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Tainos Sofrito and Gula Gula Empanadas. (Credit: Rachel Young photos)

Like the best relationships, food is simply better when it’s together. That’s why we love these perfect pairings from the Riverhead Farmers Market, which operates every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 221 East Main Street. Read on to see the combinations our taste buds are digging from vendors — and why.

1.) Gula Gula Empanadas ($4 each, $15 for a dozen) with Tainos Sofrito ($11 for 6 ounces or two for $20)

Why they’re a match: Long Island-based Tainos Sofrito, an aromatic Spanish cooking base and seasoning made with onion, garlic, peppers, cilantro, wild coriander, sea salt and lime, is delicious enough to be eaten by the spoonful. It also makes a wonderful dipping sauce for any of Gula Gula’s stuffed pastries. Indecisive? We suggest pairing a tablespoon (or two!) of Sofrito with one of Gula Gula’s handmade pulled pork barbecue empanadas.

“I think those two flavors would really complement each other,” said Gula Gula owner Luchi Masliah, who’s opening a Mattituck storefront later this year.

Mecox Bay Dairy cheese and Backyard Brine Holiday Thyme pickles.
Mecox Bay Dairy cheese and Backyard Brine Holiday Thyme pickles.

2.) Backyard Brine Holiday Thyme Pickles ($7.99 a jar) with Mecox Bay Dairy blue cheese ($28 a pound)

Why they’re a match: Pickles and cheese might sound like a bizarre combination, but Backyard Brine co-owner Randy Kopke, who handcrafts these crunchy, spice-infused snacks in Northport, insists they’re a match.

“It’s a good combo,” he said. “I grew up in a German family. It was always pickles and cheese.”

Stuart Johnsen, a chef at Mecox Bay Dairy in Bridgehampton, agrees.

“The pickles make the cheese sharper and stronger,” he said.


oysters and cHarissa seasoning.
Oysterponds Shellfish oysters and cHarissa seasoning.

3.) cHarissa Authentic Moroccan Seasoning ($5 for 2.5 ounces, $10 for 8 ounces or $20 for 22 ounces) with Oysterponds Shellfish oysters ($10 a dozen)

Why they’re a match: “It’s good on everything” isn’t Cutchogue-based cHarissa’s slogan for no reason. This all-purpose seasoning, made with cumin, Spanish paprika, garlic powder, sea salt and cayenne pepper, adds a kick to any dish — particularly seafood, owner Earl Fultz said.

After shucking your oysters, add some butter and a little cHarissa to them, said Phil Mastrangelo, owner of Oysterponds Shellfish (formerly Race Rock Oysters) in Orient. Throw them on the grill and cook until the butter has melted, he said.

Blue Duck Bakery bread and Arlotta olive oil.
Blue Duck Bakery bread and Arlotta olive oil.

4.) Arlotta Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($20 a bottle) with a baguette from Blue Duck Bakery ($3 for a small loaf; $4 for a large)

Why they’re a match: This organic olive oil, which is sold at farmers markets across Long Island, comes in a variety of flavors including hot pepper, rosemary and blood orange and is sure to jazz up any of the Riverhead eatery’s crunchy yet chewy baguettes.

“The olive oil works very well, especially for a bruschetta,” Carrie Severa of Blue Duck Bakery said.

coffee cake and Tend coffee.
Chez Hedwige coffee cake and Tend Coffee’s Winter Harvest.

5.) Chez Hedwige of Valley Stream coffee cake ($6 a piece) with Tend Coffee’s Winter Harvest ($2 a cup or $14 for a 16-ounce bag)

Why they’re a match: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but we’d be remiss not to point out how satisfying this gluten and soy-free coffee cake made with coconut milk is with a piping hot cup of organic Tend Coffee.

The Shirley company’s seasonal Winter Harvest, a dark roast made with candied citrus and smoky chestnuts, “offsets the sweetness of the cake,” employee Cindy Young said.