Interview with Robert Orth of Calicutts Spices

Interview w/ Robert Orth of Calicutts Spices

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

Many people {including myself} question what Artisan truly means. Is the word “Artisan” allotted more importance than deserved? After reading that Dominoes Pizza came out with an Artisan option, I elicited the expertise of Robert Orth to help me debunk the Artisan hoax and bring meaning back to the word.

Orth also sent me a few of his spices to try in my recipes. I used his Mexican Adobo spice in my Mexican Spice & Cheese focaccia rolls. These rolls are absolutely kiss-the-fingers-snootily good. As you can see from the ingredient list, it’s a simple recipe that comes to life largely in part of Orth’s Mexican Adobo spice. 100 percent Artisan, 100 percent tasty.

Mexican Spice & Cheese Focaccia Rolls
Mexican Spice & Cheese Focaccia Rolls

The flavor is so impressive, that I had to find out what went behind the making of these spices.

“First off, we only use the highest quality herbs and spices from around the world,” Orth said. “We only do business with spice plantations using sustainable practices and growing organic, non-irradiated herbs and spices.”

Orth said that health is important to him, and “a cornerstone value of the business is to not cut corners to make a quick buck.”

“I view my business as helping to promote customer health, as spices have wonderful health properties with a negligible amount of calories.”

Despite the name, foodies don’t love the food as much as flavor. When I go into my kitchen with a new recipe, the success lies not in the fact that my lasagna didn’t burn, or my rolls weren’t stone hard. Success lies in the quality of flavor. A recipe that’s memorable to my taste buds will be included to my book of recipes, then and only then. Calicutts Spices because knows the importance of flavor.

Organic Curry Powder: a blend that offers less heat from the chilies & more flavor from the cinnamon, cardamom & nutmeg.

“My business is all about maximizing flavor and freshness out of those herbs and spices,” Orth said. “To do so, every herb and spice receives special attention. If it’s an herb, the herb gets hand rubbed. This helps to release the herb’s volatile oils, and contained within those oils is maximized flavor!”

And what about those beloved spices, such as cumin, coriander and peppercorns?

“If it’s a spice, they get slow-toasted individually over a fire cast-iron skillet to help release their volatile oils.”

Sometimes, Orth puts spices such as cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg into the oven to gently roast. Christmas may be far off, but I’m already entertaining the idea of using these spices in my Christmas cider.

Slow roasted nutmeg

“These are lengthy processes,” said Orth, “but it’s worth it because it keeps the spice blends pure and non-diluted.”

Orth says that once all the herbs and spices are roasted, toasted and rubbed, thus begins the process of blending the spices.

“We blend-in individual whole spices and herbs,”Orth said. “Our spice blends have various texture profiles. Some, like our Montreal and Mediterranean blends are more course, while some, like our Chipotle & Honey, Autumn Harvest, Cardamom Coffee blends, are ground to a fine powder. If we are making a blend that requires grinding, into the hand-powered grinder the spice mixture goes, and after every part of the blend is ground, we hand-mix once more to make sure all of the ingredients have been incorporated.”

Finely ground Cardamom Coffee Blend

Each blend has a specific process to increase the flavor within the herbs and spices. The result is a unique creation, where no two blends are alike and each spice is superior than the one found at your local grocery store.

My favorite is the Mexican Adobo Spice, but the curry powder comes in at a close second. I find it downright addictive sprinkled over a hearty slice of buttered bread, followed by a thin layer of roughly mashed avocados, some hummus and a few slices of slow roasted tomatoes.

Give it a try and tell me what you think. Addictive, no?

~Live Well!


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