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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: Penzeys Spices

I could have used their actual logo to head this post, but since this little saying that Penzeys has on billboards, bumper stickers and the like, and since cooking is one way I really express my love (aside from comments dripping in sarcasm of course), I went with this one.

Penzeys Spices is an amazing little store. They've got over 250 herbs and spices and going in there for the first time last week with my friend Kendra was sort of like a junkie stepping inside their very first opium den. There are sections dedicated solely to pepper, to chiles, to cinnamon. Mixed herbs like the Parisien Bonnes Herbes, are heavenly. There is the Beef Roast blend which they recommend for not just roasts but steaks as well. It smells incredibly like a rich beef boullion but is sodium free, so I see a new, saltless beef stock provider in my future.

The spices are insanely reasonable as well, considering you can get musty dusty generic spices at any grocery store for about $3 - $5. Lo, that's the average price range at Penzeys, except the quality is through the roof. I was nearly intoxicated by the heady perfume of the cumin jar, and OH YES, they have big sample jars so you can get a whiff. They had jars of diced, dried green bell pepper whose concentrated aroma nearly knocked me off my flip flops. I didn't dare get involved in smelling any of the chile powders but I was sorely tempted.

Those sample jars come in handy, too, because some of the blends are ones you've, or at least I've, never heard of. The Florida herb blend sounded good but the smell wasn't for me. I would have been tempted to give it a try otherwise, so I appreciated Penzeys frank and honest way of doing business.

And let's not even talk about how CUTE the jars are. Oh hell, let's do it!

If I knew how I'd frame that picture with a whimsical water-colored border consisting of mountain meadow flowers and blue birds, those little guys are that adorable. That smaller size usually runs around $3.50 if memory serves, and these larger ones are about $6 or so:

That is a gift set, by the way, in case anyone wants to buy me one.

One thing I'm looking forward to trying is the Raspberry Enlightenment which, so far as I am concerned, is sort of undefinable. It's a jar of what looks like raspberry preserves, but since the instructions recommend using it on white meats, pastas and as a vinaigrette, I'm sure it's more than that. Friday's menu will be grilled chicken with Raspberry Enlightenment and broccoli fritters (HEY-OHHH) so I will definitely report back on how the chicken turns out.

I can't wait to run out of my crappy cumin and go back for the good stuff. I can't wait to run out of all my spices and, as Kendra is doing, slowly replace everying with Penzeys. Yes, it is that good. If you could only smell the toasted onion granules I got, or the crystallized ginger, you'd drool your way over there this very instant. There is a French herb blend I forgot to snag, one that has lavender, and it is so on my hit list.

Grade: A+++

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