We are always seeking new and exciting products to bring to our customers at Formaggio Kitchen. Sometimes, great products find us, whether it’s through a friend, word-of-mouth, or a producer cold call. This helps us fill our shelves with products we are proud to carry.
One of these producers is Curio Spice Company. I had the pleasure of working alongside Claire Cheney, the owner and founder, at Sofra Bakery, Ana Sortun’s Middle Eastern inspired bakery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although our time working together was brief, Claire was a wonderful leader and friend. Claire has an environmental degree from Oberlin College and is a self-taught spice blender and seeker of the highest quality of spices, whether through her travels to southeast Asia, or her recent travels in Central America. I could see the passion Claire had about food and spices. After her time as the retail manager at Sofra, Claire travelled extensively in pursuit of finding spices that she would ultimately bring to the country to start her spice company. In 2015 Curio spice company was born, shortly after the inception of her business, we started working with her.
At Formaggio Kitchen, we always try to support local businesses, including those of our friends. When Claire approached us with samples of her products, based on our previous relationship and her keen eye for the highest of quality products, I was sold. She is direct-importing most of her findings from places like Greece, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, and is carefully sourcing from sustainable and organic sources highlighting terroirs with optimal growing regions. Claire offers six different spice blends, four of which we proudly carry. I personally love her Aegean Salt blend, containing Cypriot salt, lemon peel, thyme and mastiha, which is a piney tree resin that exclusively grows on the island of Chios in Greece. This blend is wonderfully versatile, but we especially enjoy it on roasted fish or vegetables.
Claire is donating $1 of every sale she makes of this blend to help the Syrian refugees who are arriving on the island of Chios. Below is a simple, but delicious recipe using her Aegean Salt that she sampled out when she did a demo here at the Cambridge shop.
Aegean Salted Dates
- Curio Spice Company’s Aegean Salt
- Dried Medjool Dates
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (we used Cretian Aria)
- Pit the dates
- In a heavy bottom pan, over medium heat, heat up about 1/2cup of olive oil
- Add pitted dates and heat without burning them
- Sprinkle Aegean Salt Blend generously
- Serve in shallow serving platter
Photo and recipe from Claire Cheney of Curio Spice Company.
Serdar Sinaci is a buyer at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.