Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Flavour fast - Herbie's

I love taking my time in the kitchen and planning and cooking intricate meals for family and friends. Unless it 6:45 pm on a Tuesday evening and I can barely be bothered to defrost something in the microwave let alone cook a couple of courses. That's when I reach for my handy collection of Herbie's spice mixes.

I'm probably preaching to the converted here, Herbie (Ian Hemphill) has a been an active member of Sydney's foodie scene for around 30 years. I am a more recent convert having only made it to his store during trading hours for the first time last year but since then have made regular pilgrimages to Rozelle. I was a regular visitor to his very informative website before my first visit but it is nothing compared to the sensory experience you get at the store. It is well worth the trip over the Harbour Bridge.

The range of herbs and spices is impressive but it is the wall of spice mixes that gets me really excited. They make everything from Aussie Fish Seasoning to Za'atar. All the mixes come in dry form, the pouches have suggestions on how to use them and/or recipes. But just about all of them are fabulous just sprinkled on meat or fish and then BBQ'ed.

I have tried about 10 different mixes now but the real stand outs for a quick and easy dinner have to be the Cajun Spice Mix, Za'atar and the Balmain and Rozelle Spice.
The Cajun mix is pungent and spicy but still fresh tasting - chicken burns to a beautiful smoky crust when coated to make a perfect Blackened Chicken. Just make sure you open some windows - the smoke makes your eyes seriously water.
I have put the Za'atar on just about everything - meat, fish and vegetables and it's always good. My favourite way to use it is crusted on tuna steaks and lamb cutlets. It has a mild nutty flavour - probably from the sesame seeds with a hint of tang from the sumac.
The Balmain & Rozelle spice was designed to reflect the diverse influences that shape Australian cuisine. It has a strong lime smell and a surprising spicy bite. Very good on BBQ prawns.

Every time I go to Herbie's I come back with something interesting and very very tasty. The staff are very helpful and very happy to open endless sample jars so you can smell the different mixes. They also sell themed Spice Kits which make great presents.

Herbie's Spices
745 Darling Street
Rozelle, NSW, 2039
Ph: (02) 9555 6035

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