herbs, spices, salt, and seeds

cheeseFor centuries, herbs and spices have provided flavor, medicine, and magic to countless populations. The difference between the two is primarily that herbs are drived from herbaceous plants and spices from roots, flowers, seeds, or bark. A few plants such as dill or coriander are used as both; the seeds as a spice and the leaves as herbs.

The traditional culinary use of herbs varies from place to place; each country and sometimes each region has its own preferred combinations. We tend to associate fennel seed with Italy, oregano with Greece, saffron with Spain, lavendar and thyme with France, and lemongrass with Asia.

Spices, more than any other commodity that comes to mind, are responsible for the opening up of shipping channels and trade between ancient civilizations. They also have opened up our palates to new and exciting flavors. While the original use of many spices was for the masking of spoiled food, present day chefs employ them in an unending variety of innovative and delightful ways.

We are especially proud of our more unique and artisan herbs and spices. We have liquorice powder from France, Chili threads from China, wild Tuscan fennel pollen, Chilean Goat's Horn chili pepper, wild Sicilian oregano still on the stem, Javanese Comet's Tail peppercorns, white Munthok wild harvested peppercorns from Bali, AOC Piment D'Esplette from the Basque country, and Middle Eastern Zahtar, a mixture of sesame seed, sumac, and thyme.

Even though not technically a spice but instead a mineral, we include salts on this page if for no other reason than to celebrate their acsension up the culinary ladder. From the classic Fleur de Sel of the Ile de Ré, to the full flavored Sicilian sale marino from Trapani, to seasoned Profumo del Chianti, and the lovely crispness of British Maldon flakes, salt has an unsurpassed flavor, texture, and quality that cannot be found elsewhere in the kitchen.