Life is great when the freshest, highest quality option also happens to be one of the least expensive. Such is the case with Penzeys spices. Penzeys is a mail order spice company (www.penzeys.com) with a small number of stores throughout the country. The only store in the Los Angeles area is in Torrance. Their catalog is entertaining and has a folksy feel, with recipes and descriptions of where spices come from.
I can’t remember how I first discovered Penzeys spices, but I do remember that after smelling the cinnamon and vanilla, I vowed never to go back to supermarket spices. The spices are incredibly fresh and have a strong scent of what they are. In contrast, supermarket spices smell bland. Penzeys also offers dried herbs, and spice and herb blends. You can also order gift boxes, which are either pre-packaged or you can customize your own. The spices can be ordered in small or large jars, or in bags (which is why they can be much less expensive than supermarket spices). I order the spices and herbs that I use regularly in bags and refill my jars. (Note: a funnel is a useful tool for the refilling operation!)
Some of my favorite spices and herbs to order are chili powder (they offer three levels of heat), cinnamon, cinnamon-sugar blend (yes I know it’s so easy to make yourself, but how convenient it is to have it ready-made for cinnamon toast — plus they use two kinds of cinnamon blended with vanilla-sugar), cocoa powder, cumin, Italian herb mix, peppercorns, Sandwich Sprinkle (garlic, salt, a variety of herbs, and pepper — excellent for croutons and garlic bread!) and vanilla (I buy the double strength).
Speaking of which, I have an order to place…..