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Going to Penzeys for the 1st time...recommendations?

Hiya hounds... I am making a run to Cleveland to Trader Joes, Wild Oats and for the first time...Penzeys! (I know, sad I have to drive an hour but what can ya do?)

Any recomendations for must haves? Not so greats? Tips?

Thanks in advance!

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      1. re: ziggylu

        Agreed! Be sure to purchase several jars of the Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia...you can give them to friends!
        We have purchased all the various cinnamons that Penzey's has, and it is this Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia that we continue to use over all the others.

        1. re: liu

          I am interested in your answers too. There's a new Penzey's shop in my neighborhood and Im itching to get in there and see what they have. All those things I didn't know I couldn't live without, Im sure!

        2. re: ziggylu

          The Vietnamese cinnamon is good, but so is their Ceylon cinnamon. I love their 2x vanilla, and their tellicherry whole peppercorns.

          I would pass on the salad dressing blends, as they have too much salt and sugar.

          While your in Cleveland, make time to visit the west side market, and Gallucis on Euclid ave.

          1. re: Kelli2006

            I love Fox Point blend and use it on many things including eggs. the bay leaf blend has been a staple in my kitchen for some time also. But, there has been other threads about this before wherein some posters point out that the blends almost all contain salt. If this is an issue for you check the ingredients. If you are a baker don't pass up the orange and lemon rinds. You can make a powerful mustard with the dried mustard powder.
            Enjoy all the aromas and take your time. You'll be surprised at how good herbs and spices really smell when they have not sat in the grocery store for years.

            1. re: Kelli2006

              I just returned from Traders Joe's, Penzeys and Sur La table. This was the first time I had ever been to Woodmere plaza and I am quite impressed. The parking is convenient and everybody is almost painfully polite.

              Trader Joe's was a madhouse but I found a few splurges and I will definitely be back for the baking chocolate and some of the frozen items. The produce wasn't the best I have ever but I compares well to what i have seen at the West Side market, and I would definitely purchase it. This store needs to expand, with maybe a location on the west side in Medina. hint, hint.

              I have shopped at the Grand Rapids Penzeys location and this store is very similar.

              I had never shopped at Sur La Table, but I was quite impressed. The selection was impressive, and the prices were much better then expected. I came very close to buying a piece if MC2 All-Clad, as it seem to be on sale, but I resisted.

              I will definitely be making another trip.

              1. re: Kelli2006

                If you're at all interested, just a short piece up 271, at Mayfield Rd, there's a Costco. We usually hit there, too, when we go to Trader Joe's.

                I think Trader Joe's likes that small crowded neighborhood store feel. The three I've been to are all just like that.

                1. re: yayadave

                  I was very temped to hit the Wild Oats market just before I got back on I-271, but I resisted. Chagrin Road could be very dangerous for a foodie's budget.

                  I have never seen a Stone Oven bakery that is in the west end of the Traders Joe's plaza, but I wonder if it is as good as Breadsmith, or is it akin to Panera? The baguette and pan au levain at Breadsmith are very good, and would be considered respectable in Montreal.

                  I had only ever been to a T-J's in Columbus, and I wasn't entirely impressed with that location.

                  1. re: Kelli2006

                    I adore the Wild Oats on Chagrin. The bulk food section is where its at. However, the grade B maple syrup shot up to 8 bucks a pound from 3.99 and I got the Mesquite Honey from TJ's. The cheese and wine section are pretty good too.

                    Im interested in going to the farmers market everyone talks about...anyone have more explicit directions from Woodmere Plaza and I 271????

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            1. Yes, as lucyis noted, many of the blends do contain salt; some of them a great deal of it. The Fox Point seasoning is 4% salt (it's the first ingredient listed); the Chicken Taco seasoning is 23% salt (also the first ingredient listed). The only reason I have these is that Penzey's often sends free samples when you place a large order with them. I'd avoid them. You can make your own blends easily enough. Why pay for salt?

              And although it may be difficult when you're making a special trip, try to resist the temptation to buy too much. Ground spices that are kept at room temperature begin to lose their aroma in as little as a few months. Whole spices can be kept without deterioration for about year. It's far preferable to buy smaller quantities and replace them more often than to try to store larger quantities for longer periods of time. If you do want to buy larger quanities of ground spices, they are best stored in opaque glass containers in the freezer and warmed to room temp before using.

              1. Their salt-free Tuscan Sunset blend has turned into a must use when we're making pizza sauce at my house. And I'll add another vote for the cinnamons. Galangal is nice to have for stir fry dishes. Most of their curry powders are salt free, and are also good to have on hand if you stir fry a lot. Nice number of ground chili peppers of various types. I also use the Florida seasoned pepper on roasting chicken or turkey.