Talon News - Good Local News

By Amber Michelle





The people of Farmington have spoken. The winner of the People's Choice Salsa Award from last year's "Chile in October" contest, will be selling fresh salsa at the Farmington Growers Market. The Market opens Saturday, June 10th. Andrew Montoya and his sous chef son, Andreis, will be preparing fresh salsa on-site at each Saturday Market and hopefully the Aztec Farmers Market as well. Andreis is the urging force behind this production, after his father and he have captured a year of contest awards. "How much can you produce, and where do you think it will take you?" I asked. "I'll let the people decide how much I produce," says US Army Major (Ret.) Montoya. "As long as the public continues to enjoy it, I'll keep making it." Well, Mr. Montoya, get ready to get busy.

I visited with the salsa duo at their Farmington home to see how the magic happens, although they do not produce it there. The production of Montoya's Southwestern Salsa is al fresco, and a la minute. Right in front of your eyes at whatever location they're selling; garage sale, Riverfest, Growers Market and hopefully some other fun venues as well, say Salsa Sunday at "gruvitacos"? Maybe in July. Or at my next dinner party...now I'm being selfish.

Andrew Montoya's quest for a taste of home started over 20 years ago, while stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas. "I didn't know of a recipe but knew the taste I was looking for. I bought all of the freshest garden vegetables at the local commissary and began searching for the right taste by mixing them together. I was later stationed in Germany for 8 years total but, could not find salsa like from back home in Farmington. I continued to mix the garden fresh vegetables together until I was able to come up with just the right flavor. Being that I am from New Mexico in the Southwest I decided to name it "Montoya Southwestern Salsa," writes Montoya. When he says "right flavor" he really means perfect flavor. Montoya shops his vegetables carefully, choosing only the ripest, most pleasing ingredients and then chops each of them, meticulously, before blending to create the perfect combination of texture and flavor. "I cut the vegetables in a particular way so one flavor never overpowers another," explains Montoya. Needless to say, he's a perfectionist. The result of this painstaking effort by both he and Andreis, is some of the best tasting, freshest, most delicious salsa I've ever had. It reminds me of a slower time, when we made salsa to go with the meal or as an appetizer, instead of making it to last. Montoya's Southwestern Salsa has a five day shelf life, but I can't imagine it lasting longer than an hour in any household. "I could eat it with a spoon, like gazpacho," I told Montoya, which made him smile. He gets a true sense of satisfaction out of producing a great product and also, a sense of service; he has brightened someone's day when they buy it.

Service should be Montoya's middle name. Beginning with the rank of Sergeant, then commissioned as an Officer in the Combat Arms Branch, Montoya has had four Middle East deployments with two Combat Environment Tours, serving in Active Duty, then retiring after 24 years. While stationed in Germany, he continued his salsa making service for fellow soldiers at dinners and events. It was through trial and error, and friendly feedback that he has honed his skill and discovered a heat level comfortable for all salsa lovers. "It's about flavor, not just heat," we agreed.

In addition to the people's choice award, Montoya has also received two first place awards at the San Juan County Fair for "Best Red Salsa" and "Best Green Chile Salsa," the latter of which, I've not had the pleasure of tasting, but I cannot wait. Speaking of waiting, we do not have to wait until Farmington Growers Market to buy this delicious salsa. The Montoyas have a booth at this weekend's Riverfest, in Farmington, Saturday, May 27th, and Sunday, May 28th. Just remember, this is fresh food, not fast food, so it may take a few minutes, but like anything great, it's well worth the wait.

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