Favorite Places: World Spice Merchants

bay leaves

I have walked by World Spice Merchants a million times, and even been in a couple times.  But I didn't really discover it until this week, and Yancey was rolling his eyes by the end of the day at my constant chatter about it.

The highlight of my week was a canceled meeting.  You know how that is.  I was downtown and it so happened that Yancey and Loretta were at Pike Place Market, all bundled up in the rain, so I got to join them instead.  When I rounded the corner into Post Alley, Loretta started jumping up and down.  Remind me of that when she's a sullen 15 and doesn't want to have anything to do with me.

We did our usual things--fruit, watching the lightning-quick crumpet maker and the Beecher's cheese-making.  Then we went down to Western Ave. and Loretta played outside with Yancey while I dawdled in the spice shop.  Oh, bliss.  They have the usual suspects--different salts, dried oregano, peppercorns.  But it's their blends that are most intoxicating.  You fill out a little order pad, and they scoop from bins and grind them right in front of you.  I got harissa, an ancho chile concoction, unbelievable garam masala, five-spice Chinese, and a bag of these beautiful, pliable California bay leaves.  The staff was delightful, too.  Even though I know a lot about food, I have a twinge of insecurity every time I walk into a specialty food shop.  I feel novice and dumb. Now I know YOU are rolling your eyes at this point, but that's my confession.  I think it's because I know how much I DON'T know.  I love to think about all the food discoveries still waiting for me in my lifetime.  Yesterday, on the phone with my mom, she said, "My biggest fear is that I'm going to die before I have a chance to make everything I want to make."  Clearly, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

No recipe for you today--I've had a kind of break-neck pace this week, and I'm not sure why.  New Year's energy?  But I have a few more things for you.  First, the ham update!  I went on and on here about the Smithfield ham we got from Bob's Quality Meats, and never told you how it turned out.  I'm positive there are at least a couple of you that have had some sleepless nights as a result.  After two nights of soaking it in a cooler and baking it without glaze in the oven for about 3 hours (we decided it didn't need glaze), I'm here to report that there aren't enough exclamations in my vocabulary to do it justice.  When it came out of the oven, my Mom, Wyatt, and I couldn't keep our hands off it--those little crackly bits, the thin layer of crispy fat, and the salty, striated meat that tasted like no ham I've ever encountered.  It's going to be a tradition, for sure.

hamming it up

And one more thing--Seattle sunset from Seward Park, on a walk with my family after we picked Wyatt up from the bus stop. Yancey's had five days off this week (part of the firefighting life that I adore).  Standing on the Seward Park trail with my camera;, fingers cold and light fading; those three precious figures ahead of me; I felt with Julian of Norwich, again, that "All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

seattle dusk