Last month, Rachel of Boston Food Bloggers organized a tour of the Taza chocolate factory, followed by a trip to a few of her favorite spots in Somerville. I’m rarely in the area so I took up the opportunity to not only meet a few new blog friends but also check out some of Somerville’s hidden gems.
Christina’s spice & specialty food perfectly fit the bill.
The shop is small but is jam packed with spices, sauces, and… specialty foods (yeah, I’m original like that). The photo above depicts tables full of spices, alphabetically organized (!!). This makes it really easy to find that spice you’ve been looking all over for… and a few others you didn’t know you needed but could not walk out of the shop without having.
The shelves were full of other fun goods…
…like every kind of salt imaginable…
How cool are these long peppers?
I’ve heard a lot about preserved lemons lately. I will be definitely picking up a baggie next time!
Spices and herbs as far as the eye could see…
It was exciting and overwhelming. They had sumac – a spice I often see in my Please to the Table cookbook. I also picked up a few kinds of paprika (again, the book always calls for smoked, sweet or spicy and I just had the generic “paprika” from Whole Foods before). Then pretzel salt and fleur de sel caught my eye and of course I had to grab those (btw, everything is available in little baggies or in bottles. They also have empty bottles if you need them – pretty awesome!). And then it was time to cut myself off before too much damage could be done!
I’ve been using the paprikas ever since. I think sumac will first go into a traditional plov (I’ll blog over at Russian Bites when I make that). And pretzel salt of course had to be put to use over some pretzels. Actually better than pretzels – pretzel buns for pretzel sandwiches. Oh yes!!
I used Alton Brown’s recipe for pretzels but instead of twisting the dough into the traditional pretzel braids, divided it into ten 3.5-3.75oz balls.
With the help of instant yeast and my trusty KitchenAid mixerwith a hook attachment, this dough came together in about 5 minutes. 50 minutes later it doubled in size and was very easy to work with. As I said before, I divided it into 10 balls for large sandwich buns.
After a quick dip in a baking soda bath, an egg wash…
… and a sprinkling of salt, they were ready to bake!
Quick tip – don’t be shy with the salt. Your buns will further grow in the oven so the salt will spread out. I could have probably tripled the amount I used!
The whole thing came together so quickly, this little experiment for sure was the beginning of something beautiful. A pretzel filled beautiful life! I will no doubt will be making mini ones for sliders or any time a pretzel craving or an amazing-bun craving hits!
Fresh fig buratta, tomato, basil and dijon mustard sandwich = heaven on earth
Incredibly soft on the inside, chewy on the outside. These were out-of-this world amazing… and easy enough even for a weeknight project. Seriously!
Make them now. They will change your life. They changed mine!
Where do you go to for hard to find spices?
Ever made pretzels?
How should I use my fleur de sel?
Tell me, tell me, tell me!!