If you buy your herbs and spices at the grocery store, it's time to wake up! Better for less is a no brainer, right? How about OMFG better for A LOT less? Locally here, in Menlo Park, you can go by Penzeys. Do it. Check if there's a store near you: http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/penzeysstores.html?id=BMiSM8Tq They have herbs and spices in different sizes, as well in bulk. The latter means there's an open container of each that you can open and smell. When you do that, you will start putting things in your basket. Once you cook with these, you will never buy from a chain grocery store again.
In talking about Penzeys, a chef friend offered to take me to an Indian grocery store in the South Bay. Haven't done it yet. Sounds like the kind of place where a guide would be helpful. But, same deal. High-end authentic Indian spice blends for cheap. I can get the name if you ask.
Recently a couple wino friends 'liked' a new online store that a couple friends of theirs had just started. I snooped around and saw enough stuff I needed and enough that I wanted to try that I placed an order. I'm always on a quest for good coffee and am very picky, so I tried a couple. The Yemeni Mocha really hit all the notes. I use the dried mushroom melange in a chicken dish and WOW! Just so good. I was really happy with all the things I tried. So, a couple days ago I got my second shipment of goodies. Smelling the black truffle sea salt has me craving to try it on steak. The smoked alder sea salt calls for pork. I already used the chipotle chili powder to round out an heirloom tomato sauce. More coffees to try (and more Yemeni) and more mushrooms. Check 'em out: http://www.smallspecialtiesgourmet.com/shop/
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