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Spicetrekkers.com - On the hunt for the world's best spices and blends

On the hunt for the world's best spices and blends

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Grilling Guide: Dry Spice Rub Basics

Grilling Guide: Dry Spice Rub Basics - Épices de cru

It’s difficult to think of cooking in summer without thinking of BBQ, and harder still (certainly for us!) to cook on a BBQ without spices. When the time comes to season meats, fish, and vegetables before grilling, the possibilities in terms of spices and seasonings is highly varied. Among the most popular- and without a doubt the easiest to use- we find rub style blends, which are often called dry marinades.

These blends are made of spices to which you add 5% salt. Salt draws out some of the juices, which mixes with the spices to form a crust that caramelizes during cooking. It’s enough to just rub the “rub” on the meat between 15 minutes and 1 hour before cooking. For bigger pieces of meat, you can let it sit for 24 hours, then cook it over low heat for a longer time. For smaller pieces of meat (steak, for example), it’s better to cook quickly over high heat. If you’re seasoning fish, it’s preferable to add, along with the salt, a little acid (lemon, tamarind, etc). Let it marinate for 10 minutes at most to avoid drying out the flesh.

Grilling Guide: Dry Spice Rub Basics - Épices de cru

Nothing is easier, then, than creating your own rub by starting with your favorite spices. It’s also possible to combine other blends, like the one shown in this recipe for Spice Trekker’s Rub. Always remember that spice blends that have been previously roasted (like Sri Lankan Black Curry) are not advised for grilling. Happy Grilling!

Our favorite Rubs

Meet the staff: Benjamin

Meet the staff: Benjamin - Épices de cru

The employees at our headquarters, nicknamed 2222, work with our teas and spices every day. It is they who, over time, have made this company what it is. We invite you to join, each month, a conversation with each one of them.

Benjamin, “Mister Turmeric,” is the chief spice grinder at the company, as well as our in-house gentleman journeyman. He is both handy in all things mechanic and able to bake with a delicate touch. As the office’s designated tea-preparer, he presides over the afternoon break with a specially selected beverage suited for the day. Always present, always encouraging, the staff at 2222 have come to count on Benjamin for support in whatever they might require of him.

Where are you from?

I’m from St. Julie, a small city near Montreal. It’s very pleasant, full of parks and trees, that kind fo place.

Can you describe an interesting job you had before working at Épices de Cru?

Well! Maybe you don’t know the Compagnie Franche de la Marine. It’s a kind of historical reenactment troupe. In the summer months, we performed military reenactments, in full 18th century army gear, every day. But it wasn’t just a performance: before the summer we trained and drilled for months. We still used the historic training regimen, which included marching, making formations, and of course, working with live firearms. Even years later, I can still feel the discipline over here. Continue reading →

Istanbul Spice Market: A Feast for Every Sense but Taste

Posted on by Steve

Istanbul Spice Market: A Feast for Every Sense but Taste - Épices de cru

So, you’re interested in buying spices in Istanbul, and you’ve come to the spice company for tips. Good on you! We have a lot to say about buying spices at Istanbul’s Egyptian Bazaar (spice market). Istanbul holds a vaunted place in the annals of spice trading as one of the oldest and largest continuous hubs of spice exchange on earth. It lies at the end of the silk road, where merchants and chefs from Asia, Africa, and Europe all met to trade. The city’s millennia of experience in processing foodies is both a positive and negative for modern shoppers. As far as the spice market is concerned, it might lean a little negative.

This is a pilgrimage for anyone who works in the world of spice, and we very much wanted to see how spices were treated at this great crossroad. The internet had prepared us for a thoroughly touristic experience, but we weren’t entirely going as tourists. As with any pilgrimage, this trip would summon the spirits wrestling within: in this case, our tourist and professional sides.

Istanbul Spice Market: A Feast for Every Sense but Taste - Épices de cru Continue reading →

The art of iced tea: cold brew

Cold Brewed Teas

The warm season is creeping slowly upon us, and with it the beautiful days that make you just wanna lounge about under the sun. Having a pitcher of iced tea in your fridge, ready to go, is a good plan of attack. It may just become your best friend. Of course the advantage of making it yourself is that you can adjust it to your taste, sweetened or otherwise, and even add some citrus, berries, or spices. The possibilities are endless and you can go on all sorts of adventures, each more ridiculous than the next.

The art of iced tea: cold brew - Épices de cru

Starting in May, more and more customers have come to the store in search of some honest advice on the art of making good iced tea at home. Their questions always revolve around the choice of tea. And our answers are always tragically simple: you can make iced tea with any of them. All you need to do is choose one you like.

There are basically two schools of thought concerning the infusion of iced tea. The first is best if you’re in a hurry. Imagine it’s sunny out and, suddenly, you’re overtaken by the desire to have an iced tea. If you have enough ice in the fridge, you can make a concentrated hot infusion of your favorite tea and pour it in a pitcher filled with ice. It’s quick and effective, but tea made with boiling water doesn’t last as long and it tends to release some bitterness as well. Continue reading →

Muntok pepper

Posted on by Ethne


Muntok pepper - Épices de cru

We knew we had to go to Bangka ourselves. We knew as soon as our friend and apprentice spice hunter, Ihsan, told us how difficult it was becoming to get good white pepper in his hometown, Padang, in West Sumatra. Ihsan had gone to Bangka island on his own last year but was confronted with obstacles put up by stubborn traders who wanted nothing to do with a young man they didn’t know and who they decided had no business in the pepper business.

Bangka island is just off the eastern coast of Sumatra and it seemed so exotic to us that even the pronunciation of Pangkal Pinang, the capital presented linguistic challenges. Ihsan mentioned having spoken briefly to Herru, a man he had contacted on his previous trip, so we felt that getting in touch with Herru would be the obvious place to start our excursion. He was the only person we “knew” on the island, so we unanimously elected him our point man. Continue reading →

Visiting Chios: Challenge accepted

Posted on by Steve


The small, liver-shaped island of Chios presents a unique challenge to travellers. Punctured by jagged, impossible mountains and dotted with an endless variety of villages, Chios can be circumnavigated in a day but only understood in a lifetime. Each descent into a new valley reveals another undiscovered world, and every meal presents an unexpected delight. It is impossible to enjoy everything the island has to offer. Even the people of Chios are pleasantly surprised to learn something new about a neighbour or natural feature hidden only a few minutes away. Today it would be impossible to trace the origins of the customs that make up daily life in Chios. Suffice it to say that a combination of steep mountain divides, varied microclimates, and walled villages means that Chios changes around every 10 kilometres. Continue reading →

Tastes and Flavours: Crete and Provence

Epices de cru - Tastes and Flavours: Crete and Provence

Crete is situated in the eastern Mediterranean in southern Greece. It was on that island that Minoan culture was born (2600 B.C.); becoming the first European civilization, and one which has had a defining and long lasting influence on Greek culture. Already at this time, grains, olives and grapes were considered the pillars of their food foundation. It was this basic combination, which came to be identified as the Mediterranean trilogy that allowed many of the civilizations in and around the Mediterranean basin to prosper.

Beginning in the VI century B.C., the Greeks established many colonies in what is today southern France. They introduced an agricultural system which they inherited from Cretans. Centuries later, this region became the first provincial of the Roman Empire, the name by which it is still called to this day. Continue reading →

Meet the staff: Julien-Pier

Meet the staff: Julien-Pier

The employees in our stores at the Jean Talon Market are the true experts in matters of spices, tea, and cooking in general. It is they who, over time, have made your visits such a unique experience. We invite you to discover, each month, an introduction to each one of them. This interview is translated from French. 

Juilen-Pier is most pronounced by his versatility. Not afraid to get his hands dirty, he always volunteers for manual tasks of every kind (he was everywhere painting the walls when we were renovating our boutique). He makes kombucha himself and loves to impart his valuable knowledge to anyone who’ll go on the journey with him, particularly with his passion for rock n roll. He is deeply interested in the benefits of teas and spices and serves, for his colleagues, as a surprising- and sometimes wild!- source of knowledge.

Meet the staff: Julien-Pier

Which spice or blend is your favorite?

I particularly like Sri Lrankan Black Curry, a relatively sweet curry with notes of roasted nuts. I often use it in soups and dahls. In fact, I put a little in pretty much everything, since it’s a versatile curry that you can add as a finishing spice at the end. Continue reading →

A Toast To Our Stores on the Eve of Their Marriage

A Toast To Our Stores on the Eve of Their Marriage - Epices de cru

Last year, we celebrated the tenth anniversary of our store, Olives et Épices. Little did we know that this marked the beginning of a totally new adventure for us. The idea of putting tea and spices under one roof, united at last, had been running through the minds of the de Vienne family for a long time. It’s a project that will finally be realized in just one week at the Jean-Talon Market. Our one and only store (where our Tea Bar used to be) where we can find the whole team, ready to give advice and travel with you. With a little wisp of nostalgia, I asked the employees to share some of the memories they accumulated over the years.

Eric now occupies the post of Director General for the company, but he started on the floor at the store in the market. He was there for the grand opening: “I put the ‘open’ sign up on the door of Olives et Épices, which opened in a whole new wing of the Jean Talon Market, on the Henri-Julien side. It was just us and the other people who were ready for the official opening day… it wasn’t a big crowd, but we all pretty well on edge. And we were pretty proud of our five little spice blends, and our shelves (empty!), on which we would sporadically put mortars to fill the space.” Continue reading →

Meet the staff: Marie-Pier

The employees in our stores at the Jean Talon Market are the true experts in matters of spices, tea, and cooking in general. It is they who, over time, have made your visits such a unique experience. We invite you to discover, each month, an introduction to each one of them. This interview is translated from French. 

Meet the staff: Marie-Pier - Épices de cru

Marie-Pier is a true source of quiet strength for our team, and everyone here agrees that her calm, sweet nature makes for an exceptional colleague. Deeply curious and passionate about cooking, she collects cookbooks (and literary books of all kinds) and never misses the opportunity to develop her knowledge of tea and spices, which she sometimes shares on our blog. She will also starting giving seminars on spices this fall.

What is your favorite spice blend?

Zaatar, a blend made of the thyme that bears its name, sumac and sesame, along with some other spices and a little salt. It’s a blend that I’ll use anywhere, any time. Continue reading →

Tastes and Flavours : Yucatan

Philippe & Ethné in Yucatan

The Yucatan Penninsula is located between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, making it a meeting place between Central America, the West-Indies and Mexico. This emplacement means the region is one of the most important intersections of spices in the Americas.

Yucatan food is characterized by rustic dishes with uncommon flavours. Other than a few hot exceptions, dishes tend to be dominated by sour and salty. By contrast, accompanying salsas are ferociously hot.

The cuisine of the Mayas, who inhabit the Yucatan, has long been composed of corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, chiles, annatto, turkey, and wild game. With the arrival of the Spanish to the continent, new ingredients were added, including: garlic, onion, citrus, and herbs and spices from the Mediterranean world, as well as chicken. Later, in the 19th century, an important wave of Syrian immigration contributed a deeper understanding of spice blends and a love of grilling to the local cuisine. From this slow intermingling an original cuisine was born, quite different from the cuisines of other regions around Mexico, one that unites the fragrances of spices like cumin and allspice with smattered herbs like epazote and Yucatan oregano, a variety remarkably different from the one from its European counterpart. Continue reading →

Tastes and Flavours: Southern India

Tastes and Flavours: Southern India - Epices de cru

The Malabar Coast, in the Southwest of India, is, quite possibly, the most fabulous place in the history of the Spice Road. It’s not only where pepper originated, but it’s also there, deep in the jungle, that one finds one of the rarest spices in the world: cardamom, which lends its name to the very hills in which it grows.

In antiquity, East Asian spices like cinnamon, cassia, clove, star anise, nutmeg and mace, would pass by the Spice Coast to eventually reach the Middle East and finally Europe. It was in well-known ports like Goa, Cochin and Tellicherry, that Arab sailors, like the Sinbad of 1,001 Nights, would come to buy the spices of the Hindu Kingdoms. Continue reading →

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