If you've been following my recipes and cooking tips, you'll see links to several products - and online stores - that I've really come to rely on. Some, like Penzey's and The Spice House, I've done business with since the early days of online ordering! I've learned that I can trust the quality of their products. Plus, it can also be a case of supporting a wonderful small business, like Reno's own Salty-Savory-Sweet The Spice & Tea Shoppe.
You'll see some herb blends repeated between all three vendors. I think each are equally great, it's simply a matter of which vendor you happen to be ordering from - one might have more of what you happen to be looking for, making them the obvious choice on that occasion.
Of course, you 'can' buy versions of many of these in the grocery store. But, grocery store spices have been on a very long journey. They're not exactly 'fresh'. And, too often, they've been 'dumbed down' for the mass market. They lack authenticity, and the essential ingredients that make your culinary efforts all worthwhile. And, over the years, I've actually talked to the people who mix these herb and spice blends - they've educated me, and inspired me to try new flavors. The mass market brands can't do that. Finally, I think that the herbs and spices I buy from these three vendors are a better value. The products aren't being loaded up with supply-chain costs and middle-men.
If you find that you love authentic herbs and spices like I do, then take the time to store them properly. Don't have more in the spice rack than you can reasonably use in about a month. I keep the bulk containers in my freezer, ensuring a continually fresher product. Buying a giant container of any herb or spice at the warehouse club is false economy. Unless you're running a restaurant, you can't possibly use it before it's gone stale and lifeless. Herbs and spices have a much shorter lifespan that you might realize.
Left out on a countertop, or tucked into a cupboard above the hot oven or stove, they'll have a lifespan of a couple months. That's all it takes for those volatile compounds to deteriorate.
So, without further ado, let's start.
The Spice House
Lake Shore Drive Seasoning. This is my 'go to' seasoning for so much, and hits all the right notes for anything 'French' inspired with granulated Shallots and green peppercorns.
Fines Herbes blend is a must-have that epitomizes the flavors of the South of France.
Herbes De Provence blend evokes a warm summer day in Provence.
Parisian Shallot Salt-Free Herb blend brings a Parisian bistro vibe to your kitchen.
Summer Garden Salt-Free Herb blend is a favorite, and I order the largest bags x 2. It's my 'must have' for Ratatouille.
Bouquet Garni herb blend is another favorite. I buy it in the largest bag which I keep in the freezer and refill the jar in the spice rack.
Fines Herbes blend is another must-have.
Parisien Bonnes Herbes is a refined blend from the culinary capitol of the world.
Herbes De Provence is the classic blend with that soupçon of culinary Lavender.
Sweet Curry Powder should be your first curry powder. It's my 'go to' because it's got a great flavor profile with just enough 'heat'.
Salty-Savory-Sweet The Spice & Tea Shoppe
NOTE: Salty-Savory-Sweet offers an amazing selection of chilies, so, if you're a fan, you've gotta browse what they offer. Also, I buy much of my herbal tea components there for making my own Tisane blends.
Everything But Salt Blend is so essential in my kitchen now, that I keep it in a pepper grinder next to the cooktop.
Vadouvan French Masala Curry is another must-have when I'm after a French-inspired interpretation of Indian flavors. I particularly like what it does for baked winter squash.
Green New Mexico Hatch Chili is a valued part of my Latin section.
Pasilla Negro Chile Powder imparts magical qualities when paired with hearty dark leafy greens and corn chowder.
Spanish Saffron is that rare, hand-gathered spice that is like no other. It gives soups, sauces and even tea that amazing color and flavor that's so hard to describe.
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