What is single origin? We see it emblazoned on tea, coffee, spices and other foodstuffs. It’s pretty simple really. If all your potatoes have been grown in the Hunter Valley, they are single origin from that region – they don’t all have to come from the same farm. If, say, a coffee blender buys beans from Africa and South America, and mixes them all together before roasting and grinding, then that coffee will not be single origin. So all of the different peppercorns in our range – Telicherry from Southern India, Kampot from Cambodia, Super Grade from Southern India, Australian from Queensland – could be said to be single origin. We don’t bother to tell you that on the label, because it’s self-evident, really. Same goes for our saffron from Kashmir, and saffron from Iran … single origin, obviously.
“Hand selected” is another of those buzz-phrases popping up on lots of labels. Every pack of Herbie’s product is packed by hand, so again, it’s pretty self-evident that it’s hand-selected, if that’s important to you. When it comes to actually selecting the spices that we pack for you, it’s not so much the hand that does the selecting, but the eye, the nose, and the palate of an expert that are employed to help us decide what is good enough quality for us.
We recently spent a few days in Vienna and Salzburg, enjoying centuries’ worth of amazing music and culture, glorious spring weather, and – er – predictable and old-fashioned food. There’s nothing wrong with a Wiener Schnitzel once in a while, and the occasional strudel is not too bad either. But it did make us wonder, are we in Australia addicted to novelty? We clamour for new, new, new. New ways with Indian food, new-yet-ancient grains, new ways to eat gluten-free and carb-free, explorations of food that is familiar in other countries but new in our own. After consideration, We’ve concluded that we’re the clever ones, keeping food vibrant and interesting, keeping ourselves intrigued with endless possibilities. That’s where Herbie’s Spices come in, bringing you the spice flavours from across the globe so that the foods of the world appear in brilliant authenticity in your kitchen. And it does make sense, considering that most of us don’t do the physical work of previous generations, to look for lighter, healthier options to help us through our screen-obsessed lives.
Having said all that, it does rather turn one’s mind in the reverse direction as well, to consider the classics of our grandparents, our early migrants, our iconic cooking heroes such as Margaret Fulton, Rosemary Hemphill, Robert Carrier and their contemporaries. When did you last have a delicious, satisfying Boeuf Bourguignon, a rich lamb casserole or curry? Surely our world is big enough for the old as well as the new.
We’ve addressed this in our Winter Box of Ideas, bringing you ideas for one-pot wonders – some for now, some to freeze for another time. This seasonal collection, in its frosty white box, contains Persian and Mexican blends, Korma curry mix, Ancho chillies and Bouquet Garni, to take your taste buds on a trip around the world, for the small round-the-world ticket price of just $25.00 plus postage.
Do you still have that spare pack of Hot Cross Buns in your freezer, well after the children have eaten their fill? We can’t recommend highly enough the recipe for Easter Bread Pudding that Kate created for us as an innovative way of using your excess buns. Just go to our website recipe section … what a treat on a chilly night!
Have you read Herbie’s interesting blog on Ras el Hanout on our website? This special Moroccan spice blend is popping up on all sorts of menus all around the world, and it seems from our experience, that many versions are rather disappointing. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to a recipe for this blend, so it’s to be expected that there will be variations, but the name Ras el Hanout means “top of the shop”, and as such it must be the very best that the spice blender can offer. The best end result can only come from the best ingredients. No matter what care and time is invested in making it, and no matter whose recipe you use, with inferior base ingredients, the finished product will disappoint.
What’s new at Herbie’s? For lovers of Japanese flavours, we have a new Katsu curry, mild and aromatic. Usually served as a sauce over panko-crumbed chicken pieces, it’s just the ticket for introducing your little ones to curry flavours, as it is sweet and delicious. Just follow the recipe on the back of the pack. You’re going to love it!
We’ve also added Black Garlic, made when garlic bulbs undergo a form of fermentation under strictly controlled conditions, including temperature, humidity and time. The result is that the inside of the bulb changes to a soft, black, sweet, aromatic umami-like taste. After peeling the skin from the bulb, the Black Garlic can be finely sliced or mashed. Serve with cheese like quince paste. Use in risotto and as a substitute for truffles.
For chilli lovers, we now have Yellow Crushed Chillies. These hot, hand crushed yellow chillies from the Himalayas are popular with cooks from the northern parts of India. The bright yellow colour, sweet aroma and intense heat makes it a must use addition to when a new chilli experience is desired.
We have thoroughly enjoyed getting back into the spice tour routine, with our sojourn to northern India and Ladakh all set to go in September. Recently, we have been offered an opportunity to visit one of the world’s largest wholesale chilli markets. Consequently, we have put together a 19-day tour early next year, which takes in: the above-mentioned chilli market; visits to several spice farms in Andra Pradesh state; ancient historic ruins; one of India’s largest Hindu temples; the French-influenced city of Pondicherry; and the beautiful Alleppey waterways and the historic, vibrant city of Cochin. There are a few places left before we reach our limit of 20 travellers, so if you’re looking for a new experience next January/February, let us know and we can send you details.
Happy Spicing, Herbie and Liz