One of the big changes we have made while creating our new menus of healthy food is increasing our use of spice. Now I am not talking about hot spice, yuk to that. No, I am talking about the real tasty spices that take your new dish to super flavor city! We have found we just love delving into the spices from India and Asia. So I was very excited to go for a drive recently just to check out a spice store and learn more! I had read an excellent article about Penzeys Spices on the How Chow blog, and since we were going to be in the area, I thought this could be a really cool new food adventure. Just spices. Hmmmm reminds me of the old SNL routines... Just Lamps.... Just Tape...
Now... Just Spices.
The Penzeys Spice Store we visited was set up so nicely that it was easy to navigate their 'spice world.' The individual displays have a large jar of each spice to open and sniff, along with a description of the origin, use, and flavor notes of the spice. Each of these well organized wooden display boxes had a choice of sizes of the spice or seasonings to purchase, either in glass jars or bags. I chose the small size glass containers to keep the spice fresh and easy to replace after a year or sooner.
Along with their vast selection of spices, there is also seasoning mixes to choose from in the store. There are even varieties of the same spice from different countries. Just the Paprika had four varieties.The colors of Penzeys Spices are deep, wonderful and vibrant, I have never seen Parsley flakes so green, Paprika so red, and Turmeric so yellow.. So many beautiful choices! I decided on some standard favorites, along with some new mixes to play with in recipes.
The jar says it's great on scrambled eggs, in dips, on fish, salads, rice, potatoes and chicken. The ingredients are: purple shallots, chives, green peppercorn, basil, tarragon, chervil, bay leaf and dill weed. Sounds Yummy. Of course being a former mural artist I had to purchase a jar called "Mural Of Flavor" which has some orange and lemon citrus peel along with spices.
After smelling most of the store, we left happily with our fresh bag of spices! We will definitely go back to Penzeys Spices, as there are always new things to try like Kala Jeera, Sumac, Juniper Berries, Mahlab, and a trio of pure extracts that contain no additives. The company has a number of stores across the country, and you can go to their website to find out if there is one in your area. They seem like such a friendly company too, as their catalog contained many letters from customers that featured recipes and stories. Also their gift boxes look like a fantastic present for your favorite cook! You can order from them online if you do not have a store near you. Remember to store your spices in a drawer or a cupboard to keep them out of the light, and not near stoves, on refrigerators or near dishwashers. Dry and dark areas are best to keep your spices fresh and flavorful, although some people like to keep theirs in the refrigerator or freezer. In the summer months it is better for sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and paprika to be stored in the refrigerator. Just look at these colors! Happy cooking!