Those lucky enough to have stumbled into the charming Gewürzhaus (German for ‘spice house’) stores dotted around Melbourne and now Sydney will be all too familiar with their intoxicating blends of spices and herbs. Keen to add a little warmth to our cooking this winter, we hopped on the spice trail to discover a little more about these fascinating stores.
How did a shop dedicated to herbs and spices come to be?
The first Gewürzhaus opened on Lygon Street, Carlton, in June 2010. The Konecsny sisters, Maria and Eva, had visited a dedicated spice store in Munich in 2009 and wanted to bring the concept to Australia.
A German born family, Maria and Eva grew up baking with their Oma and fossicking for wild mushrooms with their mother. Their Great Oma, Rosa, was a baker by trade and her love of cooking has filtered down through the generations. They began exploring and creating their own spice blends, without the preservatives and anti-caking agents that most imported spices are full of, and with the highest quality ingredients possible.
The shops themselves were designed to pair the exciting new blends, many of which uniquely contain Australian ingredients, with the old-style service of a traditional German spice house, allowing people to interact with the spices – to smell and see each one before buying.
Over the five years the sisters have opened another three stores in Melbourne, the Toorak store incorporating a cooking school, as well as a store in Sydney, and they now stock over 250 single-origin spices and unique blends.
What different spice blends work well in winter?
So many spices work well in the winter months and many can be warming without too much chilli heat.
Ras el Hanout is a favourite. Moroccan blends are wonderful for winter and Ras el Hanout is a traditional blend of many spices. It means ‘head of the shop’ and it usually represents the very best spice merchants have to offer. Light, floral and fragrant, it is a harmonious blend that flavours rice, tagines, couscous, game and lamb beautifully. Our special blend even contains Australian natives such as lemon myrtle.
Our Winter Soup Mix and Bavarian Roast Chicken Spice are wonderful for more European dishes, and our Black Truffle Salt with mushrooms, pecorino and pasta dishes just has to be tried.
Madras Curry and Tandoori Masala make wonderfully fragrant, warm marinades and curries and, for a fiery hit, you can try our Salt and Pepper Squid and our Louisiana Cajun spice.
For the sweet tooth we have a Chilli Chocolate spice for decadent desserts and a Velvety Vanilla Chai Tea blend. For the ultimate German warmer, we have a Glühwein spice blend to make a wonderfully wintery mulled wine.