This year I really experienced the power of the relationships we have built over the past 4-5 years with our vendors. Maybe its the economy. Maybe its the level of trust. Maybe its them handing their "baby" over to me and allowing me to care for it. Whatever the reason, this was a lot of fun this year to find out old friends and catch up on them and their businesses.
First, let me introduce you to our favorite olive oil - Esther and the Taste of Crete. We met Esther at our first show, and it was just after both of us had started our businesses within a month of each other. She has always taken care of us and has grown to know our customers well enough that she can recommend (or turn us away from) her various products. She has great cookies, spreads and honeys but the oil is what keeps us loyal.
I remember when Crete had those terrible fires a couple of years ago, and we called to make sure her family and friends were okay. When the economy notably slowed, she was the first vendor to give us a call and make sure we were doing okay. A true class act who knows her business.
Then there's Ron & Ilyse at Ritrovo. I didn't see them on the vendor list for the show and was a bit worried. But we accidentally ran into her on the floor and talked as if we had been away for only hours. She's another one who gets what we're trying to do at the Kumquat, and knows our customers. I don't think there is a more selective vendor anywhere! She's also always full of goodies for us to try. At the show it was a great walnut grape spread which we ordered (we know our customer Peter R will love it!) and this amazing salt blend.
Is this not gorgeous!? This is also where we get our truffle salt which is on its way to the store as I type.
And while not at the show, Ming of Vital Tea Leaf is the ultimate showman. He and his shop were the inspiration for our tasting room and now the source of our loose teas. This guy's knowledge of teas is beyond comparison. Name any tea you like and he'll list a dozen more that you will also like - and he'll be right.
He likes sending us new fun stuff, and at his shop in Chinatown he gave us three samples to play with. The first was $800/lb (we'll enjoy but probably pass on that one), and this cool puerh. We already have two of his puerhs but this one is aged in a tangerine. Nice presentation. A bit more subtle than the others that we have. And the price is right. Guess what? As soon as we re-open our tasting room, we'll have them.
I might add a bit more about the show later, but I have other fish to fry, like the crockpot contest! Also coming up is a green tea cookie recipe that was really good so hang tight.
Farina Alto – Albuquerque, New Mexico
4 days ago