Anyone who even dabbles in cooking- or perhaps just obsessively watches cooking shows- understands that the high quality of ingredients in a meal are of the utmost importance. We are now taught to locally source our meat, to eat seasonal vegetables and fruit, and to engage with our food in a more meaningful way. Why, then, would you season those excellent ingredients with generic, store-brand oils and spices? You wouldn’t, because you’re smart, and you’d go to The Spice Trader, because you’re a local.
This little shop on Queen West, just across from Trinity Bellwoods Park, is a little gem. First of all, it is beautiful, with wooden panelling and shelving, and a striking marble bar, giving the place the air of an explorer’s club in Belle Epoque-era Paris. The shelves are lined with beautiful tins of spices from all over the world and bottles of oils and vinegars with tags proclaiming their contents and geographical source. Pink Sea Salt from the Himalayas, olive oil from Portugal, tagine spices from Morocco; it’s a world tour in one little shop.
What makes this a local spot is that its delightful owner makes an effort to connect with each customer. She learned my name the second time I walked in. The shop also hosts a variety of classes in the evenings- from wine tastings to sausage making. It will make an excellent spot to pick up something unique for the budding chef in your life.