June 08, 2012


Tony Cenicola/ New York Times

One of our readers sent in a great article featured in the New York Times about a couple that makes some amazing pesto…. it’s called BuddhaPESTO…isn’t that brilliant :). Below is the write-up…click here if you want to check out the photo journal version of this article….the photos are beautiful, they’ve definitely inspired me to make some pesto this weekend!

Here’s the basic pesto recipe I posted in the past…play around with it…and make your own green gold by adding different herbs, complimentary cheeses, various nuts and different oils. 

p.s. Just a reminder, pesto is great of course with pasta, but a spoonful will transform a bowl of quinoa, make a salad dressing stupendous and is always a hit as a spread on grilled panini sandwiches or pizza…

What’s your favorite way of making pesto? Enjoy!

By Sound and Touch, Producing Pesto Bliss

By  | Published: June 4, 2012 | New York Times |  CORNWALLVILLE, N.Y.

Maria Gandara stood next to a food processor, waiting for the hum. Inside a four-quart tub churned a bright green, ambrosial slurry of basil, garlic, pine nuts, Italian parsley, pecorino Romano cheese and olive oil. It looked like ordinary pesto, but it might as well have been some rare liquid drug. 
Ms. Gandara and her husband, Gregor Trieste, have spent the last decade running a company called Buddhapesto out of their 19th-century farmhouse, not far from Woodstock. For many customers, a mere spoonful of their one and only product inspires devotion so fierce, it borders on fanatical.
As any highly paid trendspotter (or savvy 12-year-old) could tell you, we’re living through a culinary boomtime for all things small-batch and artisanal: chocolate, jam, mayonnaise, gin. Some are tributes to the power of cool packaging. Others, though, are unexpectedly extraordinary.
Acolytes of Buddhapesto, which is sold year-round at stores and farmers’ markets around the Hudson Valley, will tell you stories about guzzling eight-ounce containers on the spot, of hoarding it, of hiding it from their spouses, of stirring it into soups and smearing it all over omelets and scallops and apple slices. These are the people who stew in bruised silence for an entire morning if they learn that Mr. Trieste has been unable to make the two-and-a-half-hour trip to an open-air market in Westchester County.
“There is a following,” said Nina Hogan, a former chef who first encountered Buddhapesto a few years ago. “My daughter eats it with a spoon out of the container, and I get mad at her because I want it to last. It stays green. It’s miraculous. I wonder how they do it.”
Only Ms. Gandara knows. Over the course of 10 years or so, she has been the sole conjurer of what is now approximately 3,000 containers of Buddhapesto per month. “Gregor does not know how to make it,” she said.
Such information would be tough to share, anyway, because Ms. Gandara, a 47-year-old mother of two, tends to measure her ingredients, whether it’s a shotgun blast of tricolored pepper or a fluffy clump of parsley, by sight and by the way it feels in her hands.
She also uses a part of the body that’s too rarely cited in cookbooks: her ears. She knew the pesto was ready, she said, when the shifting din of the food processor told her so: “It no longer sounds like it’s struggling. The machine is at peace. It calms down. I am listening for an om.”
Mr. Trieste, 43, said, “It’s called a pest-om.”
For seekers of basil-based enlightenment, the spiritual terminology is more than a wisecrack. There is a sort of Zen to making the green stuff sublime, even in (or especially in) the most modest of surroundings.
“This is it,” Ms. Gandara said of her narrow kitchen. “People think I’m producing it in the Maria Wonka Pesto Factory.”
People also ask if she’s Italian, but Ms. Gandara is of Colombian and Mexican-Indian extraction; she first tasted pesto when she was a teenager in California.
“I thought, ‘That is the elixir of the gods,’ ” she recalled. “ ‘I have to learn how to make that.’ ” Epiphany led to obsession — and to years of perfecting the mix in meticulous trial-and-error sessions. Eventually a friend urged her to package the pesto and find a market for it.
Customers ask Ms. Gandara for her recipe all the time, and she is open about her ingredients and their origins: organic basil from Slack Hollow Farm in Washington County, N.Y., when it’s in season, the pecorino Romano from Italy. But she refuses to reveal the exact proportions.
“That’s what I have been working so hard on all these years,” she said.
Ric Orlando, a friend of the couple’s and a noted Hudson Valley chef, suggested that Ms. Gandara had made a range of choices that allowed “the ingredients that we expect pesto to taste like to shine on their own without having to battle.” For instance, she uses raw pine nuts instead of roasted and, to the surprise of some customers, pure olive oil instead of extra virgin, which can overwhelm other flavors.
That humble food processor is crucial to the whole operation, too. “The fact that she makes it handmade and on smaller machines makes a huge difference,” Mr. Orlando said. Industrial-size gear can whip up industrial-level heat, he said, which can slightly cook the ingredients and spoil the distinctive tang of freshness.
As with so many homegrown culinary enterprises, it seems that smallness plays a huge role in why Buddhapesto tastes the way it does.
Generating only 16 or 17 containers per spin makes it difficult for the couple to keep up with a summer demand that can be unrelenting. But they have resisted the temptation to upgrade to a mammoth machine.
“Yes, it would be easier on her, but I don’t think the pesto would taste the same,” Mr. Trieste said. “You would lose that attention to detail.
”That level of focus explains why, on a recent night, Ms. Gandara could be found listening for cosmic signals from her food processor through the night and all the way past dawn, eventually conking out at 7:30 a.m. after handing over a fresh stockpile of Buddhapesto to her partner, who was gearing up to drive it around the region.
All of which evokes the question: could the delicate process of making Buddhapesto even survive expansion?
Ms. Gandara and Mr. Trieste have been dreaming of converting a few of their five acres to a farm on which they could grow their own basil, garlic and parsley, and they have been in talks with representatives from Whole Foods and Smorgasburg, the vast weekend gastro-market in Brooklyn.At the moment, their pesto can’t be found in New York City unless someone orders it through their Web site, but it’s hard to imagine how the couple could manage the workload if the green gold happened to take off in, say, Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Ms. Gandara sounded ambivalent about excessive growth.
“I want to walk to work,” she said. “Barefoot.”Her husband seemed apt to agree. “When you’re doing something so perfect, why mess with it?” he said.
Then again, when his wife was momentarily out of earshot, he couldn’t resist grinning and dropping a hint at brand expansion.
“She makes a really good chimichurri,” he said.

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