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Soul Food


For these artisan food makers, a taste of the Southwest starts with a passion for quality ingredients

By Jen Murphy

cheeseJames Ranch

Durango, Colorado

When the James children told their dad they wanted to return to the family’s 400-acre cattle ranch just north of Durango, David James told them to bring something to the table. “Dad started with beef and now we’ve become a food hub,” says Dan James. Jenn and her husband, Joe Wheeling, run the organic garden; Julie and her husband, John Ott, tend approximately 500 hens; Dan and his wife, Becca, raise Jersey cows and turn the milk into cheese. The ranch’s bounty gets sold at the on-site market and daughter Cynthia and her husband, Robert Stewart, use it in burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches sold from their ranch food cart.

vanilla_revBlue Cattle Truck Trading Co.

Springville, Utah

When Molly Anderson couldn’t find a good vanilla in American markets she drove over the border to its birthplace, Veracruz, in search of the best beans. “Mexican vanilla beans are much more nuanced than vanilla grown anywhere else in the world,” says her daughter and partner, Amy Rasmussen. Anderson works with a family
in Veracruz who has grown vanilla for more than 100 years. The farmers cure and dry hand-picked beans for 90 days just like the Aztecs. The beans are then cold-pressed, following a secret family recipe that yields a smooth, rich vanilla extract. Even Martha Stewart is a fan.


New Mexico Piñon Coffee Co.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Coffee beans are often associated with exotic lands such as Ethiopia or Guatemala. But the aromas from a pot of New Mexico Piñon Coffee evoke the Land of Enchantment. Nuts from the piñon pine, New Mexico’s state tree, are roasted and ground together with coffee beans to create a sweet, hazelnut-like brew. The namesake blend was originally sold from the back of a red pickup truck. Twenty years later, New Mexico Piñon Coffee Co. is the state’s largest roaster, offering more than 50 flavors. The best-seller, biscochito, tastes like the anise and cinnamon state cookie it’s named after.


Wingfield Bread Co.

Camp Verde, Arizona

After Rachelle Pozza dreamed of people in pioneer bonnets she moved to Camp Verde, Arizona. “At the time I didn’t understand what it meant,” she says. “Then I learned that my family had been pioneers here.” A mother of seven, Pozza first started baking simply as a way to feed her family nutritious foods. Three years ago she opened a bakery in Wingfield Plaza, where her great-grandfather once had a mercantile shop. Pozza mills her own flour and bakes loaves such as pecan sourdough and whole-wheat pumpernickel. “A lot of European clients say they haven’t tasted bread like this since they’ve been home,” Pozza says. 928-301-9300

Illustrations by Claire McCracken

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