Saturday, September 19, 2009

Penzey's Spices

Have you ever been sitting there eating your grilled chicken breast with roasted new potatoes and thought to yourself "this tastes disgusting"? Or, put together a steaming pot of chili and it tasted like some sort of weird hamburger hash product? Better yet, my favorite, have you ever been reading a recipe book or magazine for inspiration and have all the ingredients with the exception of some weird spice that you would NEVER in a million years keep in your pantry for any reason other than that specific recipe?

Well, my friends, I have the answer for you. One step into Penzey's Spices and you will be a changed person. The smells that permeate throughout the store are reason enough to go. Located in the Heights, on 19th St., Penzey's Spices has everything a cook, unlike myself, could ever dream of and more. Even if you aren't a cook, like myself, it is a fantastic place to be. They have some of the best gifts there, and remember, spices can be used for satches', making soaps, bath scrubs, and a whole plethora of other neat little things.

So, I heard about Penzey's Spices from my friend Connie at my office. Every day she would talk about how she cooked something different and needed to hit up Penzey's because she was running out of a certain seasoning. For the longest time I thought Penzey was her friend who would just give her spices. Then I realized that others shopped there. Once it became clear to me that this was a store and I could shop at it and buy things, I knew it would be perfect for me. Therefore, I stopped by one day to pick up a gift for a friend.

I swear it was heaven. They have fantastic gift sets that range anywhere from $20-$250, some of which are packed in these awesome crates and have little sage leaves in between the spice bottles. They also have about a billion different shelves with extracts, little twigs, and plastic bags with different colored powders in them that I can only assume must be some type of total awesomeness. They also have a fab cookbook, amazing staff and a little creative corner for the kids to draw, etc. while you shop.

The coolest, is this list of specialty spices they carry. I can't even pronounce half of them, but feel like I need them. I'm certain they will spice up my infamous Hamburger Helper.

Specialty Spices list taken directly from Penzey's Spices website:
  • Ajwain Seed (aka Ajowan) from Pakistan, a traditional addition to many Indian and Pakistani dishes
  • Annato Seed a must for South American, Caribbean, Mexican, and Spanish cooking
  • Charnushka (aka Nigella Sativa) tiny, black, smoky flavored seeds found atop Jewish rye bread in New York
  • French Four Spice a salt-free seasoning, traditionally used for pork, beef and rabbit
  • Galangal close relative of ginger, has a flavor that is similar to ginger, but more flowery and intense
  • Kala Jeera prized by Indian and Pakistani cooks, it is used in small amounts due to its exotic flowery flavor
  • Mahlab the pit of a sour cherry, it is a sweet/sour, nutty addition to breads, cookies and biscuits
  • Sumac it has a flavor that is similar to that of lemon juice or vinegar, but is milder and less acidic
  • Zatar a traditional, popular blend of the Middle East

Here are a few pics of some of the gift sets that are available for purchase. These are taken directly from the Penzey's Spices website:

The "Two Hearts Gift Set"

The "Grill and Broil Set"

It is important to also note that Penzey's also sells cool little sandwich sprinklers, grilling spices, meat rubs, hot chocolate, salad dressing seasoning, just about anything a foodie needs. Go to Penzey's Spices today and you will thank me for it later.

Penzey's Spices
516 W 19th St.
Houston, TX 77008
(713) 862-6777


  1. I LOVE this place. I have been shopping their spices forever. The Ajwain is awesome, typically used in Pakistani lentil dishes. Its so good. I sprinkle a little sumac on my hummus, and zatar, oh so good. Great, its late and you made me hungry. Again. LOL.

  2. Yeah, girl. Sprinkle some ajwain seed in your hamburger helper and watch Robert swoon.

    This post is awesome - I didn't know this place existed but now that I do, I'll have to check it out. Thanks and love you!