With the holidays behind us, many of us will be settling into our cozy spaces to contemplate the new year. The German word for something comfortable is gemütlich; Danish people call this cozy, comfort-seeking vibe hygge, pronounced hyoo-guy. Futurist Faith Popcorn pronounced “cocooning” the key trend of 1981, which Martha Stewart popularized. Popcorn calls the latest trend Small Indulgences, where “stressed-out consumers want to indulge in affordable luxuries and find ways to reward themselves.”
This month’s “Eating Scene” is a little different because it’s going to help you enjoy delectable tastes and soothing aromas in your own personal cocoon. You can start by indulging your two chemical senses, taste and smell, at The Spice & Tea Exchange on Centre Street, where you’ll find everything you need to create your own cozy vibe: spices, custom spice blends, salts, sugars, teas, peppers, honeys, accessories, and candles.
Owned by Bill and Linda Files, The Spice & Tea Exchange has something special for everyone. Their staff offers every customer a quick lesson in navigating the dizzying array of delectable choices in the shop. Sensory storytellers and taste guides, they help you smell and taste until you find what delights your own taste buds.
My first experience is the Florida Sunshine Spice Blend, the one I’d vote most likely to jump into your life, with sea salt, ginger, green peppercorn, rose petals, and zest of lemon, orange, and lime. Rose petals bring the citrusy, salty, gingery flavors together. Pick up the jar and inhale deeply. I added Florida Sunshine to Lemon Drop cocktails for the holidays, and the salt popped up the sweet and cut the tangy sour perfectly. Seafood, popcorn, chicken, and vegetables all come alive in Florida Sunshine. This is the most popular item in the store, so get yours soon. Look for Florida Sunshine in sugar and tea, also, and even a candle.
Whole spices and spice accessories are available here. Spice Blends are blended on-site and are the pride of the store: Kahuna Garlic Salt and Italian Street Fair are popular ones. A chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island asked for a custom blend, and just like that, he had his own blend. The Convention & Visitors Bureau asked for something involving shrimp, so Bill and Linda custom blended Amelia Island Lemon Garlic Pesto. I made herby Lemon Pesto Shrimp with it. Easy and delicious!
Sugars include Mango Habanero, Peach Bellini, Hibiscus, Rose, Dark Cocoa, Bourbon Black Walnut, Lavender Lemon, Roasted Espresso, and a favorite: Salted Caramel. Sea salts include Bacon Smoked, Chocolate, Ghost Pepper, Cyprus Black Lava, and a favorite Honey Truffle. Honeys include Cocoa Whipped, Arbol Chile, Himalayan Salt, Pumpkin Chai, and Bourbon, made with real bourbon.
Tea is their largest category of goods, offering most ages, colors, and processes, even bright green matcha. If wellness is your interest, the whole staff is conversant in the health benefits of drinking tea. Come in and browse the two tea walls or get a fresh iced or hot tea at the Tea Bar.
If you are out-of-town and run out of something, just call and they’ll ship it to you. In just one shop, you’ll find all you need to soothe your senses. Just pick up a jar and inhale. The Spice & Tea Exchange is located at 316 Centre Street.