NEWSLETTER: Spring 2011
We were delighted and proud to receive the delicious. Magazine 2011 Produce Award for “Most Outstanding Providore” recently. It is largely thanks to our staff, for their dedication and attention to detail, that we were in a position to deserve this prestigious award.
Herbie’s has just had its fourteenth birthday. It really came home to us recently when a customer, who missed our very first Spice Appreciation Class because she went into labour, came in to the shop with the result of that evening … a strapping teenager towering over her! Many of you, seeing our products in many food stores around the country, may feel that we’ve changed from the little spice shop with the factory out the back that you fell in love with all those years ago. Let us assure you that although we’ve grown, we haven’t changed. Our spice grinder is still hand-fed, our spice blending machine is still a stainless-steel cement mixer, our packs are still hand-filled, and the labels are still applied by hand. We are proud to have many of the same staff who joined us when we established the Charmhaven spicery, although the size of our team of “girls” keeps growing to meet your demand. Whilst we have HACCP food safety accreditation, our main quality control is still Herbie’s eagle eye and discerning nose.
There is more to a good curry than heat alone, and overall flavour is very important. Nevertheless, customers in our shop are often interested to know the heat levels of our various curry mixes. So, for all of you, here they are in order of chilli bite:
- Vindaloo – 9 out of 10. Add more chilli if you really love it scorching.
- Sri Lankan Curry – 7 out of 10
- Rogan Josh – 6.5 out of 10
- Curry Mix – 6 out of 10
- Korma and Medium Madras Curry – 4 out of 10
- Yellow Curry – 3 out of 10
- Tandoori and Butter Chicken – 2 out of 10
- Mild Curry and Vegetable Curry – 0 out of 10.
By comparison, the non-Indian curries go from hottest to mildest in this order:
- Red Curry – 9 out of 10
- Thai Spice Mix, Green Curry,Malay Curry – 6 out of 10
- Masaman Curry and Rengang – 5 out of 10
We’re only talking about chilli component here. Fenugreek, pepper and ginger all add their own level of heat and “attitude” which is all part of the overall curry flavour. Mild Curry has the same ingredients as the Medium Curry, but the chilli component is replaced with paprika, so it has absolutely no heat but the same flavour characteristics. Even without chilli, a curry can still have a big satisfying curry taste.
How come costs of wages, petrol etc have gone up but Herbie’s Spices prices haven’t? Well, the Aussie dollar is strong, so the swings and roundabouts are nicely balanced … the saving on the cost of imported spices covers our extra costs of production, so you don’t have to dig any deeper when stocking up on your spices.
Winter cooking had us looking back to our European roots. We re-discovered two rather neglected items in our pantry, Herbs de Provence, and Bouquet Garni , and you’ll find the resulting delicious comfort foods now starring as back-of-label recipes.
“If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it” wrote Penny Knickerbocker in Saveur (US) magazine. What is it? This spice of angels is known as Fennel Pollen , and it is the new darling of the trendsetters. Golden in colour and tenderly anise-flavoured, it is now available from Herbie’s Spices in a three gram pack for $9.95. We have had fun playing with the pretty and delicately-flavoured spice, and have discovered fennel pollen sugar as a perfect finishing for sweet treats, as well as finding that it perfectly complements pork, chicken and fish as well as chocolate brownies and bread-and-butter pudding. Do something as simple as sprinkling a dusting over a chicken before roasting it. And Fennel Pollen makes a gorgeous garnish – try sprinkling a little over panna cotta before serving.
We have noted with delight a burgeoning interest in true Mexican food in our major cities. Too long subjected to average-quality Tex-Mex, we are now finding good, authentic Mexican restaurants appearing to satisfy both American expats and newcomers to the food of Mexico. Coincidentally, Herbie has also been exploring the possibilities of this cuisine, which we first experienced in 1996.
Just what is that Mexican ingredient, mole? Basically it is a paste, usually containing spices – guacamole is a well-known mole. Although many people associate mole with chocolate, Mole Poblano is one of the very few that contains chocolate, and is possibly one of the more famous moles for this reason. The inclusion of chocolate melted into a thick paste of cooked chipotle, mulato, ancho and pasilla chillies makes a truly delicious and surprisingly not-too-hot sauce for chicken. Anyone who has chosen to make the famous Mole Poblano from scratch knows how time-consuming it is for a busy cook. There is a basic mole recipe on the back of our Ancho Chilli pack, but now we’ve made it even easier for you with our Mole Poblano Spice Mix . You can put this delicious meal on the table 30 minutes after starting your cooking.
With a good vanilla powder finally available to us, we’ve also been playing with a blend of treats from the New World … vanilla, chocolate, chilli … along with sugar, cassia, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, rose petals, and organic strawberry powder. This sweet dust is perfect for sprinkling over those other New World discoveries dear to us all, coffee and hot chocolate. Keep a shaker of our sweet Spice Dust close by your home coffee machine - Montezuma would be jealous if he could see what he missed! Not just for your hot drinks, you can use this delicious blend in any sweet cooking, even on porridge or mashed bananas.
So add Mexican cuisine to your repertoire, with the help of our Three Amigos …
- Mexican Spice Blend – 30g for $3.90
- Mole Poblano Spice Mix – 30g for $5.50
- Spice Dust – 30g for $6.90 or 15g pocket/purse pack $3.90
Keep up the spices … they’re good for the soul!
Happy spicing, Herbie and Liz