I was driving along Meridian to the new Forza wine bar in Puyallup (a story will be coming soon on that) when I saw a sandwich board with "spices" written on it. That's all I needed as an invitation. The store is Ubiquitous Journey, which I had thought for more than a year was a New Age book store. Nope, they have a half dozen rows of spices, herbs and teas. They call themselves Puyallup's Spice Merchant.
While some of the inventory seems focused on nutritional supplements, many interesting spice and seasoning finds will appeal to adventurous cooks. I found three or four different kinds of sea salts, including smoked sea salt and black lava salt, that previously I've had to drive down to Olympia to get from Buck's Fifth Avenue.
If you've never heard of Buck's Fifth Avenue, it's the best spice shop in the region for its inventory. Owned by Anne Buck, it's an emporium of culinary greatness and offers spices, seasonings and blends that you'll find difficult to locate around here. I've bought Indian long peppercorns, Hawaiian red salt, Bolivian Rose Andes salt, truffle-infused salt, black Indian salt and dried, preserved lemons there. I've also come home with Saigon cinnamon and Korinji cinnamon. Buck is one of the most knowledgeable spice experts I've ever interviewed, and she'll sell you spices in any quantity. On my last visit to Buck's, an elderly man came in wanting a teaspoon of ground nutmeg. And that's what he left the store with.
I'll be writing about Buck and her store in the Wednesday food section next month, so check back for that.
Like Buck's Fifth Avenue, Ubiquitous Journey carries curry and other spice blends (I saw garam masala, a Caribbean herb blend and a handful of others). At Ubi's (as owner Robyn Liss calls it), you'll find dozens of varieties of teas – about 60 total. She has green, white, black, red rooibos and herbal teas blends. Liss told me when I was perusing her tea selection that she has a recycling program where customers can bring in their old tins and have them filled. Many of her teas, and spices and herbs, come from Mountain Rose Herbs, a Eugene, Ore., business.
Ubiquitous Journey/Puyallup's Spice MerchantWhere: 15011 Meridian Ave. E., PuyallupInfo: 253-445-6128 or http://www.ubiquitousjourney.com
Buck's Fifth AvenueWhere: 209 Fifth Ave. S.E., OlympiaInfo: 360-352-9301 or http://culinaryexotica.com/