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Where to buy spices

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have a recommendation for buying spices online. I really enjoy cooking with them and cook a lot of Indian dishes, but I can't stand the insane prices for these little jars. Is there a place online that sells quality spices? Also, I am looking for a recommendation for buying kitchen utensils and random items for the kitchen...recommendations of good sites that sell good products and have good customer service?
post #2 of 13
There are numerous sources for spices on-line. Consensus seems to be, though, that Kalustyan's is the place to shop. You can find them at: www.kalustyans.com

Almost as popular (perhaps more so with local shoppers) is Adriana's Caravan. You'll find them at www.adrianascaravan.com.

Penzeys is another popular source. There's a chain of them, and might be one near you. If not, you can find them on-line at: www.penzeys.co

A couple of lesser known places, with incredible selections---especially of rare and hard-to-find spices are:

Chefshop.com (www.chefshop.com) and Savory Spice Shop (www.savoryspiceshop.com)

Hope this helps.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 13
That's a nice list, KY. Here's another source The Spice House that has both been mentioned on CT and that a couple of friends have recommended.

shel
post #4 of 13
There are a few places on line that seem to be good, but I've not purchased anything from them, and don't know anyone who has, so I can't honestly recommend them. However, if you have a Bed, Bath & Beyond near you, you might want to pay them a visit. They carry Calphalon, Cuisinart, All-Clad, and other cookware brands, and a variety of brands of kitchen utensils that are good quality. I've been very happy with my local BB&B. They can also be accessed on line http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/ . I'm happy with the products and service of the local Sur laTable, and they have an on-line store as well http://www.surlatable.com/, and carry some higher-end products. There have been some complaints about Williams-Sonoma, and I've not been happy with their prices.

Frankly, I don't like shopping on-line for expensive items. I'd much rather visit a store, see and handle the items, and make a purchase locally for a number of reasons. However, I recognize that may be difficult for some people depending on where they live.

Anyway, I'm sure you'll get lots of other recommendations. Oh, you may want to look into professional restaurant supply houses. Often you can get good merch at good prices at such places.

BDL has mentioned Vollrath Tribute http://www.vollrathco.com/catalog_browse.jsp?id=59ed as a good quality source for various cooking gear, and I've looked into their product line. I've ask BDL to explain why he likes them so much, but have not heard back from him yet. Based on what I've read on their site, and BDL's comments, Vollrath is another brand to consider.

Good luck.

scb
post #5 of 13
Penzey's works well for me.....the Tuscan spice mix is great....(yes, indeed a mix that really is top notch)
Prices are super and customer service is also topnotch.

Kitchen supplies, generic equipment....Target. Good quality, reasonable prices....wide variety of shtuff. NOT knives pre se, nor top line pans, but they have a huge assortment of everything else.

KY and Shel covered it well, just had an urge to throw in MTC.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 13
I like the Tribute because:
Nicely designed pan lips
Good weight
"Gator Grip" handles (see note)
Exterior finish (see note)
General appearance (see note)
Competitive (compared to other high-end tri-ply) retail pricing

I don't like the Tribute because:
Never discounted
Expensive
"Retail" is not a concept that comes easily

Vollrath Tribute Note: This is commercial cookware. It's ugly to start with, if you appreciate "commercial" you'll like the look. In any case, there's not a lot you can do to make it look worse. I'm not sure that it can be seriously scratched on the outside, but if one of your pieces did get a scratch it's not like it would matter. The interiors are as tough as nails. The "matching" pot lids are absurdly expensive but they've got gator grip on the handles too. You can handle everything without a towel.

My favorite skillets are "Matfer Bourgeat" carbon steel because I like the arch of the handle. I actually prefer the "French handle" for everything because it's comfortable (for me) wrapped in a towel. A lot of people think they're too thin, but I have big hands. Sometimes big like ox lets you be a little more gentle and maintain a higher level of security with stupid French handles. [Moo] Speaking of the French, I believe there are several Euro lines of multi-ply that are equivalent to the Tribute -- Sitram and Paderno among them maybe? But they're absurdly expensive and completely not worth it. I'd buy copper first.

Nonreactive skillets are a necessary evil. I own and use them under protest. Darn you vinegar. Darn you tomato. Darn you!

I've never seen a bad pan from Vollrath or Lincoln (Lincoln-Wearever). If you want pretty pans -- and I see no reason why you shouldn't -- stay with regular "residential" pan lines. There are lots of good choices. Similarly, if you want a good discount -- shop for the discount. I think many of us tend to take our cookware choices a little more seriously than they deserve. All-Clad, Gourmet Standard, Calphalon, Demeyere and a few more all GREAT (as long as you don't pay [shudder] retail. Whatever floats your boat. Really. IMO the sauce depends a lot more on the cook and the ingredients than the pan. The best pans can make life a little easier, a little more certain.

When it comes to hand tools like spatulas, cooking spoons, whisks, pay a lot of attention to the handles.

The best spatulas, bar none, are Dexters. I've got cheap, rosewood handled Chinese copies, and am happy. Fish spats have become popular in home kitchens -- nice to have one. A decent set includes a huge spat, a long, wide spat, a couple of medium spats, a small spat, a short pallette knife, a long offset pallette knife, a board knife, and a cake server. Cake servers (aka pie lifters) are triangular. They are not cake or pie knives you need a knife to cut.

Don't pay a lot for spoons, you don't need olive wood. Some spoons last forever, and some deteriorate quickly -- without rhyme or reason. Get handles that look thick enough. Spoons aren't jewelery. Dainty handles will hurt your hands.

There are five basic whisks
1. An itty bitty one for teeny weeny tasks like two eggs. A wire-wrpped handle is okay. Mine has a little Pillsbury Doughboy on top, which helps with my manhood issues a lot. Cost is bupkis. To my mind, a mascot is essential. This is not the whisk you use to make a cake or a hollandaise.

2. A thin wire, pear shaped whisk. Thin wire whisks, stir things which are not too stiff, incorporate things which go easily, and put a controlled amount of air into into stuff. Your basic all around whisk. You want a good handle. Don't skimp on this whisk.

3. A thin wire, balloon whisk. Same kind of wire as your everyday pear shaped whisk. Puts much air in. For egg whites, chantilly creams,that sort of thing. But not for hollandaise or mayonnaise. If you have to choose one thin wire whisk, this isn't it. Get the regular pear shaped.

4. Thick wire pear shaped whisk. Sometimes called a "French whisk," as opposed to what I'm not certain. I've also heard thin wire whisks called French whisks. This is the whisk you use to beat batters and sauces into submission. It will not put air or volume into a mix -- it's a bad choice for beating egg yolks to make a cake for instance. However, it's will cream the heck out of butter and creamcheese. It's the tool that beats a roux based sauce into shape. This is one of those "pro" tools that hasn't really made it into the home kitchen but is part of the "saucier's craft" (could I possibly be more pretentious?). If you ever get one, you'll wonder how you lived without it.

5. Flat whisks are good stirrers, but not much at getting air into stuff, or mixing stiff batters, or "enhanced incorporation" as the CIA cooks call it. You can get them with shapes that go into corners, too. They're the new "hot whisk," and all the girls and fellas want one. They're not essential cooking tools though. Nos. 2 and 4 are.

Invest in a good pepper grinder.

I shop wherever I see this stuff at BB&B, dollar stores, thrift shops, flea markets, brick and mortar restaurant supplies, online cookware suppliers, online restaurant supplies, and so on. I keep looking 'til I find something that looks good.

Just some thoughts,
BDL
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post #7 of 13
I use Penzey's except for some dried chili's that they don't carry. I tried American Spice and I wasn't impressed with their freshness.
post #8 of 13
Penzey's works for me too. I'm not sure if they do wholesale anymore but there's also a place in Atlanta I used for everything called Sydney's Spices.
Sidney's Spices, Atlanta, GA : Reviews and maps - Yahoo! Local
No web site but the link above has their number.
post #9 of 13
So, which is best for whisking:

eggs for omelets and scrambles;
vinaigrette;
mayonnaise?

scb
post #10 of 13

A few eggs in a small bowl? Toy whisk or fork. More eggs, bigger bowl? Thin wire, pear-shaped.
Small bowl, toy whisk. If you really want an emulsion use a large enough bowl for your thin wire, pear shaped. You want the handle because you need a lot of speed and a fair amount of whisking.
Thin wire, pear shaped, same reasons in no trump.

scb[/quote]
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post #11 of 13

A few eggs in a small bowl? Toy whisk or fork. More eggs, bigger bowl? Thin wire, pear-shaped.
Small bowl, toy whisk. If you really want an emulsion use a large enough bowl for your thin wire, pear shaped. You want the handle because you need a lot of speed and a fair amount of whisking.
Thin wire, pear shaped, same reasons in no trump.

BDL

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post #12 of 13

Another suggestion for quality spices and seasonings is Fort Worth's own Pendery's World of Chiles and Spices.  They also have an online catalog, so you can order from anywhere in the country.  They might be worth checking out.

post #13 of 13

Kalustyan's is great, although I've been there in person and not online. A great selection, and more than McCormick can shake a stick at. While they have great spice mixes, if you are going for long term I would always advise the whole spices.

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