Monday, March 22, 2010

Spice Station, Los Angeles - The Silver Lake Spice Trade

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

After watching Food Inc., Jeni and I thought a lot about eating better and following a more sustainable lifestyle. Well, the best that we can. For those that live in Los Angeles, particularly ones that enjoy cooking as much as we do, now is a VERY exciting time. We started utilizing our resources in Los Angeles first by shopping at farmer's markets, particularly the Hollywood Farmer's Market on Sundays. There, you can find pretty much everything you're looking for. From fresh oysters from Carlsbad, to English shelling peas and the tasty California chanterelle mushrooms. It's not a surprise that you would see Los Angeles chefs there. We would buy all of our vegetables there and then make a trip to McCall's Meat & Fish Company in Los Feliz to pick up our proteins. At McCall's, with the careful eyes and hands of two passionate chefs, you have access to free-range, non-hormoned meats and fish. And finally, there's the Silver Lake Cheese Store, for those that want to do some nibbling before the meal even happens. Chorizo from Spain, artisanal cheeses from allover Europe and a nice selection of wine and oils. But while charcuteries, fresh vegetables, meat, fish and poultry are great, where would you be without your proper spices? This is where an Armenian-Canadian by the name of Peter B. from Montreal, enters the Los Angeles culinary scene and completes the home cook's trinity. Hello, Spice Station.

We're all guilty of it. We have spices that probably date back 5+ years. I bet you have that Schilling's black pepper in the red and white tin. That Montreal steak seasoning that has become one block of dried out bits. Or how about the Morton's chemical-tasting salt box with the umbrella-wielding girl. I know I do. Yet I continue to use my spices on my food as though it's flavor is eternal. And when I visited the Spice Station, I knew it was time to leave all that baggage behind. I'm talking 30-40 plastic containers of spices.

The Spice Station is located down a quaint walkway in the Sunset Junction. When you first walk through, you get a sneak peak at Peter B's featured spices on a large chalkboard. The location is so perfect as it feels like a cozy house with fountain and patio furniture. And it's actually a good break away from the skinny hipsters that lurk on Sunset Blvd.

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

If you're into spices, then this would be considered nirvana. The Spice Stations is seriously spicy. In keeping with the theme, he can take it to the next level and have the Spice Channel running and play Spice Girls but that wouldn't be very good for business would it? And it's clear that what Peter B. began as a hobby, is an impressive exhibition of passion. There are jars everywhere with recognizable and mostly unrecognizable spices. If you think about it, the collection he has here is the result of centuries of trade and war. Back then, being a spice purveyor meant access into virtually any country within Asia, Europe and Africa. Spice was currency; currency meant power. It's hard to believe that a small aromatic spice controlled the way civilizations were run and the amount of blood bled into the soil. Thanks to Peter B., the modern day spice man, you're going to have all your limbs and pay for spices at reasonable prices.

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

It was fun watching Peter B. I stood there with my camera and just watched him buzz around like a bee pollinating flowers. He'd grab jars here and there and restock them as needed. I would ask him questions about certain spices and he'd have answers for me immediately. Without even really looking at me haha.

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

In addition to hundreds of spices, Peter B. offers 28+ salts. If anything, this is most important ingredient in the world. NOTHING will taste good without salt, even that iodized table crap salt. I went ahead and tried all of them. He's got sea salts, flaky salts, pink salt and even the ghost pepper salt. Peter B. warned me not to eat more than TWO GRAINS, and man, that was enough to get the point. I plan to buy all of the salts and start a Facebook group on salts. I know you want in on this.

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

It's only fitting that the Spice Station would offer sets. These make great gifts for the home cook and are packaged nicely. I recommended Peter B. sell spice packets for things like Chinese Beef Noodle Soup (niu rou mian) and Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup (pho) since a lot of locals are heavily into Asian-style noodles. Being Armenian, he offers a nice shawerma/kebab rub.

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

Spice Station, Los Angeles - Peter Bahlawanian

Like I said before, I think right now is an exciting time for those that enjoy cooking. And even for those that have yet to touch a frying pan. Peter B. is not only knowledgeable about hundreds of spices but he is a cook himself and can help you make that boring grilled chicken breast into something sexier and remotely edible. Spices are charged by the ounce and it's a 1 oz. minimum. It is actually better to buy in small batches and get into the habit of labeling the date purchased. Thanks for reading.

Spice Station
3819 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 660-2565
www.spicestationsilverlake.com

13 comments:

Eleana said...

I will totally join your salt group on Facebook - you let us know when that's created!

Tricerapops said...

Eleana beat me to it, but yes - i'm in on Salt group in Facebook (ready to 'Like' the shit out of everything).

weezermonkey said...

This post is so hot.

Rylander said...

Oh, I am so envious. Those salts are enchanting. I love the way the entire shop is arranged.

Marie said...

Hmm. This place may persuade me to finally make chai at home!

Anonymous said...

THANKS FOR SHARING AND KEEP IT UP THE GOOD WORKS... AS ALWAYS... AGAIN, THANKS FOR SHARING...

Mark Kawayoshi said...

Liz and I watched Food Inc. on our iPods on the flight back from Jamaica. We are making an effort to eat more animal and environmentally friendly foods. It does cost more but I'm sure I will find options that are friendly on the budget. I've always noticed that it does taste better. I will curious to see if I feel better in some time due to eating more organic. Seeing those oversized animals is like looking at Barry Bonds' before/after the roids.

Anonymous said...

Got one word for you: mountain rose herbs

Exile Kiss said...

Hi E D B M,

Amazing! This place looks great. I can't wait to stop by. Thanks again for the wonderful post and pics. :)

Liz said...

I feel like a moth fluttering to the light gazing at these gorgeous shots of spices. Must visit when I find myself in the LA area next time!

boody said...

I've been dying to say this: This post is spicy!!! heheheh.

I can't help it. I brings the cheese.

Mark Kawayoshi said...

They are opening one of these in Santa Monica.

Peggy said...

Thanks for writing this post! I was actually searching for a place like this in Tokyo, where I'll be living next. My fiance and I move a lot for his job, and it's kind of a pain to have to lug spices with me everywhere, so retail stores selling spices by the ounce are a fantastic idea! I just hope they have something like this in Tokyo. In fact, why aren't there more stores like this?

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