Embraces A Piece Of Hudson’s Past And Present
Photos by Annie Schlechter
By Greg Cerio
Customers of the new Hudson, NY food shop Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions might be so busy admiring the shop’s crisp interior details (white tile, dove-gray wainscoting) that they only glance at the pitted marble counter used to display house-made scones, pastries, sausage rolls, and meat pies. But that slice of stone has symbolic value for owners Mona Talbott, a chef and cookbook author, and Kate Arding, a British-born cheesemonger.
When they purchased the Warren Street space last year, the two were pleased to learn that the building has a culinary legacy, of sorts. Built in 1868, it housed fish and oyster vendors for most of its first six decades. Starting in 1961 and for some 37 years thereafter, the building was home to The Pizza Pit, a restaurant so fondly remembered by locals that there is a Facebook page dedicated to its memory. The marble countertop was once used for cleaning and fileting fish, and knowing that their store represents the changing face of Hudson, Talbott and Arding were happy to embrace a small piece of the city’s past.
Arding (left) and Talbott.
“It’s a nice bit of continuity,” says Arding. “One of the reasons we came to Hudson is that it still has working roots — there’s a real feel to it. We may be at the high end of the food world, but we’re down to earth.”
The local earth — and a culinary heritage of a different order — brought Talbott and Arding to the town.
“The farms and dairies of this region are amazing, and here, we’re right in the heart of it all,” Talbott says. “It’s important for us to be near the makers of the things we cook and sell, so we’re not just importing luxury goods.” Both she and Arding were trained in the farm-to-table model. Talbott worked under the legendary Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, and later moved to Italy to run the Waters-inspired Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome from 2006 to 2011, preparing food from local markets and revitalizing the menu at an institution whose fare was a bare notch above SpaghettiOs and Spam. Arding started on her path to cheese expertise at Neal’s Yard Dairy, a London franchise that specializes in cheeses from small-scale producers.
In that vein, Arding personally knows all the cheesemakers (and seemingly their animals as well) whose fare she sells in Hudson. Talbott, too, can name the farmers who make each ingredient in the meals she cooks, from the porchetta in a sandwich to the beets in a salad. “We want to be advocates for locals,” Arding says. “The best makers aren’t self-promoters. They’re happiest doing what they do, which is why the foods they produce are so delicious.”
Still, it takes talent to make the most of those flavors. If Arding is an astute, cerebral guide through the arcana of the cheese universe, for her part Talbott says she bases her menus on “emotional decisions — what feels right to me for the day.” Her choices result in an array of salads, sandwiches, and prepared entrees to take home for dinner, as well as a daily soup and a daily “fortifying bullion.” The latter seems, in this winter in particular, certain to gain the shop a faithful following.
“We hope people in town come to have as much affection for us as they had for The Pizza Pit,” Arding says.
Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions
323 Warren Street, Hudson, NY
Closed on Mondays.