Bleinhem Crescent is a fabulous little London oasis for the home cook, with the Books for Cooks bookshop/café and The Spice Shop right across the street.
The Spice Shop is a London institution, the city's best address for sourcing literally any spice from anywhere in the world.
The Spice Shop also ships its spices and spice blends internationally and has online ordering. But you have to walk into the shop to get the heady hit of spices that greets you when you walk in the door.
The spices here are all-natural, sourced from the best producers, and mixed by hand by owner Birgit Erath, who began with a cart at the Portobello Road market in 1990.
Birgit mixes her spices and spice blends in a warehouse in her native Germany, and these days leaves the day-to-day operations to her son. The Spice Shop offers more than 2,500 products available to take home in its signature turmeric-colored tins. But if you can't find what you're looking for, send Birgit an email and she will try to source it for you. In addition to multiple kinds of black pepper from around the world, you can find her inspired blends of couscous seasoning, harissa mix, or fiery Berbere Ethiopian Wat seasoning, to name a few. The Spice Shop's clients include home cooks, restaurant and celebrity chefs alike, and Birgit has even assembled a number of spice bundles based on recipes from Delia Smith or Jamie Oliver in her Celebrity Cooks section for the home cook with a TV cooking show fetish.
- Kristin Hohenadel blogging from rue Vieille du Temple, Paris, France. She can be reached at kristinh @ apartmenttherapy . com