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Jan 10, 2002 10:29 PM

Saffron source?

  • c

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl

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

      2 Replies
      1. re: cjbmirage2

        Ooops - obviously NOT on North Shore

        1. re: cjbmirage 2

          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. 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

          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

            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

              third on

              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

                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

                  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. 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...