I fancy myself somewhat of a domestic goddess. Le Creuset pots make me giddy. I own a Microplane and use it frequently to zest freshness into new dishes inspired by the Food Network. I even attempt to grow herbs on the concrete foot wide protrusion my landlord calls a balcony. So, when I heard that a new spice store had opened in Santa Monica, I decided it was time to take things to a new level.
I first became intrigued with spices while visiting my husband’s aunt who makes her own flavored salt. And I thought Martha made me feel inadequate. She went on to show me her 50 or so stainless jars all perfectly aligned on their magnetic spice rack and how she would mix lavender or curry powder with sea salt to create a delicate finish to her meals. I wasn’t quite ready to make my own, but after a taste test, I decided she was right. Lavender salt did add a zing to my eggs benedict that table salt just couldn’t accomplish.
Recently, as if I willed it to come, Penzeys Spices arrived in Santa Monica. This nationwide spice store sells over 250 herbs, seasoning blends and spices from all over the world at very reasonable prices. As I stepped inside, the amazing aroma felt as warm as grandma’s kitchen and I suddenly felt myself in desperate need of Dried Shallots, Mexican Vanilla Beans and Maharajah Style Curry Powder. I actually stood pondering between the crème de la crème, Fleur De Sel Sea Salt or the next best thing, French Grey Sea Salt (what the heck, salt is nothing to skimp on, right?). From their glass spice containers—complete with a sifter fitment and uniform black top, to the “World’s Best Pepper”—Special Extra Bold Indian Black Pepper, Penzeys is for novice cooks (see Sandwich Sprinkle) and goumet chefs (see Cracked China Ginger). I’ve got a new candy store kids. Only this one is way spicier.
TIP: Penzeys Spices has many locations throughout the U.S. Check their website for local listings or order online. I was excited to see they do gift sets, perfect for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or any time of year.
Penzeys Spices. 1347 4th Street. Santa Monica, CA 90401. 800-741-7787
5 thoughts on “Salt & Spice and Everything Nice”
Another terrific find!! I hope you bought both salts. I have been looking everywhere for grey salt, and haven’t stumbled upon it yet. I’ll be googling Penzey’s within the hour! Hope all is well!!
Check out Trader Joe’s for sel gris (gray salt). It’s not marked as such, they’ve given it a more Amer’cin-friendly name of Course Salt. It is indeed French gray salt and comes in a tall cylindrical container. The best part is, because it’s from TJ’s, it isn’t très cher—about $4.50. Which is still expensive compared to what you can get it for at the super marchés in France.
I love Penzey’s! They have several varieties of the same spice (like Chinese cinnamon vs Mexican cinnamon). It’s really an education to walk through their store.
Here’s another place for salts. It’s a little store in Portland, Oregon—The Meadow—that also specializes in chocolate, wine, and flowers… of course. 😉 http://www.atthemeadow.com
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