A week or so before my first speedy trip to Toronto, I met Costas Halavrezos and his neighor & friend Ruth at the Old Brewery Market. He now distributes a wonderful collection of spices from around the world hunted down by the Spice Hunters at Epices de Cru, headquartered in Montreal. You have to check out the website, where you'll find, not only the fantastic spices and aromatic blends, but brilliant recipes and stories on their blogs - a National Geographic trek around the world searching out the finest spice treasures anywhere.
Costa had so many wonderful choices of gift boxes and individual spices, my head was spinning. In the end, I couldn't resist the gift box (well... it was a gift to me from me and I don't feel guilty in the least)... my kit - Caris et Masalas - curries & masalas, included Sri Lankan Black Curry, some Jamaican curry, some Martinique Colombo Spice Blend, some Mauritius Masala, some Trinidadian Curry, and some Singapore Curry.
After much sniffing of tins, I decided on the sri Lankan Black curry and whipped up Kalu Mas Curry with just a few changes to their delicious recipe... no lemongrass and I used fenugreek leaves as I had no curry leaves on hand either. It still was spectacular.
Their aromatic Basmati Rice Pilaf was equally delightful, just as presented and so simple to do. Don't you just love the toasted poppy seed garnish? The sweetness of the rice - cardamom, cloves, cinnamon & coriander does it well - was the perfect partner for the tangy curried beef - the tamarind paste really added zing to the dish.
And a very cool trick to keep your blend fresh... The note in the box advised me to blend the entire little tin so that all the individual whole spices would be part of the mix you added to your dish. As you can see, just dipping a spoon into each jar would mean missing out on one or more fragrant spice. If you do have any left, pour the ground spice back into the little tin and freeze until the next time.
Now I have to decide which blend to try next... and hope that Costa is still at the market so I can purchase some of the individual spice tins as well.