I have a chemistry lab full of herbs, spices, vinegars and oils in my kitchen spice cabinet, but not green and pink peppercorns.
So, channeling my inner Sherlock Holmes, the search in Oklahoma City began. Where do cooks go for the more difficult-to-find, unusual seasonings?
“We have green and pink peppercorns right here,” said Able Blakely, owner of the Savory Spice Shop, 4400 N. Western Ave.
Well, that was easy. What’s not so easy is leaving the store with just one item; there are so many exotic herbs and spices to choose from.
Taster jars are placed throughout the store for samples. You can find a wide variety of chilis and different types of chocolate, hot chocolate and Mexican cocoa. There are seasoning blends for popcorn; a Thai curry; and classic shichimi togarashi, a Japanese spice blend of seven ingredients.
“The ghost pepper salt is one of our more mysterious blends,” Blakely said. “It has chocolate extract added to the ghost peppers."
The ghost pepper, also known as bhut jolokia, has its own lore; it was listed in the 2007 Guinness World Records as the world’s hottest chili pepper at the time. In India, the peppers are sometimes smeared on fences to keep wild elephants away from village houses — fortunately, not a problem here in Oklahoma.
Our truffle salt is very popular; it features Italian dried black truffles,” Blakely said.
The truffle salt has a deep, earthy mushroom flavor. It would go perfectly on eggs or pasta.
There are blends for dips and dressings, salts, seeds, empty spice jars and gift sets. Need a place to put all of your new purchases? Beautiful hand-crafted spice racks are on display, all asking to be taken home.
Next, bring your refined taste buds to Olive & Co., 7602 N. May Ave., for elegant oil and vinegar tastings. Owners Rane Peterson and Maggie Kite are experts on the nuances of oils and vinegars and treat them with the same reverence as fine wines.
You can sample a small taster shot of these smooth balsamic vinegars “neat” (like a liquor).
“There are two main olive harvests: a Northern Hemisphere harvest in the fall and a Southern Hemisphere spring harvest,” said Peterson, who is also one of 19 certified expert olive oil tasters and competition judges in the country.
“When seasoning food, you can do so much with simply just the right combination and amount of oil and vinegar,” Kite said.
Olive & Co. also carries seasoning blends.
I bought the maple pepper (maple sugar, sea salt and black pepper), and I tried it on salmon.
“You can sprinkle this on almost anything,” Kite said.
I agree; the combination of salt/ sweet/spicy flavor is a must-purchase. You can’t leave the store without it.
Just a note: store seasonings, oils and vinegars in dark-colored bottles in a cool, dark place.