The first rule of Spice Club? Talk about Spice Club!
That’s the first thing I read when opening one of my envelopes containing three months of seasonings and recipes as a sample of the new Savory Spice Shop Spice Club.
What is Spice Club? It’s a monthly spice subscription service that delivers you a different handcrafted seasoning and an herb or spice with a recipe featuring the selected seasonings and spices. Found yourself in a recipe funk and don’t know what to make? Try out something new that was just delivered to your door. I like this idea!
Above is a photo of one month’s Spice Club delivery. It’s a bag of Southern Spain Pinchito Spice, which I’ve never tried but have always been curious about trying, and a bag of Crushed Aleppo Pepper, which I always keep in my pantry and welcome the refill. The recipe card is for Grilled Pinchitos with Yogurt Lime Dipping Sauce. One side of the card explains the spices, and the other has a recipe that can be made with beef, pork, lamb, chicken, or as a vegetarian fare.
We’re really looking forward to exploring these new spices, so stay tuned to see what we make here at home.
In the meantime, check it our for yourself on Savory Spice Shop’s Website. I think my holiday shopping just got a little easier this year!
We LOVE sourcing local ingredients, and are so excited to have reserved a turkey with Long Shadow Farm in Berthoud, CO. We had one last year and it was phenomenal! Serving a fresh bird that had never been frozen was an absolute highlight to the gorgeous meal Sean and I prepared for some clients and their family. We can’t wait to do it again!
There’s a very limited supply of birds, so reserve one now.
Over the past few years I have heard so many people tell me that if I wanted truly authentic Thai food I needed to go to Lotus of Siam– a James Beard award winning restaurant in a mini mall in Las Vegas. As someone fortunate enough to have spent a few months in Thailand in my early twenties, I’ve had a hard time enjoying Thai food here in the US ever since. So, 2015 was the year to go to Vegas and try it out.
And, like most things that have been overly hyped by your friends, it was a bit of a disappointment and I wouldn’t go back. Don’t get me wrong here. The food was good, the service was good, and we had a good dining experience. But, I had expected so much more. I was expecting it to be more of an “authentically authentic” Thailand-type-of-food than we experienced. They did, however, have an excellent wine list to accompany their cuisine.
Lotus of Siam frequently has a two+ hour wait to get in. We got there as soon as they opened to avoid their infamous line, which was definitely a good idea given the mini mall scenery and the dessert heat.
While Sean perused the wine list, I started perusing the very large menu. This is where I first got weary. The menu is long. There are so, so, so many options. It’s the type of menu that covers everything and often has the same dish in a slightly different iteration on the next page. That was my first red flag. Right away I thought of the classic Southeast Asian saying, “Same Same but Different.” Over there, it’s like a joke amongst backpackers going through so many neighboring Asian countries. Over here, it felt like I was in a nondescript Chinese restaurant with a menu item that aimed to please everybody. In Thailand, however, menus are brief. Lotus of Siam claims to be northern Thai. There’s no way acclaimed restaurants in northern Thailand offer such an eclectic menu. It just doesn’t happen.
We ordered some egg rolls, tempura veggies and shrimp, and a bottle of wine to start. The wine was excellent, the egg rolls were fine, and the tempura veggies and shrimp were very unimpressive. There was so much breading, so little flavor, and it’s really not a traditional Thai dish in the first place. Nor were the egg rolls. In hindsight, writing this, I wonder why we ordered them? We were hungry.
We ordered a cup of spicy veggie soup, which was good. We ordered a vegetarian mushroom dish, which was absolutely terrible, and we sent it back. It was a mound of cold mushrooms in the middle of a plater of raw sliced vegetables. They took it off of our bill, which was expected, but we were glad to confirm that upon receiving the bill. I enjoyed my catfish curry, but the highlight for me was the sticky rice I ordered in addition to the curry. It was almost identical to the Chiang Mai region’s sticky rice, minus the presentation.
In northern Thailand, sticky rice is served in dried bamboo grass. At Lotus of Siam, it’s in plastic inside a basket. Which brings me to my main point here- I’m not just trying to write something negative for the sake of complaining. I’m simply not convinced that Lotus of Siam is all that amazing. If and when you get yourself over to Thailand, you’ll say to yourself, “OMG this food is so amazing! I can’t believe how much better it is than the Thai food we eat in the US.” Stay there long enough and you try all kinds of cuisines from Bangkok, to Chiang Mai, Chaing Rai, Sukhothai, Kanchanaburi or Mae Hong Son. For Lotus of Siam to be such an acclaimed establishment seems ludicrous to me as eating there offers very little of a truly Thai dining experience.
August is here and Palisade Peaches are in their prime. Last year Chef Sean made some vanilla bean syrup for his canned peaches, and they were some of our FAVORITE jars to open in the winter. Looks like we’ve now started a yearly tradition.
These peaches are pretty easy to make. This post here isn’t the place to learn the basics of canning, so be sure to familiarize yourself with sterilizing jars, water baths, etc. if you’ve never canned before. I also don’t have ratios and proper measurements… it’s more of an idea for you home canners to try.
First, Sean made a vanilla bean syrup by boiling equal parts sugar and water with a couple vanilla beans that he sliced in half long-ways and scraped out the beautiful caviar-like black beads. He let this reduce and cool completely.
Next, the peaches were blanched, which means boiled for a few minutes and then plunged into an ice bath. This allows the skins to be easily removed.
When cool to the touch, he sliced them in half and removed the pits, stacked them in jars, covered them in syrup, and processed them in a water bath for 15-20 minutes. After removing the jars from the boiling water, set them somewhere and allow them to cool. You’ll hear the pop of the lids after a little while, letting you know they’re properly sealed. Store in a cool place until winter.
After a hot, sunny, Texas-summer-time bike ride on b-cycles, we gave up our quest for the BBQ joint we planned on visiting and ducked into the nearest restaurant we saw: Hillside Farmacy.
The Hillside Farmacy is a New American restaurant and specialty grocer housed in the old Hillside Drugstore building, and has been beautifully restored using the original pharmacy cabinetry. Walking inside feels like taking a step back in time, and can taste like that, too. The beverage menu features homemade fountain sodas, such as a traditional Brooklyn Egg Cream as well as punch, which you can order by the glass (1 cup) or bowl (20 cups). We opted for a couple glasses of this refreshing concoction of gin, bubbles, hibiscus syrup, and grapefruit juice.
A salad and sandwich sounded perfect to me, so I went for “the beets” with fennel, chévre vinaigrette, red onion, arugula, and radish.
Familiar flavors I’ve had many times, yet always one of my favorites. For my sandwich, I tries something a little more unique- the “Thank You.”
Roasted chicken, mozzarella, strawberry jam, sprouts, and aioli. I have one word: YUM.
Hillside Farmacy works with a number of local Austin farms, and sells a nice selection of hand crafted food items such as hot sauces, jams, and Texas rice. This sophisticated yet unpretentious eatery was a pleasant surprise.