Sugar Spice and all Things Nice

After visiting the The Spice House in Old Town last weekend, I thought to myself, it is no wonder why Christopher Columbus was searching for a direct sea route to China and the Indies in order to import their exotic spices, amongst other riches, when he happened upon the Americas.

Slightly overwhelmed, as the Spice House is more like a museum of spices that I usually only get to enjoy along the shelves of the baking section at my local grocery store, I made my way around the maze of color filled jars from all over the world. I am ashamed to say that the spices in my kitchen are all way passed their prime, and from this single visit, I am convinced that fresh spices make all the difference. After reading labels and descriptions, smelling and tasting my way through the store, I narrowed in on a few of my favorites. The first being Saigon Cassia Cinnamon. I was seduced by the sweet potency of its spiciness and the slight numbing effect it had on the tip of my tongue.

One hour later I emerged from the shop with a small bag of treasures including the Vietnamese Cinnamon, some Himalayan pink salt, dried lavender flowers, and licorice root. Apples are in season and there are multiple varieties available at the farmers market. Inspired by my recent Saigon Cassica Cinnamon purchase, I experimented with an apple simple syrup reminiscent of my grandmothers apple pie.

Saigon Cinnamon Apple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
The peel and core of 2 apples (red makes pretty)
1 piece of Saigon Cassica Cinnamon bark
Simmer ingredients in pot for 30 minutes. The color from the skin of red apples should make for a nice pink tint. Cool and strain.

Saigon Apple Sidecar
2 oz Calvados or, Cognac
1 oz Saigon Cinnamon Apple Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon
Shake and strain into martini glass. Garnish with apple slice or cinnamon stick.

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