Meet The Merchants: Alison
It is no surprise our spice merchants are passionate about cuisine, but there's more we'd like to know about them. Learn more about the people behind the world's finest spices and discover their favorite spices, recipes, and hobbies.
Q: What’s a favorite spice you've discovered since starting at The Spice House?
A: It would probably have to be the Aleppo Chile flakes. It has a sweet fruity flavor with a little bit of heat. I love using it for avocado toast, pizza, on top of hummus, or in pasta dishes.
Named after the Syrian city, the Aleppo pepper found its way along the Silk Road into kitchens and recipes across Central Asia. These pepper flakes add color, mild heat, and a unique salty-raisiny flavor.
Q: What’s your favorite Spice House blend?
A: Like many others, my favorite blend has got to be our Back of the Yards Butcher's Rub. Don't be fooled by the name! It's amazing on literally everything! I love using this for roasted veggies, salad dressings, eggs, and, as the name implies, all the meats. Anytime I go on a trip I make sure to bring a jar along with me…
Back of the Yards Garlic Pepper Butcher's Rub
If one flavor combination could represent The Spice House, it is this hard-working butcher's rub. It takes inspiration from the many immigrant cooking traditions that grew out of Chicago's historic meatpacking district.
Q: What’s your can't-live-without spice?
A: Saigon Cinnamon. Our Saigon is so sweet and spicy and flavorful it instantly brings an everyday dish to the next level. I use it every morning for breakfast, whether it's in my oatmeal, waffles, or yogurt and fruit. I also add a little extra cinnamon to our Chai Spice in my Chai tea most mornings to give it an extra kick. And now with baking season coming upon us, I will be using it even more for all of the baked goods!
Saigon Ground Cassia Cinnamon
Spicy and sweet, this cinnamon is our most popular varietal. Its high volatile oil content makes the bark extremely potent. Vietnamese cinnamon is fiery, rich, fragrant, and amazing with chocolate or in cinnamon rolls, where it can be the entire flavor.
Q: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Without a doubt—it's pizza. I don't usually have a preference for toppings. If it's on top of a pizza, I want it. But since I've recently become allergic to gluten, it's become a little more difficult to find a good pizza. I love Lou Malnatis' sausage deep dish, and Spacca Napoli has quickly become a top contender. My coworker, Lonnie, took me there recently; they have amazing Napoletana style pizza in gluten free options as well.
Q: You used to live in Hawaii; how long did you live there for and what's your fondest memory from that time?
A: I was in Hawaii for 6 months farming on the Big Island and Maui. There were just so many awesome outdoor things to do there. Walking through bamboo forests to find waterfalls, hiking up volcanoes, swimming with all the sea creatures, finding secret beaches. It was truly a magical place.
Q: What are three items you’d take with you to a deserted island?
A: Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a book. I just started reading The Stand by Stephen King and it's 1,000 pages long. So that'll take up some time.
Q: Your favorite hobbies are ultimate frisbee and making ice cream; what's your favorite kind of ice cream to make at home?
A: Well, my all time favorite is a very rich chocolate peanut butter ice cream. I use our Dutched Cocoa, semi sweet chocolate chips and heavy cream (rather than milk). I also make a peanut butter swirl and add in crushed peanut butter cups... If you like chocolate and peanut butter you will love it! I also make a triple Tahitian Vanilla Bean ice cream. I'm not usually a vanilla person, but it's amazing and my Dad's all time favorite!