NEWSLETTER: Winter 2007
- Tenth Birthday Celebrations
- Grains of Paradise
- Organic Certification
- Classes around Australia
- Saffron and Black Peppercorns
Tenth Birthday Celebrations
This winter sees us celebrating the tenth birthday of Herbie's Spices. In some ways it seems a lifetime ago that we opened the doors of our tiny Rozelle shopfront with little fanfare, unaware of the huge changes it would make to our lives. Yet in other ways, the decade has sped by, leaving us almost breathless with the excitement of it all. We are immensely grateful to all of you who have encouraged and supported us, especially in the early days when most of the world thought we were insane to put our all into nothing but good quality herbs, spices and blends. We are planning on celebrating our birthday in style with some new projects to make it exciting for us all.
A new label will soon be seen on your favourite Herbie’s products. We hope you’ll agree that it continues to reflect our basic belief that it is the contents, not the packaging, that is important, while allowing us to show that we have grown up just a little in the last decade. Packs will all carry a recipe on the back, along with nutritional information. Some of you will remember that when we first opened our door, labels were photocopied onto masters, and the “best before” date was hand-written on each pack!
Grains of Paradise
We have recently returned from the United States, where we met up with some spice-business colleagues. The big news in the spice scene over there is grains of paradise , having been discovered by chefs as a crusting for beef. We have always recommended keeping them in a pepper mill to crack them roughly before use, and it's good to see that a similar message is being given over there. Apparently scientists have discovered a component of grains of paradise that has remarkable anti-inflammatory properties, so we just have to hope that this doesn't start a global demand from medical sources that will put a strain on supply and push the price of this rare spice up. We sometimes grind grains of paradise over chopped strawberries, which results in a wonderfully fragrant and spicy dessert.
While in the States, we attended a food conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The highlight of that week was receiving a beautiful award for The Spice and Herb Bible as best reference/technical book. This book is the North American version of Spice Notes and Recipes - the text is exactly the same, apart from the spelling of some words, but this edition also carries full colour photographs of every herb and spice featured in the book. For copyright reasons, we are unable to sell The Spice and Herb Bible in Australia, however it's available from www.amazon.com should you be looking for a copy.
It seems that organic certification is sometimes only as good as the country it comes from, according to one of our suppliers. Whilst some countries such as Japan, Australia, United States and Europe have reputable and quite strict certification bodies, in developing countries such as China and India, this is not always the case. Whilst a manufacturer or re-packer in Australia may have perfectly valid organic certification, it is the validity at the source that is sometimes in question.
Classes around Australia
From time to time, we are asked to present classes away from our Sydney classroom, and people sometimes wail that, if only they’d known, they would have got themselves along. So here is some advance notice of some off-site classes coming up:
- 18th June – Adelaide – Spice Kitchen Indian Restaurant
Ph (08 8431 4288)
- 7th August – Wingham– Bent on Food
Ph (02) 6557 0727
- 17th August – Brisbane– State Library of Queensland ( A free lecture by Ian Hemphill "A Modern Spice Merchant's Voyage of Discovery"
Ph Cecillia or Kerry (07) 3343 6759
- 18th August - Brisbane- Executive Chef (Masterclass with Ian & Elizabeth Hemphill)
- 9th October – Brisbane – Black Pearl Epicure at Fortitude Valley
Ph (07) 3257 2144
- 20th October –Coonawarra – Pipers Restaurant class afternoon, degustation dinner evening
Ph (08) 8737 2229
- 17th November – Canberra – Cooking Co-ordinates at Belconnon
Ph (02) 6253 5133
Saffron and Black Peppercorns
We have sad news about the price of saffron – it has more than doubled for all three grades that we offer. There are varying reasons that we have been given by our suppliers, so you can take your pick, or maybe add all three together. Firstly, poor weather conditions have caused a huge reduction in the output of saffron farms, thereby forcing the price up because of scarcity. Secondly, some growers in Spain were disenchanted with low prices and have not bothered to put in a crop for this current harvest. And thirdly, the government in Iran has decreed that it will purchase all saffron crops from the growers and handle the saffron sales itself, vastly inflating the price at the same time. As Iran produces about 90% of the world’s saffron, any major price movement there is bound to reflect on saffron all over the world. We expect the price to be volatile for some time … we don’t know yet whether buyer resistance will force the Iranian government to reduce their prices, or whether this new high price will become the norm. We wish we had better news for you.
So for some happier news – the cost of Super Grade Black Peppercorns has come down, and you have yourselves to thank for it! Because of demand, we are now importing larger quantities of these stunning peppercorns, so the price to us is less per kilo than it was before. You can now treat yourselves to these, the very best of peppercorns, without feeling that you’re being extravagant.
Enjoy spicing up those delicious winter dinners and soups!
Herbie & Liz