It was a cold autumn evening and I was on my way to a Christmas concert in a nearby town when I spied a brand-spanking-new Penzey’s store. Had it not been for a slew of paleo food blogs I have seen referencing Penzey’s, the significance might have been utterly lost on me. But I knew immediately I would be making the trek back the following day to check it out up close and personal. In fact, I even managed to convince G to come along which meant we dragged our two boys as well.
Penzey’s is the top on-line seller of over 250 herbs, spices and seasoning blends from around the world. They have also branched out with several retail stores. Ordinarily when I see a recipe that contains a spice mix ingredient I just move on to something else. It has always seemed a bit presumptuous on the part of the person creating the recipe that we readers would necessarily have that particular spice mix on hand. Not only that, but while my kitchen cabinets are filled with a fairly respectable assortment of herbs and spices, I have never been big on spice mixes. So many of them have salt or sugar or MSG or the confounding “natural flavors” or all of the above that I was simply not interested. But after seeing Penzey’s referenced so many times I figured it would be worthwhile to investigate and I’m glad I did.
While ordering spices online is a perfectly reasonable thing to do – especially if you do not have access to a Penzey’s retail store – there is just something wonderful and sensual about being able to see and smell the offerings before making a selection. The Penzey’s store we visited was warm and inviting with a peaceful ambience and a friendly staff. The spices were well organized and most, if not all, of them were available to smell. There was even a small area for children to sit where they could draw pictures to be displayed on the store walls. While the boys were safely ensconced in the art area, G and I proceeded to sniff almost every herb, spice and mix in the store. A few more than once.
Here is what we brought home with us. Continue reading