Specialty spice store
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Owned by "one of Australia's foremost culinary herb and spice experts" Ian Hemphill, Herbies Spice's stocks a comprehensive myriad of exotic and hard-to-find spices, as well as locally sourced everyday spices. It's easy to understand why this store is highly sought after by foodies and chefs in Sydney.
"Tetsuya was in here on Friday. I was gushing!" the shop assistant laughed when I told her how much I loved the store.
I came here on a Sunday afternoon after a sunny stroll in Balmain. As soon as I walked in I was greeted by the most wonderful aroma of spices and herbs. By the window were tall sticks of cinnamon in vases (1m for $3.60 or 30cm for $1.20) and brightly packaged spice kits (including Asian, French Provincial and Moroccan, $30 each). The adjacent walls were literally covered with spices and herbs from around the world, from aniseed to cassia bark, grains of paradise (or melegueta pepper) to whole saffron. I was in spice heaven!
You can find almost any spice or dried herb you'll need (ground as well as in their original forms). Most useful for everyday cooking are the specialty mixed spices like the gucamole mix which I picked up (it was fantastic with nachos!). Can't find what you need? Talk to the knowledgeable staff about what to use in certain dishes and where to pick up additional ingredients for whatever culinary adventure you are on.
As you know, I'm cooking African food from the Food Safari cookbook this month. I was surprised to find that Herbie's stocked almost all of the spices and herbs I had trouble finding, including ajowan, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, berbere and cardamom pods. I was well chuffed.
For the kitchenware buffs, there are spice-related utensils through the Moroccan-inspired archway, including mortars and pestles and ginger graters. I personally loved the neat little Herbie's jars the spices come in. There are even empty jars for sale for you to extend your collection.
Herbie's Spices is open 7 days a week (Monday to Friday 10-5, Saturday 9-4 and Sunday 10-3) and is located on the Lilyfield end of Darling Street.
Telephone: 02 9555 6035