You may not have the extra cash for that trip around the world this summer, but how about an affordable alternative? Cardamom & Cloves, Ottawa’s premier spice shop, is the place to go to discover all kinds of tantalizing tastes from around the globe. From the smoky aromas of the Horn of Africa to the rich spices of China and dozens of other exotic places in between, your kitchen can become an international hub of flavour with a quick trip to Preston Street.
Opening this past February, owner and spice-maven extraordinaire Jodi Samis is a walking encyclopedia of spice knowledge and know-how. Even if you’ve never heard of harrissa, berbere, nettle leaf or armchoor powder, don’t fret! A trip to Cardamom & Cloves is an educational experience as well as a flavourful one. Jodi is always available to give advice and offer suggestions on the uses for the myriad spices that are beautifully displayed around her shop in big glass jars. You can even have a custom spice blend created for you if you’re feeling adventurous.
One of my favourite things about Cardamom & Cloves is that, not only does Jodi offer the wealth of her own knowledge to customers over-the-counter, but this little shop also hosts a bevy of live-cooking demos and workshops that sometimes involve other members of Ottawa’s vibrant foodie community. Hosts have included Don Chow of popular food blog foodieprints, and the Lowertown Canning Company. Attendees can learn things like how to pickle zucchini, liven up sweet potatoes or put together the perfect marinade. Upcoming workshops include one on Dips and Sauces and another on Spice Blends. They sell out pretty quickly so grab your tickets soon if you’re interested!
I’ve been to the shop many times and thoroughly enjoy talking with Jodi about all the weird and wonderful goodies available to jazz up my culinary creations. My personal outlook on spices has changed dramatically since becoming a customer. I find now that it’s much better to have a small amount of good spice on hand rather than a bulk amount that just sits in my cupboard until I need it. Fresh spices are much more pungent and carry more flavour, allowing a smaller amount to go a longer way. I’ve even got a batch of homemade vanilla currently infusing in my cupboard thanks to some good advice from Jodi on vanilla beans. I can’t wait to pop some of that into my fall baking!
If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Cardamom & Cloves yet, I strongly suggest you head over before the summer is out. Your BBQing will thank you. Also, sniffing is encouraged! Customers are more than welcome to unscrew a jar and enjoy the exciting aromas hiding in each container. This is a great way to become familiar with some of the more unique and exotic spices on offer. Just be careful with the Habanero Powder.