The Finishing Touch
The first thing I noticed when I stepped into the store was the organization and the cleanliness. At a dinner party a few nights ago our hosts had mentioned their latest intriguing discovery: a true spice shop right here in our midst.
This is Claremont Spice & Dry Goods.
The name conjures all kinds of scented memories for me of spice shops across the Middle East and North Africa. After coaxing my husband into a drive down Interstate 91 to exit 8, I half expected to enter a somewhat dark building with myriad containers of dried turmeric, curries, sumac and so on. Instead, David Lucier and his wife, Ingrid, are the enterprising proprietors of a modern commercial space right in downtown Claremont, N.H.
After several holidays to New England, the Luciers moved from Maryland in 2011 and opened their shop that December. They arrived in the upper valley with fond recollections of a favorite store where they used to live near Washington D.C., and in deciding what to do in their new home, both felt compelled to follow their fervor - thereby introducing all of us to the luxurious delectability of quality dry goods.
Ingrid was adamant that there be no foreign hands and fingers inserting themselves into the many jars of colorful spice and its derivatives. After experimenting and comparing glass containers to various other storage units, the couple soon found the barrier film packages with a sleek, modern look that keep the contents hygienic and fresh. Every month they inventory their stock and check their self-imposed three-month freshness date. Now, I will also admit that I certainly don’t switch out my spices on a quarterly basis. As we walked around the various aisles we were able to test-smell every offering from a small glass jar and read a description on the accompanying package. Everything is laid out in a clear alphabetical manner, as opposed to the trap that befalls some markets in promotional displays or some such paid product placement.
Besides some pink peppercorns, juniper berries and Chermoula seasoning, I chose a delightful mix called a ‘New Mexico Hatch Chile Powder’ that has a mild heat and sweetness perfect for eggs or some tacos. Another mix that I sprinkled on some baked oven fries last night is an ‘Ancho Honey Citrus Seasoning’. It combines dried chiles, honey, paprika, onion and garlic. The ‘Basque Seasoning’ has an intoxicating aroma and its rich terra-cotta color includes sun-dried tomatoes, paprika, onion, garlic and other spices. Its packaging suggests use on poultry, beef, seafood and potatoes. As I peer at my different choices I see that the weights vary from .5 ounces to 1 and there are larger packages also available.
David and Ingrid have fine-tuned something quite unique and now welcome locals as well as visitors and tourists from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York state. Apparently some are so spice-obsessed that a day trip from the Garden State is simply par for the spice course.
As I sneak a whiff from some of my own, shall we say, maturing bottles of spice, there is indeed too much of a discernibly flat, dry smell. And even though David has assured me that I need not adhere to such a timely verification, Claremont Spice and Dry Goods has most definitely motivated an upgrade. By the way, a thank-you is due to our dinner hosts for not only spoiling us with a gorgeous flank steak, but for the mention and discovery of this little gem.
Business hours are Tuesdays from 9:30 am until 3:00 pm. Wednesdays through Saturdays 9:30 am until 6:00 pm. Sundays from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. They are closed on Mondays.
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