‘Rory’s Choice’ at Allspice

Try these three spices from Allspice to energize your recipes, from deviled eggs to white fish to black beans.

By Wini Moranville

You’ve heard of “chef’s choice,” right? That’s when you just shut the menu and say, “bring me whatever the chef thinks I should have tonight.” I’ve discovered some great dishes this way.

Recently, I decided to do the same thing with Allspice Culinarium. In addition to ordering a few favorites I’d run out of (za’atar, sumac, tarragon and chipotle chili powder), I slipped owner Rory Brown $25 more to tuck whatever he thought I should try. “Surprise me,” I said.

Thanks to this roll of the dice, I won big and recently energized my cooking. Here’s what I snagged:

Paella Seasoning: A while back, I raved about Allspice’s heavenly Seared Salmon Blend. The Paella Seasoning brings equal dynamism to white fish varieties. The mélange of garlic, onion, chiles, turmeric, paprika and saffron enlivens foods with a spicy-bright heat and haunting floral and bitter qualities. I recently loved the flavor (and saffron-yellow hue) it added to a seared-then-roasted rockfish; Brown suggests using it on shrimp and scallops, too.

Wild Mushroom Seasoning: You know how Italian cooks call on porcini mushroom to add richness to sauces? This seasoning makes it easy to add porcini richness to steaks and burgers before grilling. Come this fall, this blend is headed for my mushroom pastas and risottos—and meatloaf. Brown also likes adding it to a rich and gooey hot cheese dip.

Cancun Rub: Did Rory Brown read my mind? This spice seems tailor-made for black beans, which I’ve been cooking every which way this summer (in flautas, tostadas, in salads and as a bonus to huevos rancheros). Rather than measuring out this and that from a half a dozen different jars, this spirited blend lets me add garlic, onion, cumin, paprika, cayenne and citrus in one fell swoop.

P.S.: I tried all three blends in deviled eggs (always a perfect blank slate for great spice blends). While all three tasted all-out good, the wild mushroom seasoning tasted all-out amazing.

Allspice is at 400 East Locust, Suite 5; 515-868-0808.

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