Spice Up your Life - A Trip to Penzey's in Richmond's Carytown

 I have written on this blog before about Penzey's Spices, spice purveyor extraordinaire with an extensive mail order business as well as a series of stores.  Lucky for me, one of their retail stores is an hour's drive away in Richmond's historic Carytown, because as great as their online and print catalogs are, there is something special about the Penzey's store experience from the smells to the extremely helpful and friendly staff...did I mention the smells?  Since we had run out of several of the spices and spice mixes I use regularly, we decided to make a special trip to Carytown to stock up for our vacation.

Carytown is a great destination itself, an old neighborhood full of little shops and restaurants.  Our plan was to leave early, get to Richmond before Penzey's opened at 10AM, find a place to get a bite, do our shopping and get back by midday. Since traffic was great we got there before most restaurants were open and set out to find a place to get a little something to eat. That is when we stumbled upon Jaks, a bagel shop that is unassuming but features good homemade bagels and sandwiches. The smells that great you as you come in make you even hungrier!

My Jak Sprat from Jaks in Richmond's Carytown
We looked at their menu on a large chalkboard and selected something after talking with the very friendly staff.  A steady stream of customers made us think we had made the right choice. I picked the Jak Sprat- a BLT on an Asiago cheese bagel with cream cheese.  My husband chose the Jak-o-let that featured a 2-egg omelet with sausage on a bagel.  While we waited for our sandwiches to be made (actually made, not reheated), we got a cup of coffee and sat at a table by the front window and did some people-watching. Our sandwiches were out in no time,and were everything promised. The bagels were tender with a chewy but not tough outside, the smear of cream cheese was rich, the bacon was thick and crisp and the tomato and lettuce were fresh.  It was everything a great BLT should be, but with the bonus of being on a really high quality bagel.I took a picture of my Jak Sprat but my husband made short work of his Jak-O-Let, so I did not get a picture of his sandwich, but suffice it to say that he thought it was great.

But back to Penzey's. We selected all the spices we came for (and a few more that we just couldn't leave without) and picked up the latest catalog, which besides having all manner of spices, includes a lot of great recipes (a great reason to get on their mailing list!) Inspired by our trip, I decided to try a recipe for Tacos with Navajo Fry bread.  The fry bread was very simple to make and was a great backdrop for the taco meat mixture and spices. The most fun was actually frying the bread , which was very dramatic as well- so much so that I made a video.  The final result was delicious, with a crunchy outside and tender inside, a perfect foil for the spicy meat mixture.  You can check out many of Penzey's recipes on their website and really spice up your life.


Pegasuslegend said…
That bread jumped out at me never heard of it and very intriguing, like fried dough but a meal. Very interesing!
Deborah Dowd said…
Pegasuslegend- This was my first try and it was really different from a simple taco shell or tortilla!
Ooh a blt on a bagel? Yes please!
Jonn said…
I want to try that tacos!
Anonymous said…
That bread sounds so good! What a great idea for the base of a taco. And the bagel sandwiches are making my mouth water :) Thanks for sharing!
Thanks a lot for this blog .. very informative
Hello dear.You have written a great post. Going to share with my followers on twitter. Thanks for sharing.

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Christ said…
Really nice blog,i w"ll try soon the tacos,i love tacos :-)

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