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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
I’ll be back tomorrow with an end-of-year wrap-up. Until then… xoxoCooking Light bulletin board, Penzeys Spices