For the better part of a decade, chefs across the country have relied on a small San Francisco-based company, Le Sanctuaire, for the tools necessary to run top-tier restaurants.
And now, one weapon in its arsenal of high-end equipment and ingredients is available to the public: the spices, packaged under the label See Smell Taste, in miniature containers for the home pantry.
The "mini" line features what Le Sanctuaire deemed the best 25 of its 100 spice offerings, each sourced directly from growers around the world.
Provenance Food and Wine is the only Chicago store to carry them. Find Indonesian whole nutmeg, Guatemalan allspice, and grains of paradise, the peppery West African seeds essential to ras el hanout ($8 to $11 for a 1-ounce jar). Javanese long pepper, like black pepper with an extra kick, is harvested from the company's own farms in Indonesia.
But the jewel in the crown--and now, your spice cabinet--is the vadouvan ($12 for a 1-ounce jar). The fragrant blend of garlic, shallot, onion and curry originated in French-occupied Southern India, and this version is considered by many to be the best--and freshest--available.
Provenance's owners blend it with butter and baste it over scallops. And they warn that a little goes a long way.