Mo-Sa (10Am-6PM), Su (11AM-5PM)
(609) 454-5627 Website Google Maps
Sometimes, you run out of ground sumac, or find yourself desperately seeking that shallot-salt you know you had stashed in the back of the cupboard. When that happens, you can always see if Trenton’s Broad Street Imports is open–but if it isn’t you’ll find yourself driving up to Princeton to visit Savory Spice Shop.
Savory opened about five years ago in downtown Princeton (it is a franchisee of a national chain), and since then it has been our go-to spot for buying spices and herbs. You see, buying your spices and herbs at the grocery store is for chumps. Those bottled spices may have been sitting on the shelf for years, and in a warehouse for months before that. You’re stuck buying the same quantity no matter how much your recipe requires, and you end up with excess spices that sit for far too long in the back of your shelf. When you go to use them, don’t be surprised if they lack their punch. A ground spice loses a lot of flavor after six months, and a dried herb can go even quicker, especially if it is humid.
But if you go to a specialty spice shop, you can be assured that the spices have been freshly ground, and are replenished regularly. You can buy exactly the amount you want (in increments as little as one half an ounce). If you’re buying something you use regularly, you can stock up, and if you’re buying something special for a recipe you can buy just enough. They offer a much wider range of spices (from every cuisine) than any grocery store, as well as standard and unique spice blends that are sure to surprise. You can buy in bottles or in zip-locks, and the prices are competitive.
Here’s the most unique thing about Savory–you’re welcome to taste anything you’d like. Each spice has a “taster” bottle, just sprinkle some in your hand, give it a taste, and discard the rest on the floor. They sweep regularly. It is by tasting various spices that I’ve discovered how good their chaat masala is (slightly sour, slightly sweet, and perfect for roasting vegetables) or how intoxicating their vadouvan is (a sweet Indian spice blend that I now use religiously on my kale salads). Here’s a place that has maybe a dozen different BBQ rubs, at least 20 salts (the black truffle salt is exquisite), ten different black peppers (the bourbon smoked one is divine), at least two dozen hot peppers, six varieties of cinnamon, plenty of flavor extracts, and a world of curries and spice blends from every cuisine. Many organic options are also available, albeit at a premium price. And of course you can find all your standards–I’ve truly always found the spice I was looking for, and I cook an eclectic variety of world cuisines.
Jon Hauge, the owner, is a foodie–and if you’ve got questions he is the perfect man to ask. If you come in the right time of day, he’ll have a fresh baked confection that he’s eager to share, showcasing one of his spices.
So go to buy some spices, or go to sample. Either way, you’ll have a blast. Be sure to tell them that Hidden Trenton sent you!
ps. Parking in Princeton can be a pain. The spice shop is just across from the Spring Street Municipal Garage, where the first 30 minutes are free. So don’t bother with street parking, just head to the garage and keep an eye on your watch!