Penzeys Spices in Rockville
Penzey's is opening a new store in Rockville (today, actually, if sources are correct). I will be in the vicinity Saturday and may stop by the store to check out the place.
I have never bought Penzey's products in the past, but have seen the catalogue, which seems to be dominated by spice blends with kitschy names. Still, a number of people swear by Penzeys.
What are the strength of this store? The blends, or the stand alone spices? How do they compare with McCormicks?
Does anyone have a particular spice blend they recommend from Penzeys?
I've been buying their spices for at least 8-10 years by mail. I have never been too impressed by the blends, but I'm one who likes to make my own. However, the variety and quality and value of their individual spices and herbs is very high. I recommend going by to see what's there, and take a few home with you to sample. Then make your mind up. I wish there was one coming to Baltimore.
I have to say I really do like their spice mixes.
My mother in law gave us a whole bunch of them (southwest, "florida seasoned pepper," prime rib rub ... ). I'm normally a hater of mixes but the Florida one had a really lemony tang that was stronger (i.e. better) than any dry purported citrus spice mix I've had.
And I'm tickled by the whole concept of their "red and black" (50% cayenne, 50% black pepper). Maybe it's just the marketing, I dunno.
I stopped by the store today, and although it is not open until Monday (fire inspection hasn't happened yet), the manager let me take a look around. Mindboggling selection, and as a previous poster states, you can smell everything in the testers. They seem to have a good selection of exotic Asian spices. I'm sure one could find them in far-flung ethnic shops in the area, but it's nice that they are under one roof. Prices seem quite reasonable, compared to supermarket prices. Many of the smaller containers are in the under $3.00 price range. The place is very attractive.
I visited the Minneapolis store after drooling over the catalog for several years. It was much smaller than I expected but how much space do you need for tiny little containers of spices? I bought blends and various kinds of spices. The only thing that really made an impression on me was the Vietnamese cinnamon which was far more fragrant than anything else I had ever smelled/tasted. There are testers of everything in the store for smelling. I would probably not buy any of the dips or dressing mixes again. They were okay but nothing special.