good spice markets?
In preparation for the holiday season, I'm looking for a good market that has an array of spices, from the mundane to the exotic. East/South Bay would be ideal, but I'll travel far and wide for a good source!
I used to get my spices at Sahadi's in Brooklyn -- 'twas my dream of a store! They had a high turnover, so spices were REALLY fresh and pungent, and I could also get nuts and some serious dried fruit (not to mention the world's largest malted milk balls!).
I always liked Real Foods (several SF locations including 24th Street at about Noe and Stanyan at Carl) for bulk spices, but now that I'm in the East Bay, I've been going to Ratto's deil in Oakland (near Chinatown at about 10th and Jefferson). They used to be better, I think, as they seemed to have changed their focus to takeout food, but they do have a good selection. Berkeley Bowl seems to have cut back on their bulk spices and last time I got some there I was not impressed with the quality. As for the exotic, Oakland has a fairly large Indian population and I'm sure there are some great Indian markets' I'm just not sure which ones are supposed to be the best.
In the East Bay. Berkeley. Country Cheese has a pretty decent selection of bulk spices that are pretty reasonable priced. They are on San Pablo Ave. at Addison St. Nearby on University Ave. there is an Indian Dry Goods store called Milan. When you walk in the smell of spices is intoxicating.