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The Spice Market

You don’t have to travel to the market in Marrakesh to breath in the aroma of fabulous herbs and spices. In a mini-shopping mall in Carle Place is Penzeys Spices, where Aladdin’s chef could have spent many happy hours.

Primarily a mail-order business located in Wauwatosa, Wis., since 1987, Penzeys opened here in Nassau County last year with the Carle Place store. It’s a bright and airy shop and what makes it especially wonderful is that there are open jar displays of all the spices so you can sniff to your heart’s content before making your choices.

The choices are mind-boggling. Bet you thought cinnamon was just cinnamon. Not at Penzeys. There’s China cinnamon described as extra sweet, spicy and strong; sweet and mellow Indonesian cinnamon; complex and fragrant cinnamon from Ceylon with citrus overtones and rich buff color; and extra fancy Vietnamese cinnamon — the strongest, richest and sweetest. Can’t make up your mind? Get Penzeys cinnamon, a mixture of all four. Plus cinnamon sugar, cinnamon sticks and cinnamon chunks. And so it goes for chili peppers and pepper (white, black, green and pink plus Indian black and Szechuan).

Penzeys goes one step further with their special regional spice blends such as Herbes de Provence made up of rosemary, fennel, thyme, savory, basil, French tarragon, dill, Turkish oregano, lavender, chervil and marjoram. Their Cajun blend has 20 ingredients, and there are nine styles of curry powders (most are salt-free). A special favorite in my house is Arizona Dreaming, which I use to make a very tasty and warming southwestern-style soup that got us through the winter.

All this deliciousness can be overwhelming, so to help customers navigate the choices Penzeys publishes a 60-page catalog eight times a year, describing all the spices, giving tips on how to use them and publishing profiles of some of their customers.

The spices are sold in quarter-cup and half-cup jars, as well as four-ounce, eight-ounce and one-pound bags. With grilling season coming, BBQ 3000, Galena Street Rib and Chicken Rub, Jerk for chicken and fish and Northwoods Seasoning are good choices (the four are also available in their Grill and Broil gift box).

Do your senses a favor and get over to Penzeys. You don’t need a magic carpet.

Penzeys Spices is located at 213-A Glen Cove Rd. in Carle Place. The phone number is 516-747-7078.