Wow – this chestal thing is almost gone but it’s really jammed my tastebuds something awful! I mean…I can taste stuff..but I can’t TASTE it, y’know? It’s confusing because my sinuses are largely clear, so you’d think I could make the connection – but it’s a weird disconnect right now, probably a soft-palate issue. And, weirdly enough, chocolate is a bit off-kilter. Well, alrighty then! In an effort to figure out what does work I’ve been experimenting with some new spices and essences – and dagNABBIT! my regular go-to Geneva Spice House has broken away from the mothership and changed their whole lineup! It took me a minute to see that everything I was used to seeing has ..evolved. It’s now called 360Flavor and Spice. Same folks but new blends.
That type of change always give me hives. But the beauty of getting older is the understanding that the Universe couldn’t care less how I feel and I need to get over myself. So I stopped hissing, took a breath and let this incredibly impassioned, charming young man walk me through the new shop.
Not bad. Not bad at all. Part of the problem is rethinking spice blends. I rarely use any blends other than curries (because ain’t nobody got TIME (or knowledge) for that) – but I also think the
purist snob in me always thought blends were ‘cheating’ a bit (dumb, I know) – I’ve been a serious cook for over 30 years and mostly make my own blends. But because I opened my tiny little mind I came upon some things I would’ve never considered, like:
Moroccan Lemon – I never use preserved lemons but have been curious – this blend might be the gateway! Ingredients are Preserved Lemon salt, urfa biber pepper flakes, California Paprika, Lemon Juice Powder, Lemon Peel, China Cinnamon
I love me some Urfa Biber, so this should be fun!
… and don’t get me started: Truffle, honey, orange and Herbs de Provence!?? Truffled Honey & Herb (so new it’s not even on their website yet. I used this on some salmon and nearly fainted, it was that good!) – and see?? I would’ve NEVER come up with that combo!
Of course, The Spice House Mothership is still with us, blessed be! I’ve been a customer since Patty Erd’s parents had the first Spice House in Wauwatosa WI, waaay before the Internet when you had to get a paper catalogue mailed to your sorry ass! Gah, I miss those days! In the ensuing decades Patty and her husband Tom have taken TSH to new heights, sourcing even more obscure and intriguing spices and creating amazing spice blends (and tell me again why I snobbed the spice blends? Their Baharat , which I’ve used since The Flood, is DIVINE!)… and their Maharajah Curry blend with that great whack of saffron, omg sooo good…and just so’s ya know..they have Orris Root powder, which smells lovely just sprinkled in a little decorative dish – don’t eat it – just smell it.
This whole Spice Thing came about because I love my flavors and I wanted to give a caterer friend some of Mandy Aftel’s Chef’s Essences. Omg. Have any of you tried her essences? My first experience was at MiN New York, when Mindy Yang made some AMAZING cocktails with Mandy’s early bergamot & ylang ylang essences . Since that early foray, she has expanded her oeuvre to include peach (THE MOST AMAZING PEACH YOU WILL EVER SMELL OR TASTE! I swear, if Howard had used her essence for his Peachy Buns he would’ve won the Great British Bake Off
) – she also has these amazing finishing salts – I’m currently using the Wild Mushroom & Butter, which is stunning – and perfect for me, since I love the taste of mushrooms but am not overfond of a lot of mushroom textures (too many soggy pizzas, I guess). And don’t get me started on the Lime & Ginger. I nearly fainted. Perfect for just about everything I like to eat!
Anyhoo, I’m writing about spices because I can taste them – and they taste great! Do any of you have favorite spices/spice blends? Have any of you tried any of Mandy’s work (I urge you to do so – they are STUNNING!)
I promised The Girl I would show off her new raincoat. Yeah, yeah. She haz a raincoat. That is a full acre of dog to dry off …and..c’mon! It’s PINK!
Tell me about spices in your life. I’ll have her pull a winner for some perfume samples because HELL NAW YOU ARE NOT GETTING MY SPICES. Getcherown! Oh! and here’s a photo of my own spice area including my herb/pepper drying area ( that’s bronze fennel in the shopping bag – I am SUCH a nerd) – everything in there gets used alladetime! Big B is scared to death to go into this space (btw that’s his big jar of generic ‘cinnamon’ there (don’t ask – it’s not like he bakes or anything). I have no idea why he bought that. He’s mystified by the nuances of ‘real’ cinnamon and the idea of GRATING YOUR OWN? L-o-effin’ L! As long as I leave salt, pepper and garlic powder out for him, he’s happy as a clam at high tide. oooh! claaaams. Wonder if I could taste those?