NEWSLETTER: Autumn 2014


As the summer season draws to a close, we find ourselves contemplating
seasonal menus. Naturally, seasons dictate the fruits and vegetables
that appear on our tables, although worldwide trade of fresh produce
ensures that we no longer have to wait for spring to find asparagus, or for
summer to get our stone fruits. Looking beyond seasonal produce, we are
in the habit of eating salads and barbecues in the warmer months, and
curries, tagines and ragouts in the cooler part of the year. How different,
then, are we to the countries of origin of these dishes. The climate in
India ranges from the sticky, 98% humidity, dripping heat of the south to
the searing, dry, parched heat of the northern summers, and yet
deliciously-spiced curries are the order of the day all year round. Imagine
residents of the tropical South-East Asian countries waiting for a cool day
to enjoy a rending or amok curry!

Having said that, we are as accustomed to our habits as everyone else,
and we are looking forward to the slow-cooked comfort foods of autumn
and winter.

If you’re waiting for us to tell you that our prices are down, down and
staying that way, you’re going to be disappointed. The sad fact is that the
dollar has fallen, commodity prices continue to rise, and costs to
employers never seem to listen to the “down, down” slogan. So you will
find that, while most prices have remained stable, there are some spices
and blends which will now cost you a little more. We believe that you will
see the value is still there in the quality of the goods we source for you.
Whenever there are price changes, we need to look again at our popular
spice kits, to make sure that the value of spices in the kit add up as
closely as possible to the total price. In reviewing the contents of all the
kits, we have taken the opportunity to change where necessary in order to
return the price of the majority of kits from $37.50 to $35.00. It’s a
saving for you, as well as a little reviving revamp to the recipes in the
kits. As much as we all love our perennial favourites in the repertoire, it’s
good to take this opportunity to bring in some fresh flavours and ideas
while still staying within the theme of each individual spice kit.


The advent of Valentine’s Day inspired us to create another new spice kit,
Dinner for Two, which contains seven spices and blends and has three
menus: one for a picnic for two, one for a prepare-together dinner for
two, and one for a prepare-ahead dinner for two. We’re so happy with the
recipes in this kit, and the Chai Panna Cotta with Black Tea Granita is sure
to become one of our family’s regular treats. It’s in a passion-inspired red

Have you discovered our beautiful Aleppo Pepper flakes yet? Imagine a
small, medium-heat chilli flake that has been roasted so that it exudes a
sweet, rich aroma. We have been making a butter of Aleppo Pepper and
black lime powder (loomi) to enhance our jacket-roasted and baby
potatoes, and to dollop on grilled fish. It’s delicious!

What’s new at Herbie’s?

It’s been an exciting time for new discoveries,
and we’re delighted to bring you Dagar Phool, an exotic fungus also
known as Black Stone Flower, Dagarful, or Dagar da Phool, used in Indian
foods. Have you ever been to a restaurant and thought, “This tastes so
good, why can’t I achieve this flavour at home?” If so, you have probably
experienced dagar phool, cleverly incorporated into the chef’s spice
mixtures. Whilst, at this stage, we are not making any spice blends with
it, we are having great fun playing with this great flavour.

Some of you will remember when we had Lemon thyme in our range,
until the sad day when our farmer moved to the beach, to life a life in and
out of the surf. Happy days are here again, as we have found a new
supplier of this lovely, and so popular, herb. Australian-grown, too!

Selim pepper is another new one, and possibly the rarest spice we have
sourced for some time, it’s bound to please the pepper fans. It also goes
by the names; African pepper, Ethiopian pepper, Grains of Selim, Guinea
pepper, kimba pepper, negro pepper and Senegal pepper. This little pod,
about the same size as a long pepper, comes to us from Western Africa
and this pepper is generally used in the same way as black pepper,
Sichuan pepper or grains of paradise. Like Sichuan pepper, most of the
camphor-like, numbing, medicinal flavor is in the pod itself and the seeds
actually have very little flavor by comparison. For this reason the whole or
ground pod is most commonly added to cooking to get the most out of the
taste. Although Selim pepper tastes quite medicinal on its own, when
combined with rich, gamey or very fatty ingredients, it has the effect of
cutting the rich, cloying flavors of these foods.

As well as enjoying the flavours of your favourite spices added to
everyday meals, Have some fun experimenting with these new varieties
this autumn.

Happy Spicing! Herbie & Liz