January 03, 2011

Shopping in Des Moines: allspice

Right before Christmas, Juli and I did some shopping in the East Village area of Des Moines.  We go there fairly often, as two of our favorite shops are located in that area.  Kitchen Collage is one of our go-to places when it comes to various sorts of kitchen utensils, small appliances and so forth.  It's where we purchased our knives and cutting boards, among other things.  Gong Fu Tea is, quite simply, the best place to purchase tea in Des Moines.  They feature a wide range of excellent teas and teaware.

This time around, though, we checked out something different:  Des Moines' newest spice store, allspice.

allspice (yes, they spell it in all lower case letters) sells a wide range of herbs, spices, chilis, infused olive oils, balsamic vinegars and more.  The store advertises itself as a "100% local and family owned business."  It opened in September 2010.  We can vouch for the store's claim that their spices, chilis, rubs and so forth are freshly ground/mixed and packed, because we saw two of the employees doing just that during our visit.

One of its more notable features is Iowa's first olive oil and balsamic tasting bar.   A good part of the store is taken up by displays of the numerous oils and vinegars.  Each is in a big, shiny stainles steel cask with a spigot, which one can use to fill a bottle for purchase, or to sample the various wares.  allspice sells a lot of different flavors of high-quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  The citrus-infused olive oils and one which included Asian sesame oil were among the stand-outs, though more standard herb-infused varieties also had excellent flavor and aroma.

We didn't purchase much during our initial visit to allspice, but not for lack of interest.  That late during the Xmas shopping season we were running a bit short on money, so we decided to minimize our purchases on this occasion.  All we picked up this time around were a pair of colored salts (pink and black), which we figured would make for a nice presentation with special dishes, and a jar of black sesame seeds.

We'll be returning to allspice soon, though.  Juli and I have both been thinking about dropping by and picking up a selection of their olive oils.

Allspice is located at 400 East Locust in Des Moines.  The store hours are Mon-Fri 10-6 and Saturday 10-4.  You can check out their website at http://www.allspiceonline.com/.   There isn't a lot at the website yet, but we're looking forward to that changing.  There's lots good at the store already, though, so check it out.

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