WHAT’S IN STORE: Getting spicy at the Savory Spice Shop

Savory Spice Shop opened in Princeton in 2011

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Savory Spice Shop opened in Princeton in 2011

By Rich Fisher
   The Savory Spice Shop of Princeton is aptly named, for the moment one walks into the establishment, they want to savor the wonderful aromas that embrace them.
   A favorite Spring Street destination for chefs and bakers of all levels, Savory Spice Shop offers more than 500 different herbs, spices, blends and seasonings. Each spice is ground in weekly batches, meaning the product is always fresh.
   ”There’s quite choices a few in here,” said Jon Hague, who opened the shop in 2011 with wife Janet. “You can put so many different combinations together as well and always find something that someone’s going to like.”
   Savory Spice is a virtual haven for those who enjoy preparing (and eating!) food, and a visit should be on the bucket list for those who don’t think they have the talent to prepare meals. One can smell and even taste all the spices as tasting jars are provided for samplings, which enhances the shop’s atmosphere.
   ”There are so many different varieties and flavors out there,” Mr. Hague said. “People don’t realize, whether you want to have healthy meals or not–so-healthy meals, you can add a tremendous amount of flavor very easily to just about anything you’re cooking. It doesn’t have to be spicy hot, just very flavorful.
   ”The range of flavors and directions you can go in with flavors is amazing. You can literally change a spice blend, that will change a complete dish while keeping everything else the same.”
   For instance, anyone having a Super Bowl party this Sunday might want to serve a few different samplings of chicken wings. Rather than spending all day preparing various sauces, take a delicious shortcut by sprinkling wings with a variety of spices. For those who are uncertain, the staff is there to help.
   ”I had a customer come in the other day who was making wings,” Mr. Hague said. “There are just so many ways to go, I showed him some of my favorites.”
   They include a ghost salt for hot wings, a harissa spice for a more exotic flavor, or a classic lemon poultry seasoning. There are also salt-free flavorings and a number of spices that can enhance flavor for those with health restrictions.
   ”It makes it really easy,” Mr. Hague said. “All you gotta do is pop them in the oven, sprinkle on some spice, shake them up a little bit and you’re done.”
   Other Super Bowl favorites are dips, sauces and chili.
   ”Dips are so easy, you can take yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese or just about anything and make a dip that tastes great, all it takes is mixing in some spices,” Mr. Hague said. “And Super Bowl is the biggest chili day of the year. Whether people are looking for straight chili or chili blends, we’ve got a lot of them.”
   Savory Spice is part of a small franchise that opened in Colorado in 2004. The Hagues were visiting relatives and discovered the shop. Jim decided if the opportunity presented itself, he would open a similar establishment.
   The opportunity came in 2010 when the company he worked for wanted Jim to transfer to Wisconsin. Thanks to a lifetime love of food and cooking, he and Janet decided to spice up their lives. The two lived in Ocean County but Janet worked at the Princeton Library, and they decided Princeton was the right spot to do business.
   Savory Spice opened in November, 2011, one week before Thanksgiving, and has been going strong ever since. Along with spices, the shop features sauces, dips, extracts, oils, waters, books, kitchenware and countless other items that can be found on the website.
   But a trip in person is more fun, thanks to the scents and personalized attention one receives. Whatever you need to know, the Savory Spice staff will be happy to discuss it.
   ”We talk about food all day long,” Mr. Hague said. “Whether someone who just walked in and doesn’t know anything, or someone who loves to cook. One of the things that always amazes me is people who don’t even think about cooking, or don’t like to cook or put things together.
   ”When you can make things that taste great and it’s easy to do, it turns into a lot of fun. We love to play. That’s basically what we do all day, talk to customers about what they’re making, what we’ve made. They get ideas, we get ideas. We have a good time.”
Savory Spice Shop is located at 15 Spring St., Princeton. For information, go to savoryspiceshop.com or call 609-454-5627.