NEWSLETTER: Summer 2012/2013

December 01, 2012 posted in Newsletters


As this newsletter reaches you, we are visiting the Spice Islands aboard a 12- cabin ketch, exploring the islands that have been at the heart of the spice trade between Europe and the East since 1522.

On the tiny Indonesian island of Ternate, native home to nutmeg and cloves, the sultan gave a plot of land to the Portuguese in 1522. For the next quarter of a century, Spain and Portugal squabbled over this island and its neighbour, Tidore, with much pillage, torture and rape, before Francis Xavier (later Saint Francis Xavier) of Spain caused such havoc that it finally resulted in both the Spanish and Portuguese being forced to leave.

After a short respite from foreign interference, the tiny islands found Francis Drake on their doorsteps, with British interests keen to cultivate the friendship of the local sultan. This trading partnership thrived until the British were scuttled by their supposed allies in the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch then controlled the clove and nutmeg trade until 1810, when the governor of Isle de France (now Mauritius) smuggled clove seedlings out of the country and opened the way for other places such as Zanzibar and Mauritius to enter to spice trade. That governor’s name was Pierre Poivre … the original Peter Piper, who didn’t actually pick a peck of pickled peppers, but risked his life to steal the clove monopoly from the Dutch. It’s all worthy of a swashbuckling movie!

Indonesia is still the world’s largest producer of cloves, and the world’s biggest importer as well, as huge amounts of ground cloves go up in smoke in over 100 million kretek cigarettes a day. If you’re filled with envy that we are delighting in sea, sun and lovely unspoiled tropical islands, partaking of freshly-caught seafood, you can check out the tour on the website and look for the vessel Ombak Putih. Tours run at various times of the year, excluding cyclone season.

Not content with our Spice Islands adventure, we’re off again in January for our last ever Spice Discovery Tour to India. We always look forward to being back in India, and although this is the final tour that we will lead, we fully intend to continue our visits in a private capacity. If you are kicking yourself that you have missed out on coming to India with us, don’t worry, we will be happy to point you in the right direction as you plan your own visit to this amazing continent.

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

As we mentioned in a previous newsletter, we are pleased to know that our high-barrier laminate bags, whilst not as environmentally friendly as a twist of recycled newspaper, tread more lightly upon the earth than glass jars. In order to reduce our carbon footprint further, we have just had solar panels installed on our factory roof, which means that up to 80% of the power we consume will be generated on site. In spite of the financial pain of the investment, it’s a good feeling.

New Spice Kits

Hoorah! Our new Spice Kits are up and running! We love the fresh new look, the lighter weight, the revised recipes, and the abundance of packs in each kit. The revision of contents, usually undertaken about twice a year, has not only given us the opportunity to make sure the value for price is correct, but also to add some of our fabulous new products such as Amok Cambodian curry and Lentil and Dhal Spice to the appropriate kits. The new kid on the block is the fantastic Chocolate Indulgence kit, which will delight the chocoholics with spicy versions of the old favourites such as truffles, cookies, ice cream, brownies and rocky road, Yum! Remember, you can order kits for Christmas by phone, fax, email or from the website.

Grinding Our Own Spices

Over the past several months, we have been grinding more and more of our own spices , and you will notice the difference. Cardamom seeds have been ground in-house for a long time, and we know you love the result, but notice also the difference in long pepper, fenugreek seed, star anise, galangal. Speaking of long pepper, it has been suggested that “long is the new black” – an interesting proposition for those who love their pepper and are keen to explore a range of aroma and flavour.

What’s New at Herbie’s?

Vadouvan Curry Mix

How we love it when our customers ask us for something new! In response to a chat we had recently over the counter of our shop, we have developed a lovely new Vadouvan Curry Mix. If the name sounds French to you, you’re on the right track – the French who colonized the Pondicherry area of eastern India took a liking to the local flavours and made this version their own. A larger-than-usual leaning towards dried onion and garlic, and the freshness of curry leaves, makes this blend mild and a little sweet … almost reminiscent of a Japanese-style curry. In order to get the right quality of mildness for the Vadouvan, we have used Madras turmeric instead of the richer Alleppey turmeric that we usually prefer for curries. You will find Vadouvan Curry in a 40 gram pack, and the price is $4.90.

Creole Spice

Also new for summer is our fabulous Creole Spice. For a full flavour punch, this is a winner! Dust it on chicken and make it a barbecue staple – leave the skin on to get maximum effect. Try it on a swordfish steak, or on red meat it does great things on a roast, and we’re thinking it might be the spice mix for the Christmas turkey this year. A 40 gram pack retails for $ 4.20.

Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Spicing!

Herbie and Liz

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