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Spices and Heirloom Veggies: My Trip Report

Okiedawn OK Zone 7
13 years ago

We took a day trip to Fort Worth today because I needed to go to Pendery's Spices to stock up on some bulk herbs, and wanted to go to a whole long list of other places. Here's the report on a fun day in Fort Worth.

PENDERY'S SPICES: Pendery's is an institution in Fort Worth, having been there over a hundred years. You can order their spices online and have them shipped, but we drove down since it was only 80-85 miles or so for us (I didn't check the mileage, so it might be 90 miles).

Pendery's is in an old restored home on 8th Avenue right in the hospital district. This was my first time to visit the retail store, which opened some time after we moved up here. It was marvelous! There was room after room after room of bulk spices and herbs. The aroma was heavenly, and you could smell it from the small parking lot in front of the store.

I stocked up on a lot of herbs I use lots of, and bought some chili spice mixes as well. Here's a list of what I bought: dillweed (I got a half-pound for just a little more than I'd pay for one small jar at Wal-Mart), turmeric, dill seed, mixed pickling spices, celery seed, cinnamon sticks, mustard seed, whole allspice, spaghetti spice (their blend of garlic, onion, salt, oregano, black pepper, parsley and sweet basil), Chisholm Trail Spice (their blend of kosher salt, ancho, garlic, sugar and cumin--to use as a steak and pork rub for grilling), Fort Worth Light Chile Blend (blend of chile peppers, cumin, MSG, garlic, salt, etc.), New Mexico Lifht (blend of chiles, cumin, garlic, MSG, oregano, salt, etc.), Dallas Dynamite (a hotter, flashier blend of chile peppers, cumin, onion, coriander, garlic, etc.) For all the Chile Pepper Blends, you just add them to your favorite meat, onions, tomatoes, etc. to make homemade chili. Oh, I got a bag of catnip tea, but for my cats to enjoy, not to actually brew as tea.

This store was so amazing. I could have wandered around in there for hours. One room was nothing but dried peppers of all kinds....dozens and dozens of selections. You could get almost each variety they had as either dried pepper pods, dried flakes or powder. I had to laugh, because they had powdered habaneros and powdered jalapenos, which I've made myself here at home this year. It would have been so much easier to buy it, but at least mine was home-grown.

Another room had lots of dried veggies....dried tomato powder, sundried tomatoes, dried potatoes, dried bell peppers, etc.

The two main spice rooms had every spice you can image. Want peppercorns? They had lots of different kinds. Want mustard? Seed or powder? Yellow or brown? Lavender? Rosehip tea? Imported cinnamon? Vanilla beans? Mexican vanilla? Herbes de Provence? You name it, they have it.

I had a rip-roaring good time, and I didn't even let myself go into the merchandise room where they had chili pepper aprons, potholders, cookbooks, hotsauces, kitchen accessories, etc.

I could have stayed longer, but then I would have spent more money. I love buying herbs in bulk. You can spend $6.00 and get 10 times as much as you'd get if you spent that amount of money on that herb or spice at a grocery store.

I already reached an agreement with my DH that we'd visit Pendery's again sometime in October so I can stock up on baking spices for fall and winter.

CENTRAL MARKET: This is my favorite gourmet grocery store. It opened up after we moved here, but I love to visit it whenever we're in Fort Worth. Their produce section must have at least four to six times as much produce as I've ever seen in any other store. Take for example, the shallots--they have 5 or 6 different kinds. They had regular tomatoes and then they had probably 15 kinds of heirloom tomatoes (most of them were $4.99 a lb.). They had quince, they had asparagus in white, green and purple, every exotic tropical fruit imaginable, etc. etc.

Since it is September, they had the biggest selection of winter squash and pumpkins I've ever seen. They had Cinderella/Rouge Vif d'Tampes, orange-striped cushaws, buff, white and greenish-gray cheese pumpkins, some huge green 'pumpkins' that must have weighed 25-40 lbs. each, and of course the standard white pumpkins and orange ones...and all that was outside on the sidewalk. Inside, they had all kinds of winter squash and gourds. I was thinking of all the various ones I've grown over the years, and it seems most of them were represented there today. It was just amazing.

I mostly went there to look--you can entertain yourself in this store forever....artisan bread and cheese, local honey, thousands of bottles of wine, artisan sausages and other meats raised and processed in Texas. They have things you never see anywhere else...Blueberry Soda? (sigh) For me, going in there is like visiting an amusement park. I can just wander around forever and ever.

I did buy a few pounds of pickling cucumbers, which I don't think I've ever seen in a store before, although sometimes you see them at Farmer's Markets. I was just dying to make pickles and my fall cukes are just beginning to produce. So, I bought cucumbers and a bag of Honeycrisp Apples--this year's crop, fresh from Washington State.

I did look over the potatoes pretty well. They had about 20 or 25 varieties and I want to buy some of them in late fall or early winter to pre-sprout for spring planting.

Central Market was such an adventure that we skipped going to Whole Foods or Green Sprouts.

TOWN TALK: My Favorite Bargain Store. Town Talk salvages food from wrecked semis and also buys out the merchandise of manufacturers or retailers that are going out of business. So, when you go in there, you never know what you'll find. Sometimes I find high-quality meat at amazing prices, and other times it is produce. Every now and then I pick up a case of Dannon yogurt (24 cups, I think) for a dollar or two, and it isn't even out-of-date! Today's big bargains were Yellow Cherry tomatoes--usually $5.99 for 32 oz. at Sam's, and I got them for 75 cents for 32 oz. I bought 4 of them, and wish I'd bought a lot more. Four pounds are dehydrating in the oven right now and the other four pounds are in the crockpot cooking down to make a yellow pasta sauce. Oh, and the other big buy was Alaskan King Crab at half-price. Town Talk is always good for surprisingly good buys.

By the time we've shopped our way through three stores, we were tired and headed home.

I had such a good time. I think I'd rather spend a day, or just part of a day, visiting my favorite food stores in Fort Worth than going somewhere like a mall or a movie or whatever.


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