Baharat, also known as Lebanese Seven Spice or Advieh, has become one of the many ‘go-to’ spice blends along with Ras el Hanout and Chermoula. Herbie, always up to date or ahead with spice trends, was asked to contribute this article to Australian Gourmet Traveller in 1999. Yes, 24 years ago! This is the article: Legendary spice merchant and blender, Ian (Herbie) Hemphill, has
NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2018-19
Food safety … food security … everyone hears the term, but unless you’re in the industry, you don’t quite know what it means. So let us fill you in on just what is involved in keeping your herbs and spices the way you want them to be. Certification by HACCP is the first step. The letters stand for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, and means that risks are assessed and pre-empted before problems occur, using a paper trail that ensures that everything is accountable and traceable. Quarantine of allergens is a good example … we have a dedicated mixer in a separate area, used only for nut and sesame mixes such as Dukkah and Za’atar, and nut raw materials are kept in a separate quarantined area shut away from all our other herbs and spices. A total clean-down process follows immediately after packing any products that contain possible allergens.
Allergens such as gluten are measured in parts per million. If any trace is found, it must be declared (in other parts of the world, a small leeway is allowed). So if you can imagine three grains of wheat amongst one million coriander seeds, that’s enough to mean that our labeling must show that presence as “may contain traces of gluten”. This tiny amount can be due to wind-borne glutens when a field of wheat is nearby to a field of coriander.
We are constantly vigilant with our incoming goods, as we are in an industry that is older than the Bible, and full of tricksters and age-old adulteration practices that are only slowly reducing. Trusted suppliers send their goods with a certificate of analysis, but sometimes the more unusual spices come from very remote rural areas where this is not possible. Analysis of imported materials is an ongoing cost for us, in order to be sure that we are worthy of the trust you put in us.
What’s new at Herbie’s? We’ve been busy creating a truly magical Rose Harissa – if you love our original Harissa, you’ll find this one a little milder and more complex. Use it to make a sauce, or mix to a paste with oil and water and spread onto chicken before roasting or steaming.
Also new, by special request, is Bill’s Steak Rub, in honour of our Californian stockist, Bill Williamson (see more later). It’s his favourite combination of porcini powder, pepper, onion, garlic and paprika for the perfect barbecue result.
There are two new spice kits in time for your Christmas shopping … or shopping for yourself and your family. The Box of Ideas, as always, brings new and different products to you every season. This Summer we’re looking at classic favourites that are appropriate for Christmas … Turkey Stuffing Mix, Gunpowder, Quatre Epices Savoury, Apple Pie Spice, and Satay Spice Mix. You’ll have all your holiday catering solved, for the modest cost of $25.00 plus postage.
Also sparkling new is our blue Vegan Kit, full of delightful healthy recipes enhanced by our Yemini “Hawaij” Mix, Furikake Seasoning, Bread Maker’s Seed Mix, Barberries, Korma Curry Mix and Ras el Hanout Super. Recipes include Pea Hummus with Seeded Crackers, Super Noodle Salad, Hawaij Roasted Carrots and lots more delicious meals. You don’t have to be a committed vegan to love this kit in our $38.00 range – it’s all delicious!
We also have good news for gin makers … diced orris root. You can now make your own gin without the cloudiness of a powder. So when you draw that person-who-has-everything in your Kris Kringle, and you opt for our Ginspiration Kit, the diced orris root will be a star inclusion in the kit.
There have been cries of shock and horror when it’s discovered that things are not what they seem – the oregano adulterated with olive leaves some time ago, and more recently the honey that proved to be not quite all honey. Look at it this way … when supermarkets promise ever-cheaper prices, and consumers want to pay less and less, it’s a case of getting what you pay for. When a producer is forced to sell a product for less than it costs to produce, naturally, that producer will minimize the cost by adding a cheaper component, or go out of business, leaving a team of blameless workers out of work. The ball’s in the court of the consumers.
Over 21 years, a chap’s allowed to change his mind, right? Herbie has reviewed his Herbie’s Favourites kit, after over 15 years, to reflect his all-time favourites, in his favourite curry-coloured box, it’s now $38.00.
We recently paid a visit to our Californian stockist, Williamson Wines, in the pretty village of Healdsburg. It’s always refreshing to see a different take on the use of spices and blends … for instance, a marrying of horseradish and Shichimi Togarashi coating a thinly-sliced steak fillet. What a fantastic and unexpected use for a blend that we had always expected to see used mostly with seafood! Cajun spice mix used on chicken wings with mirin and sesame oil was another delightful surprise. These fresh looks at old favourites can remind us all to keep our minds open to new possibilities at all times.
Are you a Rozelle local? We’re going to be in Rozelle at The Essential Ingredient’s Christmas bash on 29th November, from 5.00 to 8.00pm. We’ll be showcasing our Ginspiration gin, and showing you some quick dip ideas for your entertaining season.
We wish you all the very best for your Christmas and holiday season.
Herbie and Liz