We met Sanath and Deepa… via fax! The memory of having made the acquaintance of this wonderful Sri Lankan couple using such old-school technology is amusing and nostalgic.
We knew that Mexicans are the biggest consumers of true cinnamon in the world. We also knew that the best terroir—or growing conditions for the grade we wanted in our spice shop—is the southwestern coast of the island country of Sri Lanka. Having never been to Sri Lanka, however, and as we didn’t know anyone who lived there, we decided to get our cinnamon from Mexico where we had loyal and ”resourceful” friends who were soon sending us gunny sacks of 4-foot Sri Lankan cinnamon quills, by mail.
It was a relief whenever our cinnamon arrived from Mexico. The arrangement we had with our ”supplier” (a friend’s brother and sometimes travel agent whose real calling was living ”the good life”) was not suitable for us. Our goal was to establish a supply chain headed by someone reliable. We were anxious to introduce real cinnamon to our clients, many of whom had been led to believe that the cassia bark they consumed, which has only one of the four volatile oils found in true cinnamon, was the real deal (more on cinnamon vs. cassia in this video). Continue reading →
Black pepper is everywhere, but doesn’t seem to come from anywhere. India, right? Why are we so concerned with where some food comes from but not others? Black peppercorns adorn dinner tables around the world, yet their origins, their terroirs, are rarely discussed. This may be why there are so many myths about black peppercorns. A quick response to the question, “where does black pepper come from,” will highlight just how important this question is. And where better to start than with the two most famous pepper varietals: Malabar Pepper and Tellicherry Pepper.
Where do Peppercorns Come from?
Black peppercorn varietals are particularly place-based: their most distinguishing features tend to derive from where they are grown and processed. The pepper vine in general, piper nigrum, originated in the hills around Kerala, in southwestern India, where is has been dried into black, white, and green pepper for millennia. Learn more about the process here. Continue reading →
It’s true that brunch is enjoyed all year, but the Holidays make a great occasion to brunch at home with the whole family under one roof. It’s also a great chance to make a meal for that cousin you didn’t get a chance to see or a friend who was on vacation. If you really want to succeed, we suggest a combination of sweet and savory dishes, most of which can be prepared the day before. The less-experienced diners will probably throw themselves into the sausages and eggs en cocotte, while the old adepts are more likely to enjoy their holiday with the delicious orange and melon salad, or, better still, with another cup of cardamom coffee!
The best parties are usually linked to the kitchen in some way. If you want to enjoy your gathering as much as your guests, standing around the table, lined up at the kitchen island, or huddled around the oven, it pays to have a course of canapés and hors d’oeuvres to share. With a little organization, you can have everything ready ahead of time, or at least minimize the last-minute work you have to do when your guests arrive. Ideally, you’d serve both hot and cold dishes, and even play around with textures and colors! Don’t neglect cocktails, while still keeping those who don’t drink alcohol in mind. For a stress-free evening, ask your guests to serve a morsel or two and let them serve (and re-serve!) themselves.
True connoisseurs already have all they need, and know best how to satisfy their own developed tastes, or so they think. People who really enjoy cooking, however, never tire of discovering new, rare spices or terroirs. And, with luck, you’ll even get to taste the fruits of their new discoveries! Our Grand Cru Pepper Trio brings together three exceptional black peppers, sure to please both staunch traditionalists and adventurous cooks alike. For those who are always on the hunt for rare, mysterious spices, we recommend our Japanese yuzu or even our Korean pepper threads. Stick to classic gifts like Lemon Herb Fleur de Sel or a ceramic salt cellar signed by Arik de Vienne, or even an 8-spice chai, fragranced with vanilla. West Indian bay leaf, is just as aromatic as its better-known cousin, Mediterranean bay leaf, and also presents surprising notes of citrus and clove. Of course, for us, it’s not really a holiday without a real spice blend: the fragrant Ethiopian Berbere and the traditional Ras-el-Hanout are sure to please anyone who’s excited by aromas both subtle and complex.
Jams, cookies, pickles… handmade goodies are always the best! They’re not just less expensive than store-bought foods, they make excellent last-minute gifts for anyone, be it a child’s favorite teacher, a coworker, or whoever invites you over for New Year’s Eve. It never takes a lot of time and is always well appreciated by your loved ones. Pick a weekend afternoon, park yourself in the kitchen and get the whole family to pitch in! And you should always make more than you think you need: it’s great to have an extra jar of stuffed dates or truffles nearby to offer unexpected visitors (or even to treat yourself once the holidays are over).
Start your holiday planning with these suggestions!
Eating like a Spice Trekker is easier than you think! In their new book, Ethné and Philippe invite you into their kitchen to explore the dishes that comprise their family meals. The recipes presented are both gluten and dairy free, all while ensuring their deliciousness and encouraging the joy of sharing food with others. The menu presented here uses the cookbook’s recipe variations, which we assure you will please both hardcore paleo eaters as well as your fickler diners. We also like the idea of serving a soup after a cold fish dish and a few salads, which can simply be placed on the table so each guest can serve themselves. Swap your turkey and potatoes for a pork tenderloin with parsnip and finish with a fun, festive dessert.
It’s a well-known fact that foodies are easy to please, particularly if they have a sweet tooth! If you have someone in your family who’s always putting some pie or tray of cookies in the oven, our Dessert Spice Trio is all you need. If you’re in more of a DIY mood, a bottle of Vanilla Extract or West Indian Extract is a perfect gift- all you have to do is fill it with alcohol. Feeling like venturing into more unfamiliar territory? Try our Chai Spice Blend or even Silk Road, both of which are sure to enhance any dessert. If you’re even thinking about making chocolate cookies or brownies at home, be sure to add some of our Oaxacan Chocolate Spices. Success is guaranteed!