Without flavour, food is merely sustenance. Fine spices can transform any dish from boring to incredible – read on to learn more about our selection of fine spices.
Cuisine without the right seasonings is merely a meal. Yes, it will sustain you, but consuming it is little more than a mechanical action – there is no joy, no passion. In order to transform food from bland and dull to exciting and delectable, you need the right blend of seasonings. The finest spices can dramatically change the flavour and aroma of food, even the texture in some cases.
Spices have been used for thousands of years to enhance dishes around the world. Some have been so rare they were only available to royalty, while others have been so commonly used that they have given birth to axioms retained in our language to this day.
Before we dive into the world of luxury spices, it’s important to distinguish them from herbs. How are they different? Herbs are primarily either fresh or dried, and are usually only the leaves and stems of a single plant – basil, oregano and rosemary are just a few of the myriad herbs available today, and that have been used for tens of thousands of years. Most herbs are green when fresh, and can be green, green-brown or brown when dried.
Spices, on the other hand, are usually made from bark, roots, seeds, flowers and even fruits of plants, rather than the leaves and stems. They can be almost any colour, from brown to black, to red. Spices usually have much stronger flavours than even fresh herbs. However, some plants can produce both spices and herbs.
For example, you’re no doubt familiar with cilantro, which plays an important role in Latin American cuisine, as well as many other global cuisines. However, did you know that coriander (a spice) also comes from the same plant?
With that being said, some seasonings are inorganic in origin. Salt is probably the best example of this. Gourmet salts have been used to season and even preserve food for an incredibly long time. At one point, it was actually used as currency, and the tribe or group that controlled the largest salt deposits had the most prestige and wealth.
Spices and other seasonings have played a central role in human affairs for an incredibly long time. They have been instrumental in far more than just gastronomic enjoyment, as well. They were in fact responsible for some of humanity’s most notable achievements.
Fine spices were heavily used in ancient cultures, including China and Egypt. In fact, records dating back to 1550 BC highlight the use of spices like cinnamon and saffron as not just for use in making food more palatable, but as medical treatments for a wide range of illnesses and condition. As long as humans have been using spices, they have also been trading them. There is actually evidence that the Egyptians traded with the Chinese for cinnamon and cassia, at least indirectly, over 3,500 years ago.
Around 950 BC, the spice trade between what would become the Middle East and the Far East grew rapidly, as Arab merchants expanded their trade routes into India and China. Centuries later, Alexander the Great expanded his empire and founded the city of Alexandria. While probably most famous for its lighthouse and library, the city was actually founded to be a centre for spice trade.
At every turn, spices have played a central role in human exploration, trade and even in nation building. When Christopher Columbus set off to find a new route to India, he was not searching for new lands. He was searching for a shorter route to the primary source of spices at the time. Discovering the New World was merely a happy accident.
Throughout our history, control of spice supplies and trade routes has equated to wealth, power and prestige. The desire for spice has spurred new developments in navigation, horticulture and more.
At Kingdom Fine Foods, we pride ourselves on our selection of the finest, highest quality foods, and that includes some of the rarest, most sought after fine spices.
Saffron is, ounce for ounce, the most expensive spice in the world. It is highly sought after for use in an incredibly wide range of cuisines. Saffron is really nothing more than a part of a flower – the stigma from the crocus flower, actually. However, the fact that the crocus only grows in a limited geographic range, and under very strict conditions, means that the supply of authentic saffron is very limited.
This has given rise to numerous “faux” saffron-like products. At Kingdom Fine Foods, we carry only authentic Iranian saffron. Our selection is Grade A, and you’ll find only the richest, reddest parts of the stigma available, unlike other products that use lower grade cuts. Use saffron to flavour meat dishes, to spice up rice dishes, in paella and even in desserts.
While vanilla is technically grown and harvested in many areas of the world today, nothing compares to authentic Madagascar vanilla. Vanilla beans are actually the fruit of a specific type of orchid, and are only produced after the flower has been pollinated (by hand, not by insects). Initial growth for vanilla beans takes a full two months. However, another seven months is needed to develop its full aroma and flavour.
We offer only the finest Madagascar vanilla beans from hand-pollinated orchids on the island. Use our luxury vanilla beans in virtually any way you want, from homemade ice-cream to flavouring teas and coffees, baking cakes or pies, or creating authentic, 100% pure extracts.
As we mentioned, at one point in human history, salt was so prized that it was used as currency. While today we have what seems to be an unlimited supply of the stuff, it is still an essential ingredient in pretty much any and every dish. And, make no mistake, all salts are not created equal.
You’re no doubt aware of how little value common table salt has in the culinary world, but even sea salt can be lacking. Our selection of gourmet salts includes only the finest options from around the world, filled with essential trace minerals and offering unique, even sublime flavours to add to your favourite dishes and baked goods.
Of course, there are numerous other delectable spices available that can add a unique touch to your meals, and we invite you to learn more about them with our selection.
At Kingdom Fine Foods, we take a great deal of pride in offering our customers access to only the finest spices, such as authentic Madagascar vanilla and real, Grade A Iranian saffron.
We invite you to explore our fine spices and learn first-hand the difference authenticity and quality can make in your food. We also invite you to contact us if you have questions or need clarification on a particular product.