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Keep it spicy Encinitas – at Savory Spice Shop

David Boylan

Steph Birn
Savory owner Steph Birn knows her spices.
Photo David Boylan

OK, I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical of the need for a spice-centric store in my life. My uneducated opinion was that I can get all the spices I need at the grocery store. That was until I walked through the doors at Savory and was overcome by a wave of aromas from the hundreds of large glass apothecary jars on the shelves lining the walls and the barrels filled with fragrant spices on seasoned wood floors. It's really a multi-sensory experience and one that anyone interested in enhancing their cooking should check out. Cooking is all about flavor and this place offers hundreds of ways to enhance flavor while expanding your culinary horizons. After spending some time with owner Steph Birn, who guided me through the shop, I will be making regular trips there and checking out their very fun sounding classes.

Steph is a spice expert so I thought it would make sense for her to offer some insights as to what’s going on at Savory.

LTP
What are the primary advantages a home cook has shopping at Savory for spices rather than the grocery store?

Steph
We have a much larger selection of products. We have over 400+ herbs and spices and 160 unique blends. We also offer the customer the opportunity to smell and taste the spices. It's a great way to get a sense of the flavor. My favorite part is we sell in small quantities, this allows the customer to try small amounts of spice, as little as 1/2oz or 1oz, before they commit to a bottle.

LTP
Are there actual differences in the spices you sell and what I might find at a grocery store?

Steph
The biggest difference is in the freshness. We order our spices in small weekly batches and everything is ground weekly to ensure maximum freshness. All of our spices are GMO and gluten free. We don't add any fillers to our products.

LTP
You have your spices merchandised in sections/categories, can you walk me through those and explain each one a bit?

Steph
As each customer enters the shop, an employee is there to greet them and introduce them to the shop. All of the spices are organized by category. There are 12 different spice sections: Seeds - We have your average seed like sesame, mustard, and poppy. And a few unusual seeds like Ajowan, annatto, charnushka, and fenugreek. Herbs - We have Lemon Verbena, marjoram, Gumbo File, Summer Savory, and my favorite ground rosemary. Chile - We have over 25 different chiles. Baking Spices - From allspice, and citrus peel to vanilla bean sugar, we have something for everyone. Try our spiced sugar in your coffee, our peppermint vanilla bean sugar in your cocoa, or our lavender vanilla bean sugar in your green tea. Extracts - We have over 25 different flavors of extract. It's a lot of fun baking up different recipes. Exotic - This is one of my favorite sections of the shop! We carry frankincense and myrrh gum, mahlab, galangal root, cubeb berries, and asafetida just to name a few. We love mixing up mocktails inspired by different ingredients. Salt - We love our salt section. We have smoked salt, truffle salt, fleur de sel, and a few different salt blends to jazz up your cooking. Pepper - We have lampong and green peppercorns which have an extra peppery kick. My faves are Szechwan, Mesquite and Apple wood, and Tasmanian peppercorns. Dips and Dressings - Mix these up with olive oil, vinegar, yogurt, mayo and/or citrus. Regional - The blends in this section are inspired by the different regions of the US which Savory is located. From Chicago to Napa and Oregon to Florida.

LTP
What are some of the more popular categories?

Steph
Curry is the most visited section of the shop. We have Asian, African, and Indian curries. We've kicked up our yellow curry and just released our Ghost Curry blend. It's scary hot! Chile Blends are crowd pleasers too, from Chimichurri to Mole this section is home to some of our most popular blends. Chicken and Seafood is great for the everyday cook looking to spice things up with some Jerk chicken or Cajun catfish. This is a fun section to play in to mix up your weekly menu.

LTP
You carry other products besides spices, what else can I find at Savory?

Steph
Yes! We carry spice ware such as pepper and salt mills, mortar and pestles, spice racks, books and gift sets.

LTP
There is also a local section?

Steph
We are thrilled to support other local businesses. All the products in this section are from businesses in and around San Diego County. We offer honey, herbal tea blends, salsa, pasta, olive oil and vinegar as well as hand carved spice ware and a local cookbook.

There you have it folks. Savory Spice Shop is worth a visit and be sure to check out their website for their full list of upcoming in-store demos and classes or just stop by their Lumberyard location at
937 South Coast Hwy 101, C-110 Encinitas. (760) 230-4801 www.savoryspiceshop.com/california/encinitas-the-lumberyard.html

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