To Market Pantry: Curio Spice Co.
Step into Claire Cheney’s Cambridge shop and you’ll be hit by a wave of complex aromas that are both familiar and foreign, the result of a mix of locally and internationally sourced spices. Her goal—and the reason she named the business Curio Spice Co.—is to harness her own curiosity about the world and to share and inspire it in others through her custom flavors and scents.
“The original allure of spices was getting something from far away,” says Cheney. “I’m trying to get back to that idea and to capture the essence of the places I’ve been.”
Among her offerings are an array of unique sea salts and peppercorns from around the globe, a Greek spice blend that offers a taste of the Aegean and a Vietnamese blend that includes hints of coffee and star anise. The standout, though, is a New England blend called Supeq Spice—the Passamaquoddy people’s word for “ocean”—that smells and tastes like the Massachusetts coast. Cheney suggests that the umami-rich combination of seaweed, sea salt, mushrooms, ginger and spices—sourced entirely from New England—will complement everything from fish and vegetables to dressings and popcorn.
“Smell is so linked to memory,” she says. “It reminds you of something you may have had a long time ago and it’s wonderful to see people transported.”
Although Cheney recognizes that trying new spices and combinations can be intimidating, she tries to balance education and sustainability with playfulness and experimentation in both her business and her creations. Spices, she notes, “are a never-ending learning experience.” curiospice.com
JACQUELINE GRADY SMITH