Edible Souvenirs: A SH Old Town Tradition

There is a tasty tradition at the Spice House (at least in our Old Town store), which we typically celebrate with the return of a manager or another from vacation or travel.  Many of us spend a good amount of time taking food very seriously, and our connections as spice retailers often bring about opportunities to sample a lot of seriously high quality food and treats from kitchens around the city.  So, from time to time it is refreshing, as a change of pace, to lower our standards a bit and indulge in something that is not overtly culinary, but still very delicious:  snack chips.

What is your favorite, oddly-flavored variety of snack chip?

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Spice House Sling

Cocktail hour at the Spice House Oldtown

Last week, a kind gentleman representing the fine spiced liqueur, Bénédictine, stopped by the shop. He was looking to procure a wide variety of herbs and spices, each representing  prime flavor notes in Bénédictine's closely guarded secret recipe. Using these, he would create an aroma kit, like those used by wine tasters, to demonstrate his liqueur's depth to costumers. With the aid of Bridget, Old Town's manager, the gentleman was so pleased with the Spice House that he offered a bottle for us to enjoy. So the question was posed, “how best to honor such a fine gift?” With a custom cocktail, that's how! This is how the “Spice House Sling” was born. Continue reading

Top It With a Fried Egg

For as long as I can remember, which isn't long, the focus of American cuisine has trended in two decipherable and opposite directions: (1) cooking and eating more healthily, and (2) extreme flavor indulgence at, sometimes, the expense of good health. It could be the lack of necessity (I haven’t yet eclipsed the quarter-century mark), or maybe it is the way I was raised (my dad served many a bacon-wrapped bratwurst for brunch), but I’ve found over the years that food trends rooted wholly in maximizing flavor and deliciousness have held my attention far better than the ones that purport to keep my cholesterol down.

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Food Films, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi"

Food has been the subject of many films, easily becoming a genre onto itself. From grand documentaries to humble narratives, the subject of food has been explored with infinite detail at the cinema. I know from personal experience that a film can make me laugh, cry, or even leave a theatre feeling the desperate craving for a piece of egg sushi. Food films can do more than just awaken our appetites though, as food is as complex a subject as humanity itself. Filmakers take to food as a subject so often because the craft and intricacy of food is something people take to as a defining passion. This past Memorial day, which also happened to be my birthday, I was treated to the screening of a documentary about a tenacious perfectionist and the food he toils over. David Gelb's new documentary film, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi“, adresses the maxim that the food that we eat and the care we put into making it, makes us who we are.  Continue reading

Seizing Control: A Bread Made By Hand is Worth Two from a Box

Featured in the May 2012 issue of Saveur is a neat piece on artisanal breads and the surging popularity of bread-making in America lately. William Alexander’s “American Bread” is a worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in the craft of baking delicious bread or the business of selling it.  The 18-page spread is pretty far-reaching, as it not only introduces some of today’s premier artisan bread bakers and shop owners from coast to coast, but also includes a variety of recipes, tutorials, and enticing photography. All of this is a great source of the necessary know-how, and maybe even some of the motivation, to get you in the kitchen to try your own hand at artisan-style bread baking.

Despite my shortcomings as a baker, I have picked up one bread-making secret, courtesy of a generous customer. Our Ozark Fried Chicken Seasoning makes a great addition to white bread. I use 1/2 tbsp for a one-pound loaf.

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Seasoning Snafus: Salts

Don't get salty about salt.

Reading online recently, I've noticed a lot of culinary blogs listing common kitchen mistakes, mishaps, and misunderstandings. One of my favorites is this growing list of over 40 of the most common kitchen errors at Cooking Light. It got me thinking about a number of the seasoning peccadillos that we hear from customers who come through the Spice House, and without a doubt are guilty of some ourselves from time to time. So what are some of these common seasoning snafus, and how can we avoid them?

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Cooking Restraint: Mushroom Pho, vegan edition

Everyone gets bored in the kitchen now and again, from a Michelin star chef to a teenager

Challenge yourself, you'll be surprised at what you come up with.

just looking for some different leftovers to microwave after school, we have all felt the touch of creative culinary stagnation. Cooking and eating the same things gets boring, but trying to come up with new things to cook can seem daunting, scary even. But it can be done, it just takes a little work and ironically, a little restraint.

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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

Hoosier Mama, we love your pies.

We are so lucky to have wonderful customers. In addition to our mainstream of home cooks, we also number a huge amount of chefs, caterers, bakeries and other food related companies among our clientele. It is a really good feeling when we see chefs in their checked pants browsing the shop,  they often just really like to hang around, absorb and smell and taste. This tells us we are doing something right. Yesterday Paula Haney, owner of Hoosier Mama Pie Shop even brought us a pie! A very delicious Dutch apple pie. Continue reading

The Most Delicious Season

Our Fall Display Table

Fall has always been my favorite season. There are so many wonderful things to appreciate about the fall. I love the colors of autumn, and the way falling leaves paint everything in a seasonal pallet. Fall is the season of corn mazes, hay rides, pumpkin patches and apple picking. My two favorite holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving, are in the fall (three if you count my birthday!). I even enjoy the crisp fall weather, and coming inside to warm up with some hot cider! But perhaps my favorite thing about fall is the food.

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