The Spice Trader: Organic Spices

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On Toronto's funky Queen Street West, one is often surprised at the juxtaposition of tattoo parlours and upscale bakeries, used record stores and modernist furniture- Its a mix. We recently noticed a storefront with the sign "The Spice Trader/ The Olive Pit" and entered a tiny jewel box of an organic spice store with over 150 different spices, herbs and salts, all packaged in beautiful little green boxes and jars. The smell was wonderful. We talked with co-owner Allison Johnson about salt, wondering how a rock could be organic and how would good old NaCl possibly have different flavours or cost so much. She immediately started serving tiny tastings of Bali sea salts, Fumee de sel from France, and a red Hawaian sea salt. It turns out that only New Zealand has third party certified organic salt, which was smoked over Pacific Alderwood and tasted like a campfire. It seems that an interest in organic food can open up a world of new flavours. ::The Spice TraderThis is a very small store, yet downstairs a completely different company, The Olive Pit, sells hundreds of different olive oils from all over the world. We asked about organic olive oils, and the proprietor laughed, saying that some of his suppliers have been making oil for generations without fungicides or pesticides, and they didn't need any third party certification to justify their quality. However, they did have a small selection of oils, cold pressed from certified organic olive groves, and we tasted samples from Sicily, Tunisia and Crete. All were like nothing we get at the supermarket, in fact like nothing we had ever tasted. No website yet, but you can visit both at 805 Queen Street West in Toronto.