Spice Ace In Pac Heights Carries Seasonings You've Never Heard Of

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Pete Kane

Just off the main bustle of the Fillmore as it transitions in Pacific Heights is a new and wonderful niche shop for home chefs. Like a modern apothecary, Spice Age contains hundreds of jars full of seasonings both fabulous and everyday, all arrayed on clean, white shelving. It's Kiehl's for pink Himalayan sea salt -- which, incidentally, you can purchase as flat blocks to use as cooking surfaces for the stovetop or barbecue, or even as a mortar and pestle, formed entirely of sea salt.

See Also: Space-Age Food Now Available at MUJI

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Pete Kane

Spice Ace is a boutique full of filé, kaffir lime leaves, raspberry cane sugar, Trinidad scorpion chilies and an entire wall of various salts and peppers. There are gift sets and various kitchen accouterments, and the prices are quite reasonable -- especially considering that bulk herb purchases often make little sense for home cooks who won't burn through nearly a jar of turmeric before the flavor fades. Jars with black lids are for sampling, and I tried at least a dozen things, nearly all of them delightful. (Bourbon-smoked paprika, watch out!) There are tiny spoons and pill cups for sampling, which I found slightly awkward: am I supposed to spoon some sea salt into the cup, then throw it back like a shot? And I couldn't find where to discard the spoon. But I managed.
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Pete Kane

While the selection is exceptional, the packaging could be a little bolder. Stark white labels with black-and-red type make a nice unified brand, but the lack of differentiation cuts into their visual appeal as gifts, and because the label covers most of the bottle, if you had more than five or six of these on a shelf, it could be hard to tell them apart. (Unless you're the type to alphabetize your spices.) But as with the sampling procedure, this is a minor quibble. Affordable, practical and fun to browse, Spice Ace is a winner.

Spice Ace, 1821 Steiner, 885-3038

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