Food, Food Artisans

Zingerman’s Spices up Ann Arbor with Montreal’s Épices de Cru


Whole Spices Featured at Weeklong Series of Events in April

This month, Zingerman’s welcomes Canadian spice importers Épices de Cru to Ann Arbor for a series of workshops aimed at exploring the use of whole spices in cooking. The week will culminate in a trio public events at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Zingerman’s Deli, and Zingerman’s BAKE!

Épices de Cru approaches spices in three unique ways. First, their spices are always sold whole, which protects purity and freshness. Second, they purchase directly from growers on sourcing trips, which ensures fair trade practices and consistent quality. Third, they source spices from traditional growing regions, or terroirs, which have historically produced the most flavorful products. “We believe in listening to the people who actually live the food we’re trying to make,” says owner Philippe de Vienne.

The Montreal-based company was founded by the de Vienne family, and has been encouraging people to learn about spices and grind their own for over a decade. “Spices have an undeserved reputation for being complicated,” says Épices de Cru founder Ethné de Vienne: “It seems like people are waiting for permission to get creative with spices. Spices have few rules. We just want to tell people it’ll be fine, just start cooking!”

Both Zingerman’s and Épices de Cru share the belief that home cooks can make better food by grinding spices themselves. Says Zingerman’s founder, Ari Weinzweig, “Thirty years ago the idea that everyone you knew would be grinding fresh beans to make coffee every time they brewed it home was almost unimaginable.”

Ari first encountered the Épices de Cru shop in Montreal’s Jean-Talon Market several years ago, and has long wanted to bring their spices to Zingerman’s. Last year, he learned they were finally looking for distributors in the U.S. “I was immediately excited,” he said, and invited the family to visit Ann Arbor in 2014 and share their knowledge of traditional spices. The visit was a resounding success, and Zingerman’s has since incorporated Épices de Cru spices into several dishes.
(Read Ari’s essay about the Spicetrekkers in the March/April Zingerman’s Newletter.)

For this year’s visit, Zingerman’s and Épices de Cru have scheduled three public events to showcase the wonderful and aromatic world of whole spices this April:

All Spice Routes Lead to the Roadhouse

Tuesday, April 14th, 7:00 pm at Zingerman’s Roadhouse
Roadhouse Chef Alex Young teams up with Montreal-based Spicetrekker Philippe de Vienne to create an unforgettable menu. Join us for a bit of spice history, a bit learning about how to use spices in your own kitchen, a good dose of spicy storytelling, and a really good meal!

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The Ins and Outs of Spices: How To Find, Store, And Serve The World’s Best Spices!

Wednesday, April 15, 6:30pm, at Zingerman’s Events on Fourth
Visiting spice trekkers Marika, Philippe and Ethné de Vienne voyage from Montreal to share over thirty years of incredible spice travels, travails, and terrific tastes with us. The results of their work are an almost overwhelming list of special stuff that we’re privileged to offer for sale at the Deli and for tasting on this exceptional, educational and enlightening evening.

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Baking with Spices

Thursday, April 16, 2015 6:00pm, at Zingerman’s BAKE!
Go beyond vanilla and nutmeg! Don’t miss this one-time opportunity to learn from the Spice Trekkers, who’ll visit BAKE! all the way from Montreal. The de Vienne family, spice experts and engaging speakers from Épices de Cru, have traveled the world to bring the best spices to North America and they’ve learned a lot along the way. They’ll walk you through the sites and smells of an array of baking and dessert spices that can breathe new life into standard recipes. Teaming their knowledge with our baking expertise, we’ll then sample a couple baked goods comparisons so you can taste the difference.Together we’ll demonstrate how good quality fresh spices and grinding your own at home can dramatically improve the flavor of your baked goods.

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See you soon!