Finally.  Finally available at the Farmers Market (too long I’ve been feeling like one of Stuart MacLean’s producers…long suffering)…lovely, aromatic, sumptuous, alluring, eye-catching, pungent, seductive, crackly, powdered, nuanced…herbs & spices.

I could easily spend the morning, tea in hand, chatting, sniffing, floating, imagining.

Have you stopped by Kate’s bit of the market yet?  This woman not only has a most beguiling array of herbs & spices, she is warm, gregarious and lipstick cordial, eager to talk about her passion.  She is knowledgeable and willing to share. Wise and helpful.  And that folks, that is what it is all about.

What is not to love?

Kate's wares

Herself beguiled by the secret wonders of spices and the magical lives of herbs since a teenager, Kate has cooked, served, and dremelled glass on her way to vending her wares at the Charlottetown  and Queen Streets Farmers Markets.  She grows her own herbs and revels in the precious gifts of traveling friends and relatives. Chervil seeds? Not to be taken over the border! Jeezzzz!

I’ve made my own Ethiopian Berbere spice mix. It was amazing, but required a lot of work to round up the small bits of herbs and spices. Now, I can just pick up a few grams from Kate and put together a Lentil & Tomato Stew (doesn’t this look good!) or a Chicken Stew.

How about Garam Masala? You can get it at the grocer these days, but mass produced spice is not going to have the special appeal of hand mixed concoctions.  With garam masala at hand you can go Bengali any time you wish!

Cinnamon, rosemary, dried lemongrass, whole nutmegs (yum!), Hungarian paprika, Schezwan peppercorns, juniper berries, Thai red chili powder, lemon juice powder, brown cardamoms, dried mandarin orange peel, powdered galangal. Oh, so many possibilities, so much fun!

Seven kinds of salt! And, I like salt! Himalayan rock salt, Indian salt, Hawaiian black sea salt with alaea or with charcoal. I learned so much about salt yesterday, even solving a recipe mystery. A dear (spice) person in our life (collectively, we share one life), Bharti Vibhakar, sold us spiced cashews many times.  These most yum nuts had a special flavour, an egginess which made them always taste like more and which I have never been able to reproduce.  No wonder, but no more.  Kate carries an Indian salt, rich in sulfur – it smells exactly like those spiced cashews of years ago and now I know the missing ingredient! Bharti’s mischievous but approving smile floats before me.

We purchased several salts and peppercorns on yesterday’s visit to the market. We’ll be stopping by this booth regularly, developing a deeper relationship with Kate and her jars, filling our lives with rich herbal niceties and spicy implications.  You should too.