Curly Girl Pops Owner Launches Taíno Kitchen | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Curly Girl Pops Owner Launches Taíno Kitchen


Published November 1, 2022 at 3:52 p.m.
Updated November 2, 2022 at 10:16 a.m.

Arealles Ortiz - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • Arealles Ortiz

Arealles Ortiz's rainbow umbrella and matching popsicles are a staple of summer farmers markets around Vermont. Now, the Curly Girl Pops owner is launching a pop-up and catering business to bring additional bright flavors to the state.

With Taíno Kitchen, based at her Montpelier home, Ortiz will cook her family's Puerto Rican recipes, serving appetizers, rice dishes and desserts made with local ingredients. Her new business will make its debut at Four Quarters Brewing's winter farmers market in Winooski on Sunday, November 13, and pop up at herbal tonic business ALKAME CO in Burlington's Soda Plant on Saturday, November 26.

Taíno Kitchen's sorullitos de maíz - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Taíno Kitchen's sorullitos de maíz

"Taíno Kitchen is a way for me to connect, feel grounded, and feel good about sharing family recipes and food that tells a story about the history of Puerto Rico," said Ortiz, who will continue to operate her popular plant-based popsicle business in the summer.

Taíno Kitchen will focus on traditional dishes she learned from her grandparents, such as barriguitas de vieja — a sweet, squash-based breakfast fritter with a name that translates to "old lady's belly," Ortiz said — and savory cassava fritters known as alcapurrias.

Pasteló and budín - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Pasteló and budín

A root vegetable native to Puerto Rico, cassava is a historically significant crop for the island's Indigenous Taíno people. Ortiz makes several versions of alcapurrias, including chickpea, mushroom and onion; ground beef with olives; and chicken with olives.

She will also serve empanadas, arroz con gandules, pionono and pastelón — which Ortiz called two "Puerto Rican take[s] on lasagna" made with sweet plantains — and desserts such as flan and budín.

Ortiz previewed her Taíno Kitchen menu last month at a private dinner in collaboration with Cabot's Nama Farm. Now officially licensed to cater, she is taking orders for small companies and private dinners of eight to 10 people, and she plans to appear at the Four Quarters market through the winter.

Bread pudding topped with raisins and edible flowers - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Bread pudding topped with raisins and edible flowers

"I'm starting small and gravitating toward culture and finding a way to connect with ancestors," Ortiz said. "As a solopreneur, I'm trying to be intentional with my life but also share that with people."