I’d add Oaktown Spice too.
Local to AVL. They make blends for local restaurants. I plan to get some.
They have an interesting variety of spices and sample jars so you can smell many of them, and the person who was working the day I visited was quite helpful. I wouldn’t make a long trip just to visit Curio, but if you’re in the area, I think it’s definitely worth stopping by.
Thank you. Exactly the thoughtful input I was hoping for!
I’ve been thinking about how to frame my thoughts on this, because they’re complicated.
On the one hand, of course it’s positive that farmers get more of the pie, and have incentives that encourage change and growth. (For eg the indian govt recently banned export of onions bec middlemen were manipulating the market - both squeezing farmers and jacking up prices for consumers).
On the other hand, the way these new businesses price the product will never be accessible to the main users of the product. I’m thinking quinoa and Peru, thought I know that’s not exactly comparable.
So it’s nice as a boutique product for occasional users, but I wonder about the impact to the “normal” user. For eg, I can’t afford to buy my usual stock of spices from these outlets - I use “too much.”
I agree some of these spice shops and sourced spices can appear pricey. I find that true of local shops with similar to inferior dry goods locally more and more. I can buy cardamom in a grocery shelf locally, online and in a spice shop. Each will differ in freshness, price and flavor. I like having the choices. I also like supporting small and large shop owners that go the extensive mile to offer me choice. I enjoy learning about the product. So, at this point in my food edu, I’m trying to make sound buying decisions based on what my food prep needs are; where the quality and value are. A lousy cardamom pod can ruin a dish…or elevate it.
The paprika I purchased above is superior to anything I have used so far. The texture is amazing on deviled eggs and my roasted chicken was delicious sprinkled with it. The price was not expensive at all and I’m so glad I took a chance on it.
In the case of Burlap & B, this mid sized enterprise took a gamble and is trying to help growers earn a living by attracting a wider customer base by using social media and print advertising/stories to offer Info, quality, choice and value. Without the investment in these growers I may never experience these spices this easily. A good deal of work goes into this operation as I’m sure you know is reflected in the cost, which I consider worthwhile.
My sister worked for a tea importer years ago. This entailed ordering tea from Sri Lanka, running taste tests and trading the commodity to all the major brands you find on a grocery shelf. She never drinks it -sawdust. I see a similarity in the spice trade.
The thyme bloomed In a batch of soup incredibly well. Super fresh.
We have the Burlap & Barrel Wild Mountain Cumin (whole seeds)–it’s really fragrant, and even better than Penzey’s cumin seeds which is usually my go-to.
We gifted some to family in the Midwest. Included an article referencing Oprah’s gift recommendations list, but they seemed only politely excited. Hah.
A block away is Pemberton Farms which has Kinneally (sp?) meats (purveyed by the late and much lamented John Dewars) as well as Faroe Islands salmon from Captain Marden’s Seafood and all kinds of other yumminess. Not far at all is Qingdao Gardens where you can have fabulous dumplings. Good neighborhood in other words.
Echoing Saregama’s comments, the thing is, I buy most spices at various"ethnic" markets where, to my taste anyway, they’re better quality (and not “better as in bigger”, and fresher, at a fraction of the price of “supermarket” spices. So these “boutique” prices are that much higher. And while I agree that at least in some cases “boutique” spices do have different/better/more nuanced flavor than what I can already get, in many cases, the sort of lyrical descriptions in the article (and sellers’ websites) are better examples of purple prose than accurate descriptions.
And as far as the fair trade aspect is concerned, to be blunt, I want to know who’s getting how much money out arrangements like this before I get all excited about supporting “the little guy” (unless I’m supposed to get excited about the “little guy” in Jackson Heights making a more than respectable income from his “groundbreaking new idea”, which, frankly, not so much… It’s great for farmers to get more reasonable prices for their products, but even if they’re being paid a “good price” relative to the cost of liviing in their countries, and granting that smaller scale operations don’t benefit from “economies of (large) scale”, experience has taught me not to accept at face value that that accounts for the enormous difference in retail prices like these…
Choice is a great thing.
Two new offerings from Burlap and Barrel.
Buffalo Ginger and Purple Stripe Garlic both from their partnership with Vietnamese farmers.
Have you tried them yet? Curious what you think.
Just ordered this week along with their coriander. I will report back.
Great stuff! I will definitely give them a try.
The oregano buds look amazing!
The oregano and coriander come Whole in a grinding barrel, the ground purple stripe garlic is mild and the ground buffalo ginger is super warm.
Just used the oregano on cherry tomatoes and mini mozz balls. So fresh.
I ordered the B&B cinnamon for my sister. Incredibly fresh.