My F&W
quick save (...)

Lucia Cleveland | Spice Scout

Passionate cooks will go to great lengths to get their herbs, even if it means growing their own rose geraniums, verbena and other plants not available at supermarkets. But Lucia Cleveland took her search further than most. In 1980, when she was trying to reproduce a dish she had tasted in a restaurant and couldn't find a ready-made version of bouquet garni, she started a company called The Spice Hunter and began importing the French herb bundle herself.

Since then, she has found spices and seasonings all over the world, including bay leaves in Turkey, vanilla beans in Madagascar, saffron in Spain, and a high-mountain oregano in Greece that comes strongly recommended by Mediterranean expert Paula Wolfert. Last year, Cleveland took an all-night flight to Hanoi and then drove a Jeep for two days into the hills of western Vietnam, where she met people who had never seen a white woman before. She found what she was looking for: cinnamon that explodes like a Red Hot.

In the past two decades, The Spice Hunter has grown into a big business: its seasonings are sold in hundreds of supermarkets. Still, Cleveland keeps looking for new flavors. After a 20-year hunt for white peppercorns she liked, she recently discovered Malaysian Sarawak pepper. It has a clean, fiery taste and an ivory color that makes a fleck-free sauce. For information, call The Spice Hunter at 800-444-3061.

--Jane Sigal
Published April 2000
You Might Also Like


Add A Comment

    Add a Comment

    See our terms
    You must be logged in to comment. or
    The Dish
    Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
    The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
    F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.
    American Express Publishing ("AEP") may use your email address to send you account updates and offers that may interest you. To learn more about the ways we may use your email address and about your privacy choices, read the AEP Privacy Statement.
    How we use your email address
    Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

    Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.