"I've been to Jamaica for allspice, Vietnam for cinnamon, Malaysia
for cloves and white pepper." Lucia Cleveland, an accredited botanist
and gourmet cook, travels the world looking for the most unusual seasonings.
It's a crusade she started some 20 years ago because she said she couldn't
find the right spices for her favorite recipes.
"There is such a big difference between fresh and what you find in
the supermarkets and I thought there had to be something in between,"
Cleveland said. Today she runs a multi-million dollar food enterprise
that includes these handy little meals and soups in a cup to a wide array
of seasonings and spices. Cleveland founded the San Luis Obispo-based
"Spice Hunter" in 1980. While she does search the globe for
her products, the hunt began right here.
"A big break for me was when I got connected with the California
herb growers. I found the best basil. I found the best dill. I found the
best shallots and garlic," Cleveland said.
Spice Hunter has strict criteria for selecting its specialty herbs and
spices. Rod Gray, herb and spice commodities manager said he looks for
aroma, flavor and the essentials oils that are contained in the plant.
Spice Hunter is also looking for the new and unusual like Madagascar vanilla
beans and Sarawek white pepper, both from Malaysia. If the spice exists,
Spice Hunter will find it. However, it must pass the stiff Lucia Cleveland
She taught me how to sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on my hand and sort of
lick it off. Not all cinnamon, or any other spice is created equal. Cleveland
goes to the country that she believes produces the best quality of any
given spice. Her company also puts suggestions for use on the labels.
She's truly the original "Spice Girl" and she loves it! Spice
Hunter products are available at supermarkets and specialty food stores
in all 50 states as well as online at www.spicehunter.com and through
a 24-hour service line at 1-800-444-3061.
Grilled Fish with Mango Salsa Recipe
Orange Ginger Pepper Blend
Juice of one orange (1/2 c orange juice)
1 T. olive oil
1 t. salt
1-1/2 lbs firm fish steaks
1 mango, diced
4 scallions, diced
2 T. Orange Ginger Pepper Blend (Spice Hunter)
fresh mint, minced (optional)
Combine orange juice, oil, salt and 1-1/2 T. Orange Ginger Pepper blend.
Use mixture to baste fish while grilling. Grill fish to desired doneness
and serve with salsa of mango, diced scallions, 1/2 T. Orange ginger Pepper
Blend and optional fresh minced mint.