A Visit to The Spicery

Article by Jonathon Stephenson March 10, 2017

The Spicery is an artisan distributor of fine spices and was founded as a small-scale business project by James Ransom in 2005. He had nothing more but a small box of spices to sell; it has since gone from strength to strength, continually expanding. milk was fortunate enough to speak to a member of the team behind The Spicery, Kimberley Onasile, who recently graduated from Bath Spa University.

What is The Spicery?

A spicery is a spice market in places like foreign trade markets. Traditional spice markets sell whole spices like Cassia Quills, a Sri Lankan spice similar to cinnamon except sweeter and hotter, as well as ground spices. At The Spicery we crack, toast and grind spices ourselves, as well as selling recipe kits and subscriptions. This is what we are most known for. With our subscriptions, you get a different box each month containing a wide variety of different spices – it’s a great way to try some different, delicious flavours.

How do you decide which spices to stock?

Robyn, our production manager, is in charge of importing and getting spices from credible suppliers around the world. We actually stopped supplying Chipotles, because the way they were smoking them in Mexico wasn’t safe. We also pay attention to popularity; what people like to cook with and what sells well. With that being said, we encourage people to try new things, even if it’s something as simple as a different type of pepper.

Do you stock any unusual spices?

We stock a variety of different kinds of chillies, such as the Carolina Reaper, which a lot of supermarkets don’t stock. It is the hottest chilli in the world. The chilli rating scale is called the Scoville Scale and the Carolina Reaper sits at the top. It’s a crossbreed of the Habanero Pepper and a Ghost Pepper. It’s insanely hot. The Kashmiri Chilli is actually very popular. It’s not incredibly hot, but it has a really nice earthy flavour. They are from a place in Northern India called Kashmir, also known to produce Cashmere wool.

loose Kashmiri Chilli  © Jonathon Stephenson

Have you noticed any popular trends in spicing?

Unlike clothes, there is never too much of a direct trend. However, in terms of food, people are very into healthy eating. Lifestyles surrounding veganism and fresh produce are quite popular now. All of that goes hand in hand with spices. For example, we sell a lot of Shichimi Togarashi, a Japanese blend, because Japanese food is really healthy and relatively easy to prepare. Shichimi Togarashi has got different sesame seeds, nigella seeds, and if you bring yourself close enough, you can smell the citrus.

Is educating people about spices an important part of what you do?

Yeah, a lot of people who come in don’t know much about any of this. They often ask about different spices. We have open days where anyone can come in and buy anything from the shop. We also have curry nights where we have people come in and share interests in curry making.

Located appropriately in the docklands of Bristol’s St Philip’s Marsh, you might imagine historic trading vessels, fully laden with spices, floating up these canals towards The Spicery. Whether rediscovering traditional spices, broadening the varieties of trusted favourites or introducing herbs and blends which are totally innovative, The Spicery play their part in a quiet culinary renaissance.

To find out more visit their online website.

Feature Image: © The Spicery

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