Last summer, I told Farmer Chuck — the king of everything delicious at our CSA Sunrise Farm — that the onions we'd been getting in our basket were...Read More
Field Trip: Savory Spice Shop
Obstinate. Loyal. Determined.
These are words often used to describe me, along with relentless, stubborn, and mouthy.
So when I make a plan or find something I like, I generally stick to it.
But these days, I’m trying to take a more experimental, experiential approach to life, so when I ran out of Penzeys Rogan Josh seasoning, I decided to visit a new local source for spices: Savory Spice Shop.
The Savory Spice Shop was started in Denver, Colorado, by Mike and Janet Johnson. They seem to be something like us: home cooks who like to feed the people they love. They opened their shop in 2004 and it’s grown to five locations in Colorado, six franchises in other states – including our own shop here in Austin – and online ordering, too. Their individual spices are ground fresh in small, weekly batches, and they have a wide assortment of handmade blends, extracts, and salts, too.
I felt a little like I was cheating on Penzeys, but I took the plunge and ended up with a big bag of new spice blends to fuel my kitchen experiments. For your reading pleasure, I give you…
Six Sweet Things About The Savory Spice Shop
Our Savory Spice Shop is located in a cute neighborhood that’s notorious for tough parking. I was delighted – DELIGHTED! – to find two reserved parking spaces in a lot behind the building and plenty of on-street parking on a side street. This makes stocking up on spices from the shop just as easy, but way more fun, than buying them at the regular grocery store.
Almost every spice in the place has a tester jar so I was able to sniff them… sprinkle a little in my palm for a taste… and THE BEST PART: drop the remainder on the hardwood floor. Really! The lovely women who greeted us at the door told us to do that because “it makes the shop smell nice.” And it really does. At Penzeys, you can sniff, but the Savory Spice Shop’s offering to taste, too, is genius.
Recipes and Wall Placards
Handy recipe cards are available throughout the store so cooks know just what to do with their new spices – and the site includes plenty of recipes, too. There are also handy placards on the wall to recommend the spice blends that work great with pork, beef, and more.
More is More
Unlike the options at the grocery store, Savory Spice Shop offers multiples of some key seasonings. Why have one type of vanilla bean when you can have four? Why limit yourself to regular yellow curry powder, when you can explore a wall of curries?!
|Perfect for homemade coconut milk ice cream.
|I really wanted to get a little of each, but I resisted.
|I need an excuse for pink salt.
From the second I walked in the door, I felt at home. I was greeted by Echo (on the right), who explained the whole taste-and-drop-on-the-floor concept… and throughout my browsing, all of the staff chimed into an ongoing conversation about the spices and the magic that could be done with them. We swapped cooking ideas about caraway seeds, and Karen, the owner (on the left), explained how to use preserved lemons in Moroccan food. It was a fantastic, friendly foodie experience.
|Karen and Echo put the love in the spices.
I'm currently trying to find additional room in my kitchen for...
Coconut Extract: To make the non-paleo, Cook’s Illustrated coconut layer cake I’m making myself for my birthday.
Ornate Onion Salt: To add to mayo for homemade French onion veggie dip.
Tikka Masala: To turn plain chicken into exotic Tikka Masala.
Rogan Josh: To compare and contrast with Penzeys; see below.*
Chimayo Chorizo Sausage Spice: To transform ground pork into paleo chorizo.
Berbere Ethiopian Style Seasoning: To give as a gift to my pal Stacey ’cause she loves Ethiopian food.
Organic Turkish Bay Leaves: To re-stock my bay leaf jar.
Mexican Mole: To turn boring chicken breasts into chicken mole. Olé!
South Fork Italian Sausage Spice: To compare and contrast to Penzeys.
Caraway Seeds: To turn cabbage into a taste vacation to Prague.
Oriental Hot Yellow Mustard Powder: To try in homemade mayo; see below.*
Horseradish Powder: To make horseradish “cream” for roast beef. This will be a big experiment. More news as I play around in the kitchen.
Wasabi Powder: To make wasabi mayo; see below.*
Pure Anise Extract: To make… I don’t know! I’m not sure what to do with this yet, but I love anise flavor.
So… what’s the verdict? How does the Savory Spice Shop compare to Penzeys?
The prices are about comparable – Savory Spice Shop is priced a bit lower. Both companies are owned by real people who care about cooking. Both retail shops I visited were staffed by friendly people eager to help me, and both experiences inspired me to try new recipes.
I’m so glad to be in a world that offers both!
*Let’s talk taste… the Savory Spice Shop Rogan Josh seasoning was rich, earthy, and very similar to Penzeys, although maybe just a tiny bit more peppery. In my opinion, the Savory Spice Shop has a slight edge: they’re both equally tasty… but the price at Savory Spice Shop is about $1 cheaper. I haven’t tried the Italian Sausage Seasoning yet, but I’ll give you a report when I do.
I used the Savory Spice Shop Wasabi Powder in some riceless sushi, and it was AWESOME. I blended about 1/4 teaspoon into 1 tablespoon of homemade mayo, then mixed that into a small can of salmon. I spread avocado on my nori, added slivered jicama, then spread the salmon salad on top and rolled it up. I mixed 1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder into 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos for a dipping sauce. Snack win!
Instead of regular powdered mustard, I tried the Oriental Hot Yellow Mustard in my homemade mayo, hoping it would have a zingy bite. It tasted… just like regular homemade mayo. I think to make a hot mayo, I need to add additional Oriental Hot Yellow Mustard to the finished mayo, like I did with the wasabi. I’ll keep you posted on future experiments because I think a dollop of Hot Oriental Mayo on top of paleo egg foo yung would be out-of-this-world good.