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Saffron source?

C. Fox Jan 10, 2002 10:29 PM

Where's a good place to buy decent-quality saffron? Bonus points if it's on the North Shore or along the northern half of Rte. 128.

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  1. k
    Karl RE: C. Fox Jan 11, 2002 07:40 AM

    Bread & Circus has a branch in Bedford, on Rte 4/225 a couple of miles north of 128.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl
      Gabe Handel RE: Karl Jan 11, 2002 09:10 AM

      I have two favorite sources:

      Trader Joe's (any location) has really good-quality saffron at pretty reasonable prices.

      Any Indian grocery store will also have it at really low prices. I've found that quality can be pretty sketchy, but sometimes it's great. My last purchase was an ounce of saffron for $26. It included a fair number of stems, but I simply add half again or twice what recipes call for and I still come out way ahead.

    2. c
      cjbmirage2 RE: C. Fox Jan 11, 2002 09:18 AM

      While obviously on the North Shore, has anyone tried Homsey's, on Rt. 1 in Norwood?

      2 Replies
      1. re: cjbmirage2
        cjbmirage 2 RE: cjbmirage2 Jan 11, 2002 09:19 AM

        Ooops - obviously NOT on North Shore

        1. re: cjbmirage 2
          galleygirl RE: cjbmirage 2 Jan 11, 2002 10:44 AM

          But knowing Cfox, well worth the trip---another fun food field trip!! I buy all my spices in bulk at Homsey's, the ethnic emporium!!! Ans while there, stock up on their store made sacks of baked pita chips, and unbelievable take-out Middle eastern and Greek food....and legumes...And all kinds of halvah!!! Haven't they moved a little further down Rt.1 now????

      2. l
        Linda W. RE: C. Fox Jan 11, 2002 09:59 AM

        Have you tried Wild Oats (or is it Wild Harvest?) in Saugus? I usually buy things in bulk there on occasion, but I'm pretty sure they have the small tubes of saffron hanging along the bulk food aisles.

        Indian groceries would be another good choice, as I'd expect the quality would be better than what could be purchased at a "regular" store, considering the clientele.

        There's a combination Indian/Chinese/Thai store on Cambridge Street in Burlington, next to a Boston Beauty store. I can't remember the name of the place (maybe has the name "Bazaar" in it?), but it's in a small strip mall on the right hand side of Cambridge St. opposite the entrance to the Burlington High School. I've bought various Thai and Indian spices there when I couldn't find them in the regular supermarket.

        1. s
          splendidspatula RE: C. Fox Jan 11, 2002 11:18 AM

          As an occasionally house-bound graduate student in love with online shopping, I buy unusual or special spices (saffron included) from Penzey's.


          fun to browse, great catalog.

          4 Replies
          1. re: splendidspatula
            Jujubee RE: splendidspatula Jan 11, 2002 11:31 AM

            I second Penzey's! They have three grades of saffron, but even the lowest grade is as good as or better than most of the stuff I've bought elsewhere. Their prices are reasonable too.

            1. re: Jujubee
              supersnob RE: Jujubee Jan 12, 2002 11:51 PM

              third on penzeys.com

              i've never bought saffron from them, but they're pretty reliable on everything else. their "mainstream" herbs like thyme and tarragon are really great: make a sauce and it will taste noticeably better. Magic? MSG? don't ask me.

              I'll admit to being a little uneasy about penzeys. it is either a great company dedicated to quality, or a Moonies Unification Church front for "drinking the koolaid": if you search the newsgroups you'll see nothing but fanatics chanting penzeys, penzeys, penzeys, penzeys... the Taiwan Cafe of mailorder spices. so, I've got no idea how many other good places there are to get fine herbs, but penzey's was a step up for me from the national brands you've heard of so I've stuck with them so far. I just never had the experience before of thinking "hmmm, this is really tasty thyme"

              With specific regard to saffron: the stuff's so expensive that counterfeiters come out of the woodwork, so in particular I'd have the urge to buy it from a vendor with a good reputation.

              1. re: supersnob
                Jujubee RE: supersnob Jan 14, 2002 02:42 PM

                supersnob, you're posting had me cracking up - especially the tie-in to Taiwan Cafe (though what can I say? I'm hooked). If you get a chance, you should visit one of Penzey's retail stores. I've been to the one in Oak Park, IL and they have larger jars of each spice sitting out for you to sniff. Some of them smelled so good I wanted to eat them straight from the jar! Maybe we should be a little more wary, but they make it so easy to get sucked in...

                1. re: Jujubee
                  supersnob RE: Jujubee Jan 16, 2002 09:50 PM

                  cracking up? folks, she wasn't laughing a normal laugh.
                  it was the maniacal cackle of one of the children of
                  TC (the corn)... Tee Cee, penzey, Tee Cee, penzey...

                  she scares me, they all scare me. but I'm drawn back
                  in, as if by forces from the other side. The herbs,
                  the herbs, I want the herbs.

                  seriously, I've been working through the lot of them,
                  one at a time and they're so good. I'll make a stew or
                  a sauce and I'll just load up on one to get a sense of
                  what it's about. The thyme is good, the rosemary ok,
                  oh but the sage... it is really good. It says on the
                  label "Sage, Dalmation Rubbed". Now, I don't know why
                  rubbing it on a Dalmation would make it taste so darn
                  good, but I'm telling you, it all ties together somehow.

          2. c
            C. Fox RE: C. Fox Jan 11, 2002 06:59 PM

            Thanks for all the suggestions. Who knew my li'l query would generate a whole "saffron thread"? (Sorry, couldn't resist...) I'll check out Wild Oats first since I'm going there anyway. Also there's a (new? or new-looking) Indian grocery in Arlington Center that may have it. galleygirl, Homsey's sounds great -- maybe I can work it in next time I visit my sister in Easton...

            1. a
              Andy T. RE: C. Fox Jan 11, 2002 07:47 PM

              In a recent Cook's Illustrated they tested a few different Saffrons: one from India, one from Spain, and one grown in Pennsylvania. They liked the one from PA best. It can be purchased at the link below.

              Link: http://www.pageneralstore.com/

              1. g
                galleygirl RE: C. Fox Jan 14, 2002 05:01 PM

                Just at Trader Joe's..They have little jars for $1.99...Forgot to check how many grams...sorry....

                1. r
                  rmbelson RE: C. Fox Jan 14, 2002 07:48 PM

                  This place down in Truro has amazing prices (beats Penzeys hands down) -- they do mail order. I can't speak as to the quality of their saffron, but you could give them a call. I bought some tea from them (dragonwell green tea) and it was inexpensive and as fine as you could want -- sold in simple brown paper bags. Also got some vanilla from them.


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