Trends

I recently attended a culinary conference in New York which was titled The Fashion of Food. There were some extremely interesting feature sessions, many about food and fashion being subjects of trends, fads or cycles. It is sometimes hard to discern what is the real deal and what is a flash in the pan trend that will not stand the duration of time. It occurred to me, as I listened to a wide variety of speakers discuss a diverse selection of food topics, that words fall into the same category.  They go through trends, sometimes going mainstream, as when a word once newly created had enough use to get added to the Webster Dictionary. Sometimes they are overused and abused to the point that they become outed, or even banned by editors. The website , Serious Eats recently put out its secret list of banned words. Continue reading

Culinary Space Design and abc kitchen

abc kitchen, New York

At the IACP conference in New York this spring, I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion at the Bon Appetit test kitchen. This was held at their newly designed kitchen, which I believe served as more of a showpiece kitchen for hosting functions, than an actual test kitchen. The panel contained designer Adam Farmerie, David Rockwell, author of the book Spectacle, Matt Lightner of the newly opened Altera and restaurant consultant Clark Wolf. Perhaps restaurant design is not a subject I had given much thought to before, so their thoughts about design were quite enlightening to me. Continue reading

Wonderful Weddings!

a href=”http://blog.thespicehouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/4.6.12-797.jpg”>Many wonderful things have happened to us over the years we have been in business, but very few have touched us as much as this event. On March 9th, we were particularly moved when a very special wedding took place. Elizabeth Theis married Landon Hall. What made this so heart warming to us, was that they met while working at The Spice House. Elizabeth had worked for us for a few years, we love her, she is a delight to her coworkers and our customers, and no one will take better care of you in the shop. Continue reading

Football and Cheese

With the Green Bay Packers headed to the Super Bowl (sorry, Chicago, we love you but we’re Wisconsin born and bred), we thought we’d take a moment to celebrate two of Wisconsin’s favorite industries: football and cheese. (Spices are a tad further down the line.) The Green Bay Packers were formed in 1919, and by 1923 were a franchise of the NFL. Today they remain the only team still associated with the small town of its founding. With strong ties to the local community and a rabidly devoted fan base (every home game has been sold out since 1960), the Packers are a publicly owned team. Many Wisconsinites have a share framed and hanging on their walls. (Check our Evanston location for one of these.)

The name “Packers” come from their original sponsors the Indian Packing Company. Despite this initial association with a meat packing company, Packers fans are commonly known as Cheeseheads after the most prominent local industry. European immigrants, largely from Germany and its neighbors, brought dairy farming traditions with them to Wisconsin in the 19th century, and Wisconsin’s first commercial cheese factory started operations in 1841. Today Wisconsin ranks behind only much larger California in milk production, and leads the nation in cheese production (and, I would guess, consumption).  With 600 varieties being commercially produced, Wisconsin cheese accounts for about 25% of all domestic cheese. This includes conventional, mass-produced cheeses, but also covers a wide array of artisan cheeses. Wisconsin has the highest number of licensed cheesemakers and is the only state to offer a European-style Master Cheesemaker program. And unlike most US dairy states, Wisconsin has a high proportion of small, grazing-based dairies (as opposed to the more common industrialized types), so the quality of milk and cream for cheese making is high. In short, this is a state that takes its cheese seriously. So it’s an indication of how much we love our football team that we wear cheese on our heads to show our support.

Patty and Tom will be heading to Dallas to cheer on their local team, but for those of us staying here, cheese based snacks are on the menu.  Sure, there’s always classic nacho dip cheese and crackers, but how about cheese-filled puff pastry shaped into the Pack’s oval “G”?  Or cheese fondue?  Or classic Wisconsin cheese soup?  There’s only a week of planning before the big game, so get creative, get cheesy, and GO PACKERS!

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Return of the Farmers' Markets

The Evanston Farmers’ Market opened this Saturday, and the Green City Market will have it’s fist day Wednesday.  All over the region farmers’ markets are starting up for the season.  This is exciting to those of us who love cooking with fresh, local ingredients; who look forward to the one (or more if you’re lucky) morning a week of prowling through stalls filled with just-picked fruits, dirt-streaked vegetables, and radiant greens, who know our favorite farmers by name and have a preferred vendor for different each type of produce.

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I find that no matter how much of the summer’s fruit I freeze, can, or preserve, by February I’m out of last summer’s produce.  By March, when the weather starts hinting at spring, I start perusing harvest schedules, dreaming of ripe strawberries and pea shoots.  By April, when morels are sprouting in the woods and good asparagus is available even at chain supermarkets, I’m writing down recipes and getting my reusable bags ready.  So when the Evanston market opened for the first time on Saturday, I was there early (before the some of the vendors were even finished setting up), ready to stock up on whatever produce was ripe and ready so early in the spring.

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Baconfest – and a recipe – cool email connections!


Bacon-Poached-Creole-Wings-2A most wonderful byproduct of answering the company email is learning how many customers of ours are doing really fun and interesting things. Recently a total stranger and I became acquainted via this email.

“Hello, I wanted to let you know that a recipe i created using your King Creole Spice has been selected as one of 5 finalists at the Nueske’s Amateur Cook-off at Baconfest Chicago on April 10th.  Here is the link to my Recipe.

Here is the link to the Baconfest announcement http://baconfestchicago.com/2010/03/22/announcing-the-5-finalists-for-the-nueskes-amateur-cook-off-competition/
I really enjoy the quality and freshness of your spices and have featured them in other recipes on my food blog as well.
I’m hopeful that the King Creole Seasoning will help my recipe shine above the competition!  Have a great day.

Brad”

Okay, we are from Wisconsin, where it goes without saying that Nueske’s bacon is THE BEST. Also, no one loves chicken wings more than I do. I had never dreamed of putting the two together. Add King Creole seasoning, and I have to believe in this recipe. Go Brad.

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Chicago's culinary past, present, and future

We're always interested in the next generation of chefs at The Spice House, and not just because they'll hopefully be our customers.  We're proud to sponsor a variety of events and fundraisers for local culinary schools.  Friday, we had the opportunity to attend an event to which we'd contributed: the annual culinary symposium at Robert Morris College.

The theme for this year's event was Culinary Chicago: Past Present and Future, and it included lectures on topics from beer to candy to politics.  Speakers included an impressive array of Chicago culinary and industry professionals – keynote speaker Carrie Nahabedian of Naha, Hopleaf owner Mike Roper, Two Brothers Brewery founder Jim Ebel, author Marilyn Pocius, Chef Magazine editor Lacey Griebeler, and many others.

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Anticipation

11.20.2009 004 It occurs to me that anticipation might be one of the most wonderful things in life. Anticipation is a positive energy of its own volition. Currently we are anticipating Thanksgiving dinner, as the host, my brother, is a fantastic cook! He makes three or four different turkeys, and then packs everyone a leftover care package. We also have business anticipations for the holidays. We are in a nice position, because of the uniqueness of our business, that PR really just floats in to us, usually via email these days. Each holiday season, we get some press for our spice themed gift boxes . We never know where these mentions will come from, and it is always with great anticipation that we look forward to them, whatever the venue. This year we are excited to have several connections working for us, including Saveur Magazine and a new television show about comfort food hosted by Art Smith.

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Slow Food – City's Edge

We try very hard to become active in the communities that are home to each of our shops. cheap viagra overnight88834012875697dc5970c ” style=”margin: 1px;” title=”11-21-08 years photos 457″ src=”/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/postimages/6a00e552094ec88834012875697dc5970c-320pi.jpg” alt=”11-21-08 years photos 457″ />We look to make connections with people who are really into food, families, cooking. One easy way to do this is for us to be involved with Slow Food . Members of this organization are pretty serious about food and its sources, and naturally cooking and eating. I truly believe this is a worthwhile organization, it is dedicated to making sure the food we eat is good, clean and fair. I served on the board of directors for the Chicago chapter of Slow Food for almost 8 years, and consequently, was very excited to hear a new chapter was being formed in the same area as our newest Geneva Spice shop, the Western suburbs. They called the chapter City's Edge. This photo was taken at one of their first convivial dinners, a pot luck held at a local gem of a farm, Heritage Prairie Market, where we dined on the most wonderful dishes. The star of the meal were a few of these Heritage turkeys that were brought by the Cavenys of Caveny Farms (visit this website if you want to order an outstanding Heritage turkey to grace your Thanksgiving day meal.) It is now time for the second annual pot luck dinner.

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Spice House wins LTHForum's Great Neighborhood Resource award.

If you are any sort of a foodie who lives in the Chicago area, you probably already know about LTHforum. Gnr09.4217.web
Their website describes their forum as “the Chicago based culinary chat site”, although often their discussions roam far off the radar from just the Chicago area. They are known to get in their cars and drive 100 miles to follow up on a hot tip for a good sausage, burger, bbq, fried chicken, ice cream, a farmer’s market, a special Asian market, in fact, if you name it delicious, they will come. These people really know their food. You won’t find a better forum out there filled with intelligent discussions about food, inspired recipes, photos ranging from wonderful home cooked meals to fine dining in top notch restaurants.This is no flippant toss-out-any comment-forum, so think your posts through thoroughly before you make them, or you may be taken to task! On a recent long road trip, we were having a conversation about molecular gastronomy, and we greatly enjoyed going online via the phone and searching the LTHForum site for this subject. What turned up was some very entertaining verbal volleys in this post about molecular gastronomy started by a high end chef. About two months ago, we were greatly honored to be nominated….

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