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Spice world


The metro offers a tasty selection of shops specializing in spices.

Heide Brandes November 21st, 2012

The bottle of sweet-smoked Spanish paprika lures shoppers with its blood-red color, but it’s the heady scent of wood smoke that seals the deal.

It’s a bold spice — dangerously bold to those who have never had fresh, high-quality paprika. It’s not mild. It grabs the taste buds and stains everything a feisty orange.

Nothing is demure at Savory Spice Shop, 4400 N. Western. Shelves are filled with exotic tastes from exotic countries. Even the salt wall displays more varieties than most people have heard of — from black volcanic Hawaiian salt and pink crystal salt to salt that’s been smoked in Chardonnay barrels.

Able Blakley, owner of the Savory franchise store in Oklahoma City, fell in love with the world of spices while living in Boulder, Colo., where he was disappointed with the lack of good smoked meat. He asked a local butcher where to find a quality meat rub and was instructed to go to a spice-only store called Savory.

“My head kind of exploded,” Blakley said. “The smell hits you as soon as you walk in. You can taste every spice in the store. And they had a whole wall of barbecue rubs. I got goose bumps.”

From that point on, he was a regular.

In 2010, the Enid native moved back to Oklahoma to help his mother with their 1,500-acre farm after his father passed away.

In September, his Savory Spice Shop officially opened its doors. On that Sunday afternoon, taste adventurers packed the small store.

Blakley’s mother, Debra, works alongside her son and can tell you the history of the world through the multiple curry selections.


And everything nice
Savory is the new kid on the block among the metro’s seasoning shops.

Spices of India, 3647 N.W. 39th, has offered the dark and fragrant tastes of exotic spices to locals for more than 20 years.

“Most spices are for specialty dishes and hard to find anywhere else,” said owner Raj Patel.

Spices of India specializes in such seasonings as garam masala (a mix often used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes), as well as varieties of curry powder.

“You must look for quality and always buy fresh,” said Patel.

Moore had been home to Spice Alley, which specialized fresh vanilla beans, grains of paradise and the frighteningly strong Ghost Chilis and Scorpion Chilis. Owner Christopher Plemons had to close shop when he was sidelined by a broken leg, but he continues to deliver and ship fresh spices to foodies statewide.

“I’d see dishes on the Food Network I’d never seen before and want to try to make them, but I couldn’t find the spices,” said Plemons. “I’d have to order them from California and it would cost a ton. So I decided to start a business.”

Saffron is among the world’s most coveted spices, and Plemons carries the delicate treasure. He said many stores try to pass off “safflower” as saffron, but the true spice is the hand-picked stamen found inside the flower.

“I get all the spices whole, which can last two to five years. When you grind the spice, that’s why you see a shelf life of six months or so,” he said.

Plemons said he plans to reopen the shop at 113 S. Eastern soon. Meanwhile, flavor-seekers can visit spicealleyok.com.


 
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