Need some quassia bark for your cocktail bitters? Heather flowers for your homemade ale? Mahlab for your pastries? No problem, now that Lindsay Fastiggi has opened Spice Revolution in Dobbs Ferry. Those three spices, and 297 others including every relatively pedestrian one you can think of, are on her shelves, with 1000 additional types available for special order.
Some are U.S. certified organic, but most come directly from their country of origin where, Ms. Fastiggi, notes, no chemicals are used in cultivation. Choose from powders, leaves, ground or whole; you’ll be supplied a small batch of spice (small keeps it fresh) and a large batch of information. Ms. Fastiggi’s knowledge rivals her wares in depth and amplitude, so you’ll be advised whether cassia, Ceylon or Saigon cinnamon is best for your cobblers or tagines, learn to distinguish Himalayan sea salt from Hawaiian, and discern the nuances of 10 types of curry. Who knew that Grains of Paradise are like peppercorns, but sweeter and deeper? That amchoor powder, used in curries, is from unripe mangoes? That Middle Eastern za’atar is a mix of sumac, sesame, hyssop and oregano? And I didn’t even get around to asking about vindaloo or mugwort.
So how did a nice Italian-American Westchester-raised girl become a walking spice bazaar? “Growing up we had a big, beautiful garden,” Ms. Fastiiggi says. “There were always fresh herbs, and I loved sticking my hands in the dirt.” She went on to cook in friends’ restaurant kitchens, became intrigued by the interplay of sweet and savory, and found revelation in—I’m with you here, Lindsay— chocolate. “I was giving chocolate tours in Manhattan and learned that chocolate is a really good way to introduce people to spices,” she says. “I knew a little bit about blending my own spices, and I thought, how can I expand on that?” She’d find herself running around Manhattan, frustrated, searching for a specific ingredient. “I wanted to create a place where you didn’t have to go to the city, you could just come here and find it.”
And so she has. At Spice Revolution, her nascent chocolate-and-spice fervor now boasts 35 bar varieties, all fair trade and mostly organic, many gluten, soy and dairy free. And we’re not just talking a sprinkling of sea salt or dusting of orange zest. How does a beef jerky bar sound? What about lemon grass? Or her number one seller: the bacon bar (yup, with real applewood-smoked bacon bits. Be timid and be bored, I say).
And spices and chocolate are just the beginning. Spice Revolution carries oils and vinegars and tools like marble mortars and pestles, spice graters and measuring spoons. Soon the shop will carry charcuterie spices and curing salts (homemade sopressata, anyone?), and, possibly coffee. There are recipes, workshops and events posted online, special offers for Facebook followers, and frequent chocolate tastings at nearby Harpers restaurant. And on Saturdays in Hastings and Chappaqua, you can pick up your spices along with your peaches and mache at the farmers market. “What we do goes along with fresh food,” says Ms. Fastiggi. “Fresh food, fresh spices…we’re the finishing touches.”
Yes, and lucky us: now we have thousands of touches to choose from.
Spice Revolution, 34 Cedar St, Dobbs Ferry, 914-374-6576, spice-revolution.com