Three cheers for Penzey’s. The Milwaukee-based spice merchant has blazed a Silk Road all the way to L.A., or to be more accurate, Santa Monica. The camel caravan had already stopped in Torrance, true, but that’s a bit of a hike from our home here in The Valley. St. Monica, on the other hand, is but a hop over the hill and always well worth the trip, Penzey’s or no Penzey’s. We ♥ Santa Monica.
Sure, we could order these great spices by mail, but the sensory experience of the physical stores is not to be missed. Find the one nearest you and trek. The stacked crates, upended dinghies, and glass jars of spice that you find in all their outlets — plus a cute lil country kitchen section in the St Mon store, complete with old-timey fridge — are a treat for the eyeballs, but it’s the nose that gets the royal treatment here. From the moment you enter right up to the moment you are cleaning up the powdered cloves you spilled when you got home you will be sniffing like Hollywood partygoers on a Friday night. All over the shop are sample jars of the wares. Pop a top, draw in the fragrance of, oh, Cassia China cinnamon say, and meditate on the goodness of God, or, if you are atheistic, on the goodness of Agod.
None of my photos of the St. Mon Penzey’s came out except the one above taken through the window. Hyperventilation had made me dizzy.
You may view a larger reproduction of this fine deKooningesque figural study HERE.