Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Open Thread: Spices in the Air

Someone asked me the other day about Penzey's and good spice connections in Indianapolis. I like Penzey's but rarely shop there because, well, they're pricey and I tend to buy whole spices I need in small amounts, then grind my own. It's not hard with a dedicated spice grinder (also known as a $20 Krups coffee grinder.) But in talking to hard core home cooks, everyone has their own spice connection. (I once bought ras al hanout from Blessac at Amazon.com and it was a huge success.) I hear great things about the bulk spices at The Good Earth. Fresh Market's spices look OK -- although in large sizes. International markets can be good -- although sometimes the quality isn't top notch. So, what's your spice connection?


Greg said...


I don't buy spices on a regular basis, just enough to stock up for the next few months. So, I've liked The spice house in chicago.

Generally, this is a place I stock up on whenever I'm in town. (usually every 90 days, I get the Chicago itch).

RDKLEIN said...

I have to say, that Good Earth is a reliable spot- where you can buy small amounts to satisfy your latest culinary fascination. Not to mention that it feels good to support the enduring local business.

That said, I love Penzey's Shallot salt! So I have to go occasionally, and usually end up trying something new.

Littlered said...

I have to second the spice house in Chicago (especially for their half-sharp hungarian paprika!).

nolandda said...

I am also a Spice House devotee. They do a good volume so everything is always fresh. The staff is very knowledgeable, often they are culinary school students or the like.

As infrequently as one typically needs spices a run to Chicago isn't that much of a burden, or they will ship to you.

I agree with Littlered's recommendation for the half-sharp Hungarian paprika and must add my own recommendation for the Aleppo Pepper flakes. They are good in/on so many things, but particularly nice on pizza. Yum.

WYA! said...

If you're in the Fort Wayne area, the Great American Spice Co. has an outlet there. They've moved from Leesburg Rd. to N. Coliseum Blvd. since we've been there but the store was huge and had tons of interesting rice varieties and marinades. You can also order online:

CorrND said...

There's a Spice House just a couple blocks from my brother's place in Evanston. I didn't realize it was a chain! I just thought it was a cool neighborhood store. That place is amazing -- we've got some great chili powders from them.

Kirsten said...

Renee's already heard this from me, but I'm seconding rdklein - I love the Good Earth for spices almost as much as I love them for their bulk quinoa. I end up cooking with a lot of different spices, and I love that I can get a little bit (for a little cash - these are not overpriced spices). Big containers lead to tasteless and not-so-fresh flavor. And, since my husband used to work at the Good Earth, I know that those spices turn over quickly in the store.

An old roommate gave us a little jar of the Spice House's Vulcan Fire Salt - spicy, salty, perfect for making a ho-hum sauce delicious.

J. Silverheels Gray said...

When I lived near Broad Ripple, The Good Earth was my favorite place to buy spices. Spice buys took a little time, but that was OK because it gave me the opportunity to chat with Bob, Bob, Maribeth and some of the other Earthlings.

Now that I'm out in the ’burbs, I occasionally go to Good Earth but usually go to Penzey's. I think the store is practically devoid of personality (they’re moving to a less-convenient location, by the way), but I can shop quickly, their quality is good, their prices are reasonable — compared to grocery stores — and I like that it is a family business, even though the family is in Wisconsin. And I use my spices every day, so buying in bulk isn’t ultimately wasteful.