NEWSLETTER: Autumn 2007

March 01, 2007 posted in Newsletters

Lemongrass and Lemon Myrtle

Lemongrass is an ingredient which lends authenticity and fresh flavour to many of our favourite south-east Asian foods. In that case, why would we make a decision to delete lemongrass from our range at Herbie’s Spices? Well, it’s a sad fact that lemongrass just doesn’t dry very well. We originally had a dried lemongrass that was finely chopped pieces from the green part of the leaf, and when we discovered during a trip to India that we could access freeze-dried lemongrass, made from the creamy-coloured base of the stem, we were delighted to make the change. Sadly, our hopes of finding a better, more palatable product did not match the reality. We are happy with the flavours of our Thai and Green Curry mixes, however they had a less-than-pleasant residue of something which, although vaguely lemon-flavoured, resembled oaten chaff. At Herbie’s, our policy is always that we would rather be out of stock than carry an inferior product, so you’ll find that all remaining stock of lemongrass has been discarded.

We shall still be on the lookout for better quality lemongrass, and if we find any that we consider worthy of the Herbie’s brand, it will be back on our shelves and in our Asian blends again.

We are lucky to have an Australian native, lemon myrtle, which was unknown in Asia when the cuisines of that region were developing. Lemon myrtle has an intensely lemony flavour and fragrance, and by re-working our recipes for the Thai and Green Curry blends to allow lemon myrtle to do the job of lemongrass, we have vastly improved on the originals. The new blends are already in store, and we hope you will try them and enjoy the difference!

Pimenton

Paprika and smoked paprika are culinary stars, and many of the leading food magazines feature them in recipes. But readers are confused by this word pimenton that appears on the ingredient lists of the recipes. Pimenton is the Spanish word for powdered paprika, so we can assume that the food writer is using Spanish paprika rather than Hungarian paprika. What’s the difference? Hungarian paprika is the classic “sweet” powder that many would consider to be the default paprika if just one was to be found in your pantry. Spanish paprika, a deeper brick-red, has a slightly earthier flavour to give a robust, full-bodied boost to your food. Just be sure to notice whether the recipe calls for the pimenton to be smoked or not.

Herbs as Medicines

Items pop up in the media from time to time about the beneficial effects of spices on various physical conditions. Just as European herbalists have used herbs as medicine for centuries, so have the ayurvedic doctors of India treated a variety of conditions with spices. However, please remember that at Herbie’s, we deal in spices and herbs simply as culinary delights, and see your herbalist, naturopath or ayurvedic doctor if you want medical advice.

A Vanilla Bean as a Craving Killer?

The summer holiday time is often a wonderful period of relaxing with friends and family, enjoying delicious food, good wine and the occasional refreshing cold beer. Fish and chips on the beach … mmmm, yum! Sadly when the holidays end we very often find our clothes are a little tighter! For those who are now trying to lose the extra kilos, here’s a little tip. Keep a vanilla bean on hand. When you have a craving for chocolate and fattening goodies, have a sniff of the vanilla bean, and your craving will subside.

Spice Tour of India

Once again our year has begun with our Spice Tour to India, accompanying nineteen adventurous souls, our largest group to date. With all of us comfortably fitting into “baby boomer” status, it was a great, fun-loving group with a high degree of compatibility.

Highlights included making chapattis with volunteers at a huge Sikh temple in Delhi, visiting a beautiful organic, bio-dynamic spice farm outside Mysore run by the Hare Krishna sect, and mingling with the locals at a village food market on the road to Madurai. We collected recipes along the way as we travelled, and those will eventually make their way to our website.

Sadly we decided to scrap the Sri Lankan leg of the tour in the interests of safety, however we found the replacement itinerary to Mysore and Bangalore worked very well. We decided that Bangalore, with its highrise glass-fronted corporate buildings, is the Singapore of India as well as its Silicon Valley!

Mexican Kit

The fabulous variety of cuisines available within Australia is primarily thanks to our migrants, who brought their food styles and flavours with them, opening restaurants and writing cookbooks. As a general rule, no migrants means no awareness or drive to replicate a national cuisine. Mexican food is a good example of this. However, as a nation of inveterate travellers, Australians have slowly discovered Mexico even without a migrant base here. There is so much more to Mexican food than the Tex Mex found in supermarkets! New to our range of spice kits is our Mexican Kit, with recipes developed by people who know and love the country and its food.

Some Pricing Changes

Last year’s dramatic rise in the cost of fuel let to an almost-instantaneous increase in freight costs. Funny thing that as the fuel costs settled to a lower lever, the freight costs stayed the same! After absorbing the extra costs for the last six months, we have found it necessary to adjust some of our prices because of the higher cost to us. As with all price adjustments, you will find that while some have gone up, there are also a few that have fallen to follow market trends. Sadly, due to very severe growing conditions, saffron is now is short supply, and the new season’s crop is being offered at a price 45% higher than last year’s. So a tip for regular users – stock up now while the old stocks last.

Herbie’s has grown, and we now have an agent in the United States. This means that our American mail order customers may possibly find a range of our spices in their local deli, and they will be able to direct their mail orders to the US website to save on postage. Here’s the website: www.herbiesspicesUSA.com .We hope to be able to announce the opening of the first Herbie’s Spices store in Los Angeles very soon.

What’s New at Herbie’s?

Nothing right now, as we’ve been busy traveling! Check out the lovely new recipe on the back of our Guacamole spice mix.

Happy Spicing!

Herbie and Liz

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