Danger! Danger! Savory Spices ahead!

Ever seen a BIN of star anise?

I needed a particular spice for a recipe, and thought of two new Raleigh shops: Penzey’s and the Savory Spice Shop. I chose Savory Spice — even though I’d never heard of it like I have Penzey’s — because, well, they’re in my neck of the woods, good ol’ North Raleigh. Convenience wins out. (The store is in Lafayette Village — yes, the same location as Antonio’s Gourmet Market. Read the post about my visit to Antonio’s.)

I went to get brown mustard seeds. And what did I return home with? The mustard seeds, of course, plus: Herbes de Provence Seasoning Salt, Thai Green Curry, Mayan Cocoa, French Fleur de Sel and Italian Black Truffle Sea Salt. I won’t tell you how much I spent.

My oh my. The Savory Spice Shop is a dangerous place for people like me!

It’s a cozy space, with nice light and warm wooden shelving. One of the first things that hits you when you walk in is the aroma. Most of the hundreds of large spice jars have smaller tester bottles alongside. As co-owner Bob (wife Cindy is his partner) invited, open the tester lids to smell and/or shake a bit into your hand. Taste, and if you can’t finish what you poured, spill it onto the floor. Thus the shop’s lovely aromas.

The store has a veritable plethora of products. They’re arranged on shelving in groups like Chiles, Seeds, Herbs, Extracts, Baking, BBQ, etc. Many seeds and spices are available whole and ground. Everything’s very fresh, and the spices are ground weekly. You can purchase quantities as small as a half ounce up to the 10 ounces (and beyond) of the mustard seeds I sought.

In addition to straightforward single spices, blends are also available. For instance, my Herbes de Provence Seasoning Salt contains coarse sea salt, French thyme, savory, fennel, black pepper, rosemary, marjoram, basil, lavender and tarragon. The BBQ section is primarily blends — rubs and seasonings for all types of grillables.

Excellent descriptions and suggestions are on the jar’s labels, and are reprinted on a smaller version if you buy a small plastic bag of spice. Here’s an example — my Italian Black Truffle Sea Salt label reads: “This aromatic salt is a perfect mixture of pure fine sea salt and highly prized black truffles imported from Italy. Sprinkle over eggs, meats, pasta, potatoes, salads and other root vegetables. Flavor a compound butter or make exquisite tasting popcorn.”

I have to admit I paid a steep price for that truffled salt — but as soon as I took a whiff I knew I had to have some. (I’m a salt nut. Not just any salt, or salty foods, but good salt.)  The scent is so heady I can’t imagine what the taste will be like. I intend to sprinkle some on eggs for breakfast this weekend. And I’m consoling myself about the price with the fact that truffled salt seems like a very efficient way to imbue dishes with the prized fungus. (Actually I’m not the least bit sorry about the price — I know it’ll be worth it!)

The shop is peppered with original recipes featuring some of the spice blends, and the owners are partnering with local chefs to offer cooking classes. They’re wide open to all kinds of partnerships to build community, promote good spices and food and get the word out about their business.

Also on offer: gift packs, spice grinders and books.

I’ll leave you with a random, small smattering of some of Savory Spice’s (love that alliteration!) offerings to whet your appetite:

  • 14 types of salt
  • a wide variety of peppercorns — blends and singles, ground, cracked, whole
  • cracked galangal root
  • dried kaffir lime leaves
  • grains of paradise (?!)
  • lavender vanilla bean sugar
  • 4 types of vanilla bean
  • ginger and pistachio extracts


Off to try some of my cocoa in my nightly hot chocolate. (Cocoa, chile peppers, cinnamon and vanilla powder. Ummmmm…)

About atarheeltastes

I'm a passionate foodie who started this "temporary" blog during a gustatory tour of Tuscany. I decided to continue, since I love to dream about, plan for, prepare, eat and write about food!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Danger! Danger! Savory Spices ahead!

  1. Eric Willis says:

    What were you making with brown musterd seed.

  2. Cindy Jones says:

    Terry-it was great fun assisting you today, and both Bob and I are grateful for your blog about our “Cozy” shop. It is what we hoped our customers would recognize, and then as though they were receiving a big hug when entering. We are confident that when you actually use your Italian Black Truffle salt. the scent of Italy , and all it’s memories of Tuscany will envelop you and your palate will be yearning for more. Our customers are actually astonished that our prices are less than the supermarkets, and of course, fresh ground weekly as you said. Therefore there is no comparison on taste, smell and of course quality overall. We are also thankful for some of the tips you gave us and will certainly look into all of them. Foodies from all over have been visiting us, and we are so excited about their unmatched enthusiasm like yours. Thank you for visiting us today, and hope to see you again soon.

  3. Lianne says:

    Our mutual friend Beth pointed me towards your blog, which I’ve really enjoyed reading tonight. I really enjoyed this entry in particular– I’ve shopped Penzey’s via mail order for years but didn’t realize they now have a location in Raleigh. I definitely want to stop by there AND Savory Spice House the next time I’m up that way!

    P.S. I bought some Grains of Paradise a while back after I saw a Good Eats episode where Alton Brown used them in making filling for an apple pie… now all I need to do is actually make one.

    • Glad you enjoyed it Lianne.

      My mom has shopped Penzey’s for many years via mail order, too, and was thrilled to visit the Raleigh shop (we went last Sunday).

      I was intrigued by Grains of Paradise. I’ll have to read up on their purpose. Tell me how your future Alton-inspired pie turns out!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s