Lick the Plate: Lively up your cooking at The Spice Way in Encinitas

Lick the Plate: Lively up your cooking at The Spice Way in Encinitas
The Spice Way owner Debbie Selz Kornberg with one of her custom gift packages. Photo by David Boylan

Let’s face it, most of us think we can get all the spices we need at our local grocery store. We could probably get by living in an area without a local spice shop, but fortunately that is not the case for North County folks, which is a great thing for those of us looking to take our culinary skills to another level.

Having a resource like The Spice Way in Encinitas that is staffed by a team of culinary spice professionals who are passionate about what they do is reason enough make it a regular stop on your shopping circuit.

If you have an ounce of foodie in you, when you walk through the doors at The Spice Way and are overcome by a wave of aromas from the jars on the shelves lining the walls and the barrels filled with fragrant spice mixes, you will be transported to a very happy place. It really is a multi-sensory experience and one that I will be going back for.

Owner Debbie Selz Kornberg has immersed herself and her team in the world of spices and other culinary products and provided a wealth of useful tips on incorporating their spices and spice blends in my cooking. She also has a fascinating story that she shared on a recent visit to her fabulous store.

Lick the Plate:

You had a career prior to opening The Spice Way, what were you doing and how did it lead to opening a spice shop?

Debbie Selz Kornberg:

I was in education and nonprofit work for 20 years. In my last position, I worked for The Jewish Federation of San Diego as the director of Israel and Overseas. Traveling to Israel was one of the great perks of this job. During one trip, I had the idea to bring an Israeli spice company to San Diego for an event I had been planning. The company later approached me about the idea of opening a store here in San Diego. After thinking about it for a year and half, I decided to give it go.

LTP: Tell me more about agriculture in Israel, in particular the spice crops that they cultivate.

DK: Israel is at the forefront of agriculture best practices. Not only did they invent drip irrigation but also have cutting-edge technology for desalination of seawater. In fact, there is an Israeli based company right here in our own backyard in Carlsbad, IDE Technologies working to desalinize our water.

LTP: I love how you have the store designed into sections that makes it easy for spice novices to navigate. Tell me about that concept.

DK: The Spice Way concept is all about quick, easy and healthy cooking. We have set up the store so people can easily go to the different departments to find the spice blend they want to use in their cooking: Meat Fish Poultry Blends, Ethnic Blends and Rice and Quinoa Blends etc. We enable people to be able to come home after a long day and not have to feel like cooking dinner is such a chore. Our blends have a ton of flavor, are healthy and, best of all, make preparing a meal quick and easy! Dinner can be ready in 20 to 30 minutes.

LTP: You also put an emphasis on spice blends that can really help a busy home cook save time. I’ve already used the Polish Meatball Blend in hamburgers on the grill and they were fabulous. Give me an example of some popular blends.

DK: Definitely! Our most popular blends are for main courses and side dishes. Whether it is our Salmon Spice Blend, Herb Chicken Blend, and Rosemary Garlic Salt for Roasted Potatoes or Pistachio Rice Blend, preparing the food is very simple and you don’t have to sacrifice flavor.

LTP:  For someone who thinks the only spices they need can be found at the grocery store, how do you convince them that a store like The Spice Way should be included in their shopping mix?

DK: The Spice Way products are much fresher. We grow many of our herbs and spices on our farm in Israel. We dry them in the sun (not the oven), keeping as much of the integrity of nutrients as possible. We also hand blend our spices giving us excellent quality control.  Our products are not only GMO free, pesticide free and vegan, but we put an expiration date on them so you know they are always fresh.

LTP: You are also much more than a spice shop, tell me about some of the other products you carry.

DK: Yes, we have a Spiced Products department, which includes our infused Vermont maple syrups, eight varieties of honey as well as infused aged balsamic vinegars and extra virgin olive oils. We also have a wide selection of teas and infusions. There is additionally a nice variety of kitchenware to create a complete cooking experience.

LTP: I would think that educating home cooks on incorporating spices and some of your other product lines would be key to converting them to spice devotees. What type of events and seminars do you hold that encourage that and how do folks find out about them?

DK: We really consider The Spice Way not only a retail store but also an educational resource. Our staff is trained to not only know our products, but to also know the health benefits of using them on a daily basis. Our goal is to create a culinary experience for our customers, whether it is cooking in their own home or attending a free cooking demonstration, a hands-on cooking classes or at private events both on and offsite. We want our customers to feel like they have had an experience that is both practical and meaningful.

LTP: Let’s wrap this up with an example of something amazing that you have prepared recently that utilized your spices.

DK: One of my favorite dishes to prepare is an Ahi Tuna Steak with our Espresso Meat Blend. It literally takes 10 minutes to prepare and is so delicious.

The Spice Way also offers beautiful custom gift baskets for any occasion that are perfect for the foodie on your holiday list. Personal appointments are also available for curated gifts for co-workers, family and friends.

They are located at 260 B El Camino Real, Encinitas. Call (760) 634-9709 or visit  www.thespiceway.com/sd/

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