Friday, May 11, 2007

Spicing It Up

The highlight of my day was a field trip with my friend Kris to a new store in Rockville – Penzey’s Spice House. She has been using their spices for 30 years now, courtesy of her sister who lives in Chicago.

Penzey’s is a mom and pop business which until recently had 3 retail stores in the midwest and thrived with mail orders. Their first store in this area recently opened in Rockville. At Kris’s suggestion, we decided to go check it out.

The smell upon walking through the front door is that of all the ethnic cuisines put together – pleasant but difficult to sort out. I grabbed a shopping basket and started around, smelling the samples as I went.

I never realized that curry or cinnamon or vanilla from different parts of the world could smell so entirely different. At one point we both started sneezing uncontrollably from too much aroma.

I’m never good in a smorgasbord situation. True to form, my basket was full to the top after I had made the rounds. But the good news is I bought only small quantities of everything, wanting to decide what to buy more of on a return trip. For a whopping $32, I had 10 new spice treats ranging from cinnamon to basil to curry to paprika to “Sunny Paris” and a few more.

Someone once told me that the shelf-life of spices is a mere 6 months. Kris and I both confessed to having cans of old spices. (I don’t think they even come in cans any longer.)

So when I got home, some of the antiques had to go to make room for the new ones. Some people collect coins. Some collect stamps. I collect spices, as you can see below. I will definitely be returning to Penzey’s.


Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

That sounds like so much fun!

If I open a jar of spice and can't smell it anymore, I toss it out. Too bad that spices aren't available in tiny batches anywhere except in Rockville. Oh well!

8:42 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Very nice! My most recent spices came from the spice market in Istanbul. I felt like a kid in a candy store.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- I should invite you over to do a sniff test on my many spices. I would probably end up throwing half of them out!

Kristin -- I can imagine that buying spices in Istanbul would be exciting. Did you bring a lot back with you?

3:58 PM  
Anonymous David said...

what a nice looking spice rack! can't wait to sample the results.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

David -- Nice try at getting me to cook! :)

It is actually a very nice spice rack -- boths side of it. It's one of the better decisions we made when we re-did the kitchen.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I actually don't like the smell of too many spices and it's a pet peeve of mine that in many bulk stores, the crackers, cookies, ot whatever, picks up the taste of the stronger spices that I hate.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

I'm a sucker in specialty stores.

7:51 AM  

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