Review: Penzeys Spices

by Cate on December 30, 2011

Penzeys Spices
I first discovered Penzeys Spices years ago, when I was a frequent visitor on Cooking Light’s bulletin boards. At the time, there wasn’t a retail location near us, so my exposure to the establishment was strictly through recommendations from my fellow bulletin board members and the mail catalog.

The times, they are a changing…

When we heard that we were finally getting a retail store close enough to visit, Patsy and I quickly planned a field trip. I mean, c’mon, pure spice heaven, how could we not?

This location is in downtown Summit. While there is plenty of on-street (free) parking, it’s a bustling downtown area, so good luck with that. A couple laps around the block, and you should be fine.

One of the reasons I don’t order from the catalog much anymore is I found it very overwhelming. They have a lot of their own spice mixtures, and, well, it’s hard to buy from paper speculation, you know? And then the basic things you know, like cinnamon, for example, they have a bajillion varieties. It’s enough to make your head spin.

Inside Penzeys
The layout is very open and clean, which makes it easy to browse the different areas without getting as overwhelmed as one might browsing their catalog. But that might be just my issue.

I strongly suggest going to visit their actual storefront if you’re lucky enough to have one in your neck of the woods. Getting to smell all their tester jars convinced me of a few “must needs,” and confirmed there were a few things that sounded good on paper, but did nothing for me once I smelled them. Except turn me off. ‘Twas quite a good exercise indeed.

Minced Garlic
One of my definite “must haves?” This minced garlic. It smells uh-mazing. And a bargain at under $2 a jar. I also grabbed almond extract, which I was out of, a small jar of parsley, and za’tar, which I love as a bread seasoning. Oh and crushed red pepper. Mine is like seriously ancient. All told, I got out for twelve bucks.

Peppercorns
The biggest plus to Penzeys? The spices don’t contain anything that shouldn’t be in there. No chemicals. No preservatives. Nothing unpronounceable. And that, my friends, is huge.

My Little Artist

They have a fun little nook for children to sit and color while you shop. Crayons, papers, and a place to display your finished art work. While my kids were more interested in wandering the shop and smelling all the herbs and spices, I love that Penzeys thought to put that special little spot there. That, and I’m sure it helps to cut down on little broken jars from kids playing with the spices.

Leaving My Mark

Art Wall
And even if you don’t have a Penzeys near you, consider signing up for their free catalog. They frequently include recipes in it, that are delicious. Those Melty Portobellos are one of my favorites from Penzeys, and they also have great coupons in the catalog.

If you go in the late Spring through Summer months, the Summit Farmer’s Market is walking distance to Penzeys, and a definite Sunday stop.  Also, if the munchies hit, be sure to stop in for a bite at the Summit Diner.  One of the old-fashioned silver diners, it was a favorite haunt years ago.  As we drove past, I realized that I have never taken the kids there.  A visit for another time…

Happy shopping!

I’ll be back tomorrow with an end-of-year wrap-up. Until then… xoxo

PS – Other tried and true recipes from Penzeys … Baked Cod, Italian Breaded Baked Fish (with a side of baby Nick!).

December 30, 2011 – Bonus Photo
Tech Time
Madeline and Payton sharing some after dinner tech time.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

beth December 30, 2011 at 11:59 pm

love penzeys. my first job was around the corner from the bank that penzey’s space is in. there are a ton of free municipal parking lots in summit too, as well as the on-street…summit is a great local shopping town.

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Joanne December 31, 2011 at 7:23 am

I’ve been meaning to get down to the Penzey’s in grand central station for, oh…my whole life. But of course it’s never happened. Yet. Gonna change that.

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Cathy December 31, 2011 at 10:06 am

Ohhhhhhhh – I’ve never heard of it – but am in need of peppercorns right now! Might be needing a trip there soon!

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carrie December 31, 2011 at 6:47 pm

I discovered them by accident in Chicago and have been hooked. I’m so thrilled there’s one within a decent driving distance of me here in Easton, PA. Woo hoo! And thanks for the info on the kids area, too–that is a major bonus and really thoughtful of Penzeys.

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Patrizia December 31, 2011 at 11:27 pm

I big puffy heart Penzey’s..been a faithful customer for years! I have yet to make it to Summit..I actually gave S&N’s teachers sets of these as their Christmas gift!

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Michele January 1, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Hi Cate! I work right by this Penzey’s and heard that it opened but haven’t had a chance to get there. I’m going to have to go now after reading your post!

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Patsy January 4, 2012 at 11:59 am

I see my little guy’s face peeking out behind Madeline! So glad we made it there last week! I used the Tamarind spice on our fish the other night… very nice and light. :)

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Anna January 5, 2012 at 7:38 pm

I too love Penzey’s. First found out about them from one of my coworkers at my first “real” job. The location was also their “processing plant”, so the fabulous aromas were everywhere. Still love them and use their spices almost exclusively.

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Carol Ann Rothman January 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I too am a lover of Penzey’s Spices. I also love the round cylinder jars with the metal top and wooden handle. I was told at the store that they are not for sale and was just wondering if they will be in the future. I would love to store my grey sea salt in one of them. CA

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