Paphos outlet blends spices for taste and health

first_imgThe most expensive foodstuff on the planet is a spice. Just one ounce of the stuff retails at over €5,000, and it consistently tops the list of the world’s most exotic foods. What is it? Well, you’ll have to read on to find out…The point we’re making here is that spices – of all types and varieties – are, and always have been, the most exotic, highly prized items in our culinary repertoire.But costly though some may be, there’s no price one can put on one’s health – and that’s where spices are really worth their weight in gold. Used as preservatives in Ancient Egypt, cure-alls in Ancient Greece, and as psychotropics in the Middle East, even today research has barely uncovered a fraction of their amazing properties… Turmeric, for instance, is said to be more valuable in fighting Alzheimer’s than the most effective drug on the market, cayenne pepper is known to beat cancer, and nutmeg is an antidepressant…“Most people tend to think that spices are just there for taste and flavour,” says expert blender and spice enthusiast Catherine Albayati, “but they’re so many other things: they’re healthy, flavourful and exciting!” Along with her husband Joe, Catherine is the co-owner and founder of The Spice House, and the couple are passionate about all things spice – to the extent that they’ve set up an entire business in out-of-the-way Peristerona based on these exotic foodstuffs.It began with Catherine’s passion for hand-blending oils, and then when the couple moved to Cyprus in 2012, Joe began making his own meat rubs. “He’s American, and a great barbequer,” laughs Catherine, “and I’ve always loved cooking, so we came up with a few of these blends and began selling them at famers markets.” The Spice House followed in 2015, inspired in part by the locality and the people: “Everything out in the fields is useful in some way. We see the old ladies of the village heading out to the hills each morning; if they’re not sourcing herbs and spices, they’re after wild asparagus or mushrooms or capers for their own kitchens.”This idea of picking, growing or cooking from scratch is a concept close to Catherine’s heart. Although neither she nor her husband are qualified herbalists, both are very knowledgeable and extremely passionate about encouraging others to eat well. “I feel that people have lost sight of cooking over the years with the advent of fast-food and a lack of time. So a large part of what we’re doing with our Spice & Easy range is extolling the flavours and benefits of good food.”The shop – which encompasses the ground floor and patio of the couple’s house – was set up “purely by demand. People wanted our products in between the famers markets. The kitchen diner is our blending room and workshop, and the sitting room is the shop and workshop – we have a big table that seats 8 to 10, and a log fire in the winter,” Catherine explains. “The Spice House is really less of a shop and more of an experience. It’s in a beautiful location right on the edge of the village, and we get people dropping in to buy, to sample, to enjoy our complimentary tastings and drinks, and to chat about recipes. Nobody stays less than an hour!”With three main ranges (a basic blend range, an international range and a wellness range – entirely gluten and sugar-free) and a focus on organic hand-blends, The Spice House is “all about blending, promoting the health benefits of spices, giving you the recipes to create your own incredible dishes, and encouraging people to use more spices and herbs in their cooking and in their lives,” says Catherine.Herself a sufferer of osteoarthritis, she’s a huge fan of turmeric – “it’s my number one!” she laughs. “Turmeric is an across-the-board spice, a natural anti-inflammatory which builds the immune system and dramatically increases the body’s antioxidant capacity. Of course all spices have wonderful qualities,” she continues, “and while we stock all the single spices, it’s our blends which make us unique.”Using only the freshest of ingredients sourced from all over the world, Catherine and Joe create a wondrous mixture of blends, dips and rubs. “At the moment, everyone’s going down with colds,” she continues, “so my organic turmeric and ginger with black pepper in raw honey is a best seller: one teaspoon in hot water and you’ve got the most wonderful warming drink. In summer, our dukkah dip is a great favourite, and people enjoy the Mediterranean blend – a mixture of oregano, rosemary, garlic, thyme, fennel, basil – all year round.”While single spices can be bought by the scoop, and specialist spices abound, blends such as ras el hanout, Chinese seven spice, and Thai 10 blend play a large part in The Spice House magic. “Because they’re hand-blended they’re really top quality: everything is completely natural, a lot of our products are salt-free, and there are no additives of caking agents. When you buy mustard in shop, it’s packed with flour as a filler,” Catherine explains. “Here, you’ve got fresh, natural, colourful ingredients straight from India or Sri Lanka: lovely greens and reds and golds. And it’s wonderful to see your customers getting so excited about spices and cooking and recipes,” Catherine enthuses. “The Spice House has gone way beyond what I ever expected would happen: we now deliver to customers all over the island, and even send to the UK!”Ceylon Cinnamon sticks for the heart, lemon peel powder for the immune system, fenugreek leaves for soothing the digestion… it’s all there in colourful – and aromatic – abundance at The Spice House. Along with, of course, the world’s most expensive spice of them all: saffron. (Did you think I’d forget?)“Spices are simply incredible, not just for cooking but also for our wellbeing,” Catherine concludes. “And if we can get people to have just a spoonful of, say, turmeric a day, then I guess we’ve done our job!”For more information on The Spice House in Persiterona, Polis, visit www.spiceandeasycyprus.com, the Facebook page ‘Spice&Easy Cyprus’ or call 99 104622. 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