Last Minute Gift Guide
•Hersam Acorn Newspapers• •
December 15, 2011
One of the most memorable gifts I’ve everreceived was from a neighbor, who, tothank me for helping her out of a toughspot, gave me a boxed set of PenzeysSpices baking extracts. The neighbor andI, both avid cooks and bakers, usually endup talking about food over our split-railfence, and we often share recipes, as wellas the fruits of our labors. It was the per-fect gift for me, and showed just how wellshe knew me.To be perfectly honest, however, whenPenzeys Spices first opened in Norwalkin 1999, I was a little skeptical. An entirestore devoted to spices? Don’t most peoplebuy their spices in the supermarket? Howare they going to stay in business? I won-dered, and gave them six months.Well, it’s been 12 years, and not only haveI been proven completely wrong (the storehas continued to thrive), but Penzeys hasbecome one of my very favorite places toshop. In fact, the phrase “like a kid in acandy store” could be applied to me andanyone else who loves to cook and bakeand who eschews the supermarket bakingaisle for Penzeys Spices.
Headquartered in suburban MilwaukeeCounty, Wis., the business actually beganas a mail-order company, with people pur-chasing their spices out of catalogs.Owner Bill Penzey, who grew up in hisparents’ spice business, followed the tradi-tion of their life’s work when he launchedPenzeys Spices 25 years ago, first froma warehouse and then the company’sfirst retail store. Today, Penzeys boasts63 stores, with two more scheduledto open soon. The Norwalk store,the company’s fourth, is convenient-ly located at 197 Westport Ave., astone’s throw from Stew Leonard’sand just minutes away from I-95 andthe Merritt Parkway.“Our principal focus is the home cookand baker,” explains Margie Gibbons,spokesperson for the company. “Thereis something kind, generous and wonder-ful in the notion of going into the kitchenand making something to share with yourfamily and friends. We want to make iteasy for people, from beginner to expert,to prepare the meal they have planned,whether they are following a cookbookrecipe to the letter or improvising on anold family favorite.”Shoppers who visit the retail stores areencouraged to ask questions of the knowl-edgeable staff, who tend to be self-pro-claimed foodies themselves. “Customerscan come in and chat with us about whatthey’re planning to make, and we can helpthem find what they need to make everymeal special,” Margie says. “People don’tneed to wait for the weekend ... why notmake Tuesday evening a little more inter-esting?”Penzeys products run the gamut from bothwhole and ground spices, dried herbs, rubs,custom and salt-free seasoning blends to avariety of cinnamons (four different types,to be specific), vanillas and cocoas, toname just a few. Arbol chili peppers, Cajun-style seasoning, Garam Masala (a salt-free all purpose blend called for in manyIndian dishes), Penzeysminced garlic, lemonpeel, mulling spices,pizza seasoning,poppy seeds, saffron,sausage seasonings,Trinidad lemon & gar-lic marinade and wholepink, green, black and white pep-percorns are just some of the offerings thathome cooks can find at Penzeys to creatememorable family favorites.“We try and meet every baking and cook-ing need, and offer a wide variety andtype of products,” Margie explains. “Theseingredients can be used to make an Indian-or Mexican-inspired meal, for example,and we encourage cooks to experiment,perhaps trying a spice or seasoning blendon something they’re used to cooking, likechicken or beef, and then if the dish isa hit, they can take it a little further andmake something more layered, using addi-tional spices or seasonings.”
It’s Beginning To Smell A Lot Like Christmas
While the retail stores offer a veritable feastfor the eyes, nose and mouth and comprisea large segment of the company’s business,
The Kind Heart Gift Box features four jars of seasonings, all salt-free.– Courtesy of Penzeys Spices
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ou're sure to find somethingfor everyone on your list at Stewart’s!
Spread some holiday cheer with our gourmet gift baskets, made-to-order fromour produce team! And if you can’t make up your mind why not give the giftof Stewart’s Gift Cards
(available in our Market and our wine shop in any denomination).
rom simple stocking stuffers to thoughtful gifts, Stewart’s haseverything to spread holiday cheer! Shop Stewart’s for a delightfulassortment of handcrafted and festively-packaged holiday treats.
Imported Belgian chocolates from Neuhaus; classic foil milk chocolate Santas, Snowmen & Sleighs from Madelaine and Thompson; and Vermont’s finest chocolate Santa’s, Pralines, and stocking stuffers from Lake Champlain.
Walter Stewart’s Market
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