10 places to shop for spices in Toronto
Spice shopping in Toronto, to the nonchalant cook, is but a mere trip to the closest mega grocery store. There you'll find plastic re-sealable baggies of nutmeg, and in minutes your sweet curry will be well underway. But for a more sensual experience, a little background information, and quite often, a better price, there are a few specialty markets and bulk stores in Toronto that deliver much better when it comes to dill.
These are the shops that source exotic spices from all over the world, and many allow to you take a whiff to make sure the spices meet with your culinary specifications. And if you're not sure, the staff at most of these shops will surely have the answers. Here are 10 places to shop for spices in Toronto (that aren't Bulk Barn).
Trupti is definitely worth a drive out to East York for those who are serious about fresh, authentic spice. The shop makes its own spice blends, grinds its own flour, and prepares its own instant mixes. Needless to say, those who are wary of strong scents should steer clear.
House of Spices
Most people know this Kensington shop as a great source for anything bulk, and spices are no exception. House of Spices has been around since the 1970's, sourcing herbs and spices from all over the world with a particular emphasis on Mexican and Indian spice. The shop also sells bags of combination spices designated to certain dishes.
Qi Natural Foods
You probably wont find sodium-laced chicken seasoning at this health and bulk store.Qi Natural Foods stocks a selection of spices you might not find just anywhere, including ashwagandha (which could be considered a supplement), senna, and marjoram. Pretty decent prices, as well.
Iqbal Halal Foods
Here's a full fledged grocery option when you want to combine your meat/produce/bulk spice shopping all into one trip. The largest Asian grocery store in Ontario, Iqbal has bins of bulk spices sourced both locally and from South Asian, right by the shelves of shampoo and shoe polish, and the room devoted to rice.
Johnvince is an absolute utopia to the bulk store lovers among us (guilty), and it has a hefty section devoted entirely to spices and herbs. The daily offerings include jerk seasoning, pickling spices, and the typical thyme, cardamom, and cumin, all of which is available in abundance and almost enough to draw you away from the giant bin of sour keys.
Essence of Life
Another Kensington spice source that touts its collection of organic spices. The shop carries the typical assortment with a few exotics thrown in for good measure, with prices that typically beat all the other shops in Kensington. If you're looking to learn more about a particular spice, this is the place to ask.
OK, maybe I lied; sometime you can find a better deal over at Tutti Frutti. But just occasionally. The shop offers a long list of bulk herbs and spices, which are presented in little wooden cubbies that make the spice-searching experience seem that much more authentic. Count apple pie spice, korean pepper, and Hungarian paprika among the spice offerings.
Sunny Foodmart does not compete in the bulk spice market. Still, its soon-to-be-three GTA stores do distinguish themselves from typical shops offering packaged spice in terms of Sunny's variety and selection. Its shelves are lined with imported Asian spice brands, along with your typical peppercorn and oregano.
Yes, the name is wonderful, but it's not just nuts at Nuthouse on Bloor West. The shop has a superb little assortment of bulk spices, though the selection is more limited than some of the sprawling centres on this list. Or for just a little taste, there's alway Nuthouse's spiced organic carrot cake.
The Spice Trader
This isn't your white plastic bin/metal scoop type of spice store. And the prices certainly do reflect that. But if you're looking for a more luxurious spice shopping experience (right after your weekly high tea, I presume) The Spice Trader is your place. The shop offer spices from India, Vietnam, Turkey, Bolivia, and beyond, with custom organic blends and tinned spice collections.