Herbes d' Provence
So, this past weekend I was called upon to cook a risotto at a friend's apartment. Knowing there was no "herbes" to be had there, and wanting to infuse them into some chicken broth, I stopped at the first store between the subway and the apartment, Dean and Delucca, and purchased a jar.
They were, frankly, terrible.
I can't imagine how it is possible to screw up something so ancient and delicious so badly, but I am now filled with trepidation at the thought of purchasing more bad herbes d' provence. I have taken to wearing dark sunglasses, ducking into random doors and doubling back on my path to avoid being tailed, and carrying a weapon, and if I don't confront this demon soon I fear that I may hurt someone.
So please, someone, anyone, tell me where I can find some GOOD Herbes de Provence before it is too late.
The problem with buying dried herbs is they sit on the supermarket shelf for a decade before you purchase them and they are tasteless and overpriced. I get my herbs by mail order from a place called Pendery's. They seem to have a high turnover and the herbs are fresh and flavorful. The internet site bites. Use it only to order the free mail order catalog.
Why not go to a store that has bunches of fresh herbs, buy some that qualify as de provence, and mix them yourself?
The only kind I have ever used is Penzey's. I think it's wonderful, but again, it's the only kind I have tried. It smells divine too.
Interesting. The last can I bought as D & D is just about gone, but, particularly when fresh, and with a relatively handed application, made a nice roast chicken that wasn't too far off from one at the Hotel des Alps in Vence, above Nice.
On numerous occaisions I've received as gifts dried herbs from France, and for me they are definitely superior. I imagine it has to do with the slow drying as well as the correct timing of the harvest when the oils are at their peak. Just a very quick toast on a dry skillet and they're ready to use...
I've since brought back a large selection of dried herbs from Fauchon on my last trip to Paris, though I'm sure there are much more cost-effective places to buy dried herbs there...
(I receive the Penzy's catalog too, but their concentration on spice mixes which predominates the catalog has so far scared me away from ordering their basic herbs... Perhaps I'm being too cautious!)