I've barely come up for air this week and, alas, have no new recipe to post today. So, I thought I'd share my experience with Penzey's Spice company. How many times have you bought a bottle of herbs or spices at the supermarket? Have you ever wondered how long the bottle has sat on the store shelf? Or how about at the warehouse? Are you really getting what you paid for?
A while ago, Marble Man and I were invited to dinner at a friend's house, where she served a sumptuous meal. She finished up with an apple galette which was incredibly delicious. I was trying to figure out which spices she added to the apples, and got as far as cinnamon. When I asked her what else she added, she insisted it was only cinnamon, and then produced the bottle for me to sniff. Oh, the smell! Rich cinnamon with flowery overtones, and a hint of allspice. This was NOT your generic, McCormick's supermarket cinnamon. She told me that at Penzey's, they bottle the spices up fresh and ship them out, so you get a high-quality product.
She gave me an extra catalog, which I pored over at home. The catalog was very well organized and peppered throughout were recipes and ideas for how to use the products they offer. I proceeded to order spices the way I order beads: some of this, some of that, 4 of these, 2 of those... and before I knew it, I'd spent over $60! When the box arrived, the contents were very carefully wrapped. And when I opened the bottles, they were filled TO THE TOP.
I picked out 4 types of cinnamon, and yes they ARE all very different, as well as herbs and spice blends. The parsley smelled like it had just been picked and dried the week before. And the blends were perfect for use in meats and stews. I threw out a bunch of store-bought bottles from my cabinet that were absolutely dead.
I hope you'll give Penzey's a shot - even with the shipping cost, the prices were competitive with supermarket brands. I will never buy seasonings from the store again, unless I find myself in a desperate situation.