“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want” – The Spice Girls (1997)
I made a very long overdue trip to Borough Market today and discovered the amazing Spice Mountain store. Yes, I know, it has probably been there for 56,000 years but I don’t make it across the river much these days. Anyway, this place is absolutely brilliant, it is open Tuesday to Saturday (so if you live or work nearby you can avoid the Saturday tourist scrum) and they have a website offering UK and international delivery too!
Spices have become an even greater part of our cooking recently as they help provide the interest and flavour that used to come from all that delicious animal fat and sugar. Spice Mountain’s selection is incredible – from the Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern classics through to the more exotic: wet tamarind (for your thai curries), annatto seed (Wahaca pork pibil anyone?) and Australian wattleseed (for all your, er, aboriginal cooking needs). I spied both spinach and beetroot powder, which would make great smoothie additions and they have tons of blends for easy curries and meat cooking, including more unusual ones like Ethiopian berbere (fantastic on grilled lamb). All that plus all the different pink, grey, smoked and flavoured salts you could ever wish for. All the ground spices and blends are prepared in London (just down the road from Borough Market) from whole spices.
The best bit? They sell all their spices in 40g pots (with lids so no resealing issues) which means they are more likely to get used over 4-5 months, before they lose all their pizzazz. OK, this is a similar size to most supermarket jars but if you are looking for the more exotic spices or blends you often have to buy in vast sizes from speciality grocers, and these pots are a more useful shape than normal spice jars for recycling for some other kitchen use later. Oh, and on a rough and ready comparison conducted on Ocado*, each of the spices I checked was cheaper at Spice Mountain per 10g than from Bart’s (which is what I usually buy).
On this trip I picked up some little pots of Iranian Lime Powder (for an Ottolenghi recipe, obviously), Syrian Baharat (for lamb kofte) and Japanese Togarashi chilli powder (for everything) and, for no reason other than the fact they are SO DAMN PRETTY, the dried blue cornflowers below. I could pretend that I am going to decorate salads and cheeseboards with them like some cold-climate Donna Hay, but I am pretty sure they are all going to find their way into ice cubes for my gin and tonics this summer.
http://www.spicemountain.co.uk (but if you live near Borough Market do go to the shop as the staff are incredible knowledgeable and helpful and you can taste before you buy).
- A very rough and ready exercise – I checked 4 spices (star anise, fennel seed, turmeric and sumac) and each were cheaper per 10g. I will not pretend that I believe this to have any true statistical relevance but at least you know your fennel seeds will be cheaper.